Monday, June 15, 2009

A Bride in the Bargain

Gist, Deeanne. 2009. A Bride in the Bargain. Bethany House. 365 pages.

I loved almost everything about this one. To keep all of his land, Joe Denton needs a wife. If he doesn't have a wife--or proof of his first wife's death--by a certain date, he loses half of his claim. Denton is a lumber-man. He lives near Seattle in the Washington Territory in the late 1860s. Women, quite naturally, are scarce. But one man, Asa Mercer, has a plan. A plan to bring women into the territory. For a fee--several hundred dollars, men can buy wives--sight unseen of course. He's selling wives faster than women are volunteering to be quite honest. But he's hoping with the civil war turning everything--North and South--all topsy-turvy, that there will be plenty of widows and orphans and women down on their luck who are looking for new starts. Women who might have lost brothers, husbands, fathers. Women who might have lost their homes. But can he persuade enough of them to come with him? Is he on the up and up?

Anna Ivey thinks she's going west to be a cook. In return for paying her passage, she'll be working off her debt to Mr. Joe Denton, by cooking for him and his lumberjack crew. But when Denton makes a stop at the church, Anna realizes that she's in for more than she bargained for! She has no trouble working for her keep--knowing that she is in fact in debt to this man. But to be his wife?! She didn't sign up for that. She's still grieving the loss of her mother, father, and brother. Everyone she's loved has died. And she's convinced that she's bad luck. To give her heart to anyone means that they'll up and die on her just like her family. So she thinks.

Can Joe Denton persuade the beautifully misguided and oh-so-stubborn Miss Anna to become his wife before time runs out and he loses his land? The attraction is instant. Yes, he needs her to say 'I do.' But the thought of having her as his wife makes him a happy man indeed. And she is drawn to him. Though she's not one to admit it right off. She wants proof that he loves her, that he wants her.

Louise asked, "How well, do you think, that the historical information about Washington State anno 1870's is described? Had this book given you any insights into life in Western USA at that time in history?" I'm not an expert by any means. I'd read books where people are traveling West (usually by wagon) to the Washington area. But I'd not read any where men were ordering wives. It reminded me of a movie I saw as a kid called "Westward the Women." Of course, in that movie, the women were heading to California by wagon...and in this book we have women traveling by ship to Washington. But the premise--men ordering wives from the East--is the same. There was an Asa Mercer. And this book did make me curious.

Puss Reboots, this one is my favorite. I can't promise that every reader will love it. It's a historical novel. It's a romance. It's a clean romance. It's by a Christian publisher. But it's not preachy-and-sappy. Yes, there are a couple of scenes where our main character gains some spiritual insight. But it's not over-the-top or anything. I think for readers that are drawn to historical fiction, you'll be pleased with this one.

© Becky Laney of Operation Actually Read Bible

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