Historical Romance/Christian Fiction published October 3, 2013
Bethany House Publishing
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Synopsis from Goodreads:
Although Everett Cline can hardly keep up with the demands of his homestead, he won't humiliate himself by looking for a helpmate ever again--not after being jilted by three mail-order brides. When a well-meaning neighbor goes behind his back to bring yet another mail-order bride to town, he has good reason to doubt it will work, especially after getting a glimpse at the woman in question. She's the prettiest woman he's ever seen, and it's just not possible she's there to marry a simple homesteader like him.
Julia Lockwood has never been anything more than a pretty pawn for her father or a business acquisition for her former fiance. Having finally worked up the courage to leave her life in Massachusetts, she's determined to find a place where people will value her for more than her looks. Having run out of all other options, Julia resorts to a mail-order marriage in far-away Kansas.
Everett is skeptical a cultured woman like Julia could be happy in a life on the plains, while Julia, deeply wounded by a past relationship, is skittish at the idea of marriage at all. When, despite their hesitations, they agree to a marriage in name only, neither one is prepared for the feelings that soon arise to complicate their arrangement. Can two people accustomed to keeping their distance let the barricades around their hearts down long enough to fall in love?
As you know, if you follow the blog here, I don't read much Religious Fiction. I will, however, occasionally accept a book from Bethany House for review and I have yet to read one that I have not enjoyed. This book falls firmly in that category. Actually, I think this is probably my favorite of the books I have received from them.
This book is set in Kansas in 1876. Everett is a farmer who has had a bit of bad luck when it comes to finding a wife. The girl he loved when he was young left him for someone else. He goes off to war and comes back to start working his land and decides that maybe a mail order bride might be the thing for him. After three disastrous attempts he comes to the conclusion that maybe it's not meant for him after all. This is when a meddling, albeit well meaning friend decides to find him a bride on her own. She starts communicating with Julia and when Julia tells her about certain situations in her life, Rachel invites her to Kansas to be Everett's mail order bride. Unfortunately for Everett, he doesn't know anything about this until her train arrives on a day when he just happens to be in town picking up supplies.
So, without giving too much away Everett believes Julia to be too "high-class" to ever be satisfied being the wife of a simple homesteader. He doesn't think she has what it takes to live the lifestyle that he and his wife will have to live to make a go of the farm. Julia, on the other hand, is running from her past in a sense and so she's pretty well determined that she's going to do whatever it takes. They take a little time to try to get to know one another before she agrees to marry him, but in name only. She will be his wife and she will help him with the homestead and the like, but she has no intention of ever becoming intimate with him for reasons known only to her. He agrees, partly because he's at a point where he doesn't think he will ever find anyone else, but partly because he does like her and he thinks that given time she will come to feel the same for him.
They have a rough go of it, a lot of assumptions and misplaced anger. Some of it is childish stuff, in fact most of it is, but thankfully for them they have Rachel and Dex to help them see things the way they really are. They are even able to help some others along the way. Everett has a very deep connection to God and believes that above all God will help him find the right path. Because of this faith he is able to help Julia find her way to God. He sets an example that she is not able to overlook.
This is a good clean romance and it does have a pretty strong religious undertone. I don't normally like books that push this too much, but in the case of this book there is a nice balance and there were some parts that had me thinking awfully hard about how I felt. I would not hesitate to pick up more books in this series, in fact I just saw on Goodreads that Dex and Rachel's story is told in a novella the proceeds this book and it's free on Amazon for Kindle so I picked that up this morning.
If you like a good historical romance, you like clean romance and you don't mind that is religious fiction then give this book a try!
*Disclaimer: I was provided with a copy of this book courtesy of the publisher in exchange for my honest review.*