Thursday, June 14, 2012

Book Review: Short-Straw Bride

Short-Straw Bride. Karen Witemeyer. 2012. Bethany House. 368 pages.

From the prologue: Ten-year-old Meredith Hayes balled her hands into fists as she faced her tormentor, "Hiram Ellis! Give me back my lunch bucket this instant!"

From chapter one: "I don't think I can do it, Cass." Meredith peered up at her cousin through the reflection in the vanity mirror. Cassandra pulled the hairpin from her mouth and secured another section of Meredith's braided chignon. "Do what?" "Marry a man who wants me only for the land I can bring him." 

This isn't my first Karen Witemeyer book; however, it is the first Karen Witemeyer book that I absolutely LOVED, LOVED, LOVED. Short-Straw Bride is a Christian historical romance; it is set in Palestine, Texas in the 1880s.

In the prologue, Travis Archer saves the then-ten-year-old Meredith, her leg having gotten trapped in a hunting trap. The incident stays with her, as you might imagine. First, because she can't forget Travis Archer, he is forever her hero, the stuff of her dreams, despite the fact that that isolated incident is the only time she's seen him. Second, because it left a scar on her leg and the damage to the bone prevented it from growing as it should; one leg being slightly longer than the other.

The novel opens with Meredith all grown up and living with her aunt and uncle who are her guardians. They have arranged a marriage for her with an up-and-coming businessman, Roy Mitchell. Meredith prays for a sign, an indication one way or another if she should marry the man her guardians have chosen for her, or, if she should be stubborn and refuse their choice. And the sign, when it comes, is definite: she not only overhears him calling her a cripple, she overhears him making unethical arrangements to acquire land. He WANTS the Archer land, and since the Archer brothers won't sell, won't negotiate, won't budge, he's decided that if he burns their barn down, it will be a good first step to getting what he wants.

So what's a woman to do? Well, she does try going to the sheriff--or the deputy?--but when she's not taken seriously, when she's instead ridiculed for being a silly woman with a vivid imagination, she does what she must: she rides out to the Archer land herself to warn them. The problem? She doesn't have the time to ride out there and back before nightfall. And she wasn't counting on her cousin giving into the pressure of revealing her whereabouts. So her heroic ride to warn them just in time turns into a compromising reputation-killer. Her uncle demanding that one of the four Archer brothers step forward to marry her....

I admit this one could sound a bit silly to some readers, but, oh how I loved it!!!! I loved Meredith! I loved Travis! I loved their relationship, their marriage, their courtship-coming-after-marriage. I loved seeing how Meredith's presence on the Archer farm transforms the place, transforms the brothers. I loved just about everything in this one!!! There were quite a few giddy-making scenes!

Will Short-Straw Bride appeal to every reader? I doubt it. It's definitely for those that love Christian fiction, those that love Christian historical romance. I could see it having some appeal to non-Christians who love and seek out clean romance novels (smut-free romance novels).

© Becky Laney of Operation Actually Read Bible

No comments: