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A Bride of Convenience (The Bride Ships) Paperback – June 30, 2020
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From the Back Cover
a Marriage of Convenience Holds More Appeal than Ever Before.
There is nothing left to keep Zoe Hart in England. Unemployed and struggling with grief, she decides to leave her bleak life behind her and emigrate on a bride ship to British Columbia--the place her brother fled to when falsely accused of a drastic crime.
Pastor to miners in the mountains, Abe Merivale discovers an abandoned native baby during a routine visit to Victoria and joins efforts with Zoe--one of the newly arrived bride-ship women--to care for the orphan. When Abe is forced to choose between following the strict rules laid down by his bishop and listening to God's nudges to care for his people, he is left at a crossroads.
Determined to find her brother and to give the baby a home, Zoe rashly accepts a marriage proposal from a man who promises both. But Abe knows the man's unsavory reputation. Intent on protecting Zoe and wounded by his own failed engagement, Abe impulsively offers his own hand instead. They hastily marry, but both soon realize the marriage of convenience they imagined is not so convenient after all.
"In the entertaining third installment to Hedlund's Bride Ships series two good-hearted people find unlikely love as they struggle to fulfill their callings. Hedlund vividly captures the spirit of pioneering in a lush Pacific Northwest setting, and her characters display faith naturally and realistically. Series fans are in for a treat." --Publishers Weekly
"Through it all, Jody Hedlund pens a message of faith, forgiveness, and the true meaning of family. For fans of Christian romance and anyone who would like to learn more about the 'bride ships.'"--Historical Novels Review
About the Author
- Publisher : Bethany House Publishers; 6/1 edition (June 30, 2020)
- Language : English
- Paperback : 352 pages
- ISBN-10 : 0764232975
- ISBN-13 : 978-0764232978
- Item Weight : 11.3 ounces
- Dimensions : 5.5 x 0.88 x 8.5 inches
- Best Sellers Rank: #92,122 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
- Customer Reviews:
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And thus began a tale of two hearts, who might have been joined under the most unusual of circumstances, but joined they were and joined they were going to stay. Possibly. Maybe. Hopefully.
When bride-ship bride Zoe Hart accepted responsibility for a wee babe, she never imagined becoming the wife of the local pastor Abe Merivale would be necessary, much less reality; Zoe had thought to take her chances on someone else. The "someone else" didn't take kindly to having his almost wife snatched away from him, and so following their hasty nuptials, Zoe and Abe quickly retreated farther up into the mountain mining communities of British Columbia. . . . . and began their polite, platonic life.
Determined to follow the traditions of the Anglican Church, Abe knew he was jeopardizing his chances of advancement as a rector by joining his life with a former cotton mill worker and a mixed race infant. What had he been thinking? Actually, under the circumstances Abe hadn't been thinking clearly at all. But he had taken his vows before God and was determined to become a good husband, to the most beautiful woman he had ever seen, who was quickly becoming the most precious.
Seemingly, Zoe and Abe had a lot to learn about discerning God's will for their lives, for "Beautiful things usually coexisted with pain and danger. The two walked hand in hand on the same path, and the contrast only made the beauty and joy all the greater."
It's been a long time since I have enjoyed a marriage of convenience story this much.
When reading a book, I always look for great characters, and Jody delivered big time with Zoe, Abe, and the secondary cast. Zoe is a devout Christian and Abe is a pastor, so I kind of expected them to be a little too good to be true. However, both are relatable, funny, a pleasure to spend time with, and just--human. I enjoyed Zoe's mix of compassion and meekness with banter, determination, and a tendency to tell it like it is, no matter how "improper" that was. (One of my favorite scenes occurred when she called out Abe on his handling of ministry and ambition). Similarly, I loved how Abe wanted so badly to build relationships with his neighbors, but found the pull of convention too strong at times. These combinations and others, plus the differences in Zoe and Abe's backgrounds, and the situations in which they found themselves, made for a great take on a marriage of convenience story.
As for the secondary cast, they added some unique elements of their own. For instance, I expected Violet to be a big part of Zoe's journey because she's mentioned in the back cover blurb. I did not expect the additions of Lyle and Will, nor did I expect to get information on their backgrounds or how they would fit into Abe and Zoe's new life. Kudos to Jody for pulling off that somewhat unexpected, but well-placed twist on the old "sudden single mom" trope. I also wasn't expecting the subplot with Lizzy to go where it did, or for the native people to be involved the way they were (again, another great twist). Jody expertly mixes the use of tropes with twists on them, something I respect her for greatly, especially in a story and genre that depend somewhat on formulas.
Speaking of formula, the romance between Zoe and Abe is not formulaic, though I wondered if it would be. As always, it's the small, relationship-building moments that make it stand out. I loved the water fight scene at the hot springs, and the scene where Abe helps Zoe through a migraine. I cheered for Zoe when she stood up for Abe against Bishop Hills (who, by the way, is a great antagonist--not a classical villain, but one you love to hate). As for the climactic scenes, again, they surprised me in the best ways, especially when Sque-is showed up, along with Zeke.
Jody did lapse into narrative summary when she needed to show certain things. For instance, Abe's entire background is summed up and pretty much throwaway--we know he was the youngest of several, much older siblings and that his parents are traditional people who placed high expectations on him. But that doesn't seem to influence Abe or his relationship with Zoe, unless you want to count that he worries about what Bishop Hills will think, then goes ahead and does what he wants anyway. The same is true for Zoe; we get more development with her, but I felt there were some things, like her migraines and her experiences with an opioid-addicted sister, that could've lent more to her character and development.
Additionally, while I liked that Jody did not make the whole book about "Zoe's a poor mill girl and Abe is a rich pastor, so they can't be together," I did feel that could've enhanced the romantic journey a bit more. For instance, there are scenes where it's clear Zoe acts, thinks, and even speaks much differently than Abe does. While he seems to find that endearing, it's kind of glossed over. Similarly, while Zoe worries about Abe having to provide for her monetarily, wanting to hire maids, and so on, it doesn't get the kind of attention I thought it was set up to get. Sometimes it felt like Jody struggled to choose and stick with a conflict.
All that said, A Bride of Convenience is a lovely book, and while it's set 160-odd years in the past, I think it has a lot to say about how people in 2020 cultivate interpersonal and spiritual relationships. I'm also looking forward to book four, because I want to see how Zeke and Kate Millington match up. In the meantime, if you haven't read it yet, you'll enjoy it very much.
The three of the first of them are over the top a wonderful treat to read!
I love the characters and how she develops them. Also, you feel as if you are right there in story. As if you can see the "town" and the people in it.
I always wait until have all of the books in a series before I start to read them and in this case it was a wonderful experience to finish one and go right onto the next! It made the series so much more enjoyable. So treat yourself to this series and then be prepared to just ENJOY!!!