My Review:

If “A Bride Opens Shop in El Dorado, California” is any indication, Keli Gwyn has a promising career as an author ahead of her. Her debut novel is delightful and so well written that if I didn’t know it was her first, I would guess that Keli is already an established author.

The major characters of this book are well developed and likeable. Tildy is especially entertaining with her incessant talk, her enthusiasm for life, and her humorous observations. Miles and Elenora are both appealing characters. Miles can seem a bit gruff and reserved but has a heart of gold. All he needs is the right woman to help him overcome the unwarranted guilt over something he had no control over. Elenora is strong and spunky with a determination to succeed that can be a bit daunting at times. Events from her past have driven her to prove her independence – especially from men. As you can guess, this is the perfect setup for a romance between Miles and Elenora although neither can see it. Their fierce competition makes for some interesting reading and sometimes a little impatience for them to wake up and see what’s right in front of them. Even with the unwanted help from Miles’ mother and Tildy, they seem determined to ignore the attraction. What will it take to get these two together?

“A Bride Opens Shop In El Dorado, California” had just the right blend of historical fact, drama, humor, and romance to hold my attention. The dialogue and interaction between characters was natural and quite entertaining. A strong message of faith was present but unobtrusive. I thoroughly enjoyed this book and look forward to many more from Keli Gwyn. Looks like I need to make room on my keeper shelves for one more new favorite author.

This book was provided for review by the author.

About the Book:

Love Is Gold in El Dorado, California

Widow Elenora Watkins heads to California with her nine-year-old daughter, Tildy, eager to become partner in a mercantile. When the mulish owner withdraws his offer because she’s a woman, she opens her own shop. She’s determined to prove herself capable of running a successful business without the help of anyone—including her controlling father, her seemingly distant heavenly Father, and one Miles Rutledge.

Widower Miles Rutledge is not about to get involved with another willful woman like his late wife, especially when she’s his competition. But the beautiful Elenora and her precocious daughter may be too hard to resist. When another man appears out to claim Elenora’s heart, Miles searches for a way to win her back. . .while putting her out of business.

Meanwhile, Maude Rutledge, Miles’s meddling mother, longs to see her son make a good match. And Tildy is just as bent on gaining a loving papa.

The battle of wills begins, but can anyone win when the competition is more than they bargained for?

Note: The story is a sweet romance with hints of humor, along the lines of Margaret Brownley or Karen Witemeyer’s work.


What a delightful debut! A Bride Opens Shop in El Dorado, California reminds me of the classic romantic comedies where two stubborn, independent people keep denying what everyone else knows is true: that they were meant for each other. I found myself eagerly turning the pages, wanting to see what was going to happen to Ellie and Miles next.

Amanda Cabot ~ author of Summer of Promise and Christmas Roses

With witty dialogue, charming characters, and an attention to historical detail that will make you feel you’re living in frontier California, you’ll love every moment you spend in El Dorado, CA with spunky, resourceful Elenora Watkins and determined, debonair Miles Rutledge. Keli Gwyn’s debut historical romance is a winner!

Erica Vetsch ~ author of A Bride’s Portrait of Dodge City, Kansas

Keli Gwyn’s A Bride Opens Shop in El Dorado, Californiais a fresh and lively tale of two strong, yet wounded people battling to outperform each other with rival shops, with violins, even with pistols. As Elenora and Miles come to terms with past hurts, they gradually shift from self-seeking to self-sacrificing, proving the power of God at work in their lives and bringing a most satisfying ending.
Janet Dean ~ author of Last Minute Bride, Brides of the West

Keli Gwyn brings the Sierra Foothills to life with rich historical details. She’s crafted delightful and unique characters that make a home in your heart. The tender and sweet romance has plenty of sparks to keep you turning the pages. And when you reach the last page, you’ll breathe a satisfied sigh but at the same time wish this lovely story didn’t have to end.

Jody Hedlund ~ award-winning and bestselling author of A Preacher’s Bride

Keli Gwyn is a fresh new voice in Christian fiction. A Bride Opens Shop is filled with characters who leap off the pages, a story line that wouldn’t let me go, and historically authentic details that delighted me. I will anxiously await the release of her next novel.

Lena Nelson Dooley ~ author of Maggie’s Journey and Mary’s Blessing,
the first two books in the McKenna’s Daughters series, and Will Rogers
Medallion Winner, Love Finds You in Golden, New Mexico

Keli Gwyn brings old California alive with a story that’s filled with faith, hope, and love. When a willful widow matches wits with a competitive shopkeeper you just know there will be fireworks. The battle of the sexes has never been so much fun. Highly recommended!

Margaret Brownley ~ Brides of Last Chance Ranch and New York Times bestselling author

A Bride Opens Shop in El Dorado, California is an effervescent story full of such small town charm that you might think Little House on the Prairie had jumped on a stagecoach and headed for the wild west! Author Keli Gwyn’s vivid historical settings and gentle humor will endear her to readers of sweet romance.

Rosslyn Elliott ~ award-winning author of Fairer than
Morning and Sweeter than Birdsong

About the Author:

Keli Gwyn writes stories that transport readers to the 1800s, where she brings historic towns to life, peoples them with colorful characters, and adds a hint of humor. A California native, she lives in the Gold Rush-era town of Placerville at the foot of the majestic Sierra Nevada Mountains. Her debut novel, A Bride Opens Shop in El Dorado, California, set in the heart of the Gold Country where she lives is currently available.

When Keli’s fingers aren’t hovering over the keyboard of her newfangled laptop, she enjoys strolling past stately Victorian houses in her historic town, burying her nose in reference books as she unearths interesting facts to include in her stories, and interacting with other romance readers. Her favorite places to visit are her fictional worlds, the Coach factory outlet store, and Taco Bell.