It is always exciting when a favorite author begins a brand new series, don’t you think? This time it’s Jody Hedlund who has released the first installment of a new story from Bethany House Publishers, entitled “A Reluctant Bride” – book number one in “The Bride Ships” series. The fascinating premise of dozens of poor London women leaving behind all they know and setting sail for British Columbia, where potential husbands await them, is based on true events of the 1860s. This unique scenario, combined with Jody’s masterful skill at weaving a compelling story, allows us to quickly be swept away in a story of hope, healing, and love – all of which come to pass in the most unexpected of ways.
The opening chapters of “A Reluctant Bride” were challenging to read because of the vivid descriptions of of London’s poorest slums – the place where our heroine has spent her entire life. The unimaginable poverty and depravity of these living conditions is described without holding anything back, and is enough to make you weep at realizing these descriptions are accurate to a real time and place in history. As the story carries on, I love how the circumstances of Mercy’s life are redeemed as she realizes that no matter where she comes from or what her past may have looked like, she is just as important and matters just as much as anyone else. As a wise woman tells Mercy, “For people like us who come from lowly backgrounds, we all too often accept our place at the bottom and think that’s where we belong. But that’s just not true.”
One negative aspect of this story is that several scenes crossed my personal boundary of what is appropriate in Christian fiction. It wasn’t too extreme, but I feel uncomfortable recommending this book wholeheartedly to readers who prefer clean and wholesome stories. Now, I certainly don’t want this negative point to overtake the unique premise, masterful writing, and powerful themes that make “A Reluctant Bride” worthy of much praise, but simply hope to advise readers with a little word of caution before picking up this story. If you are okay with that, you will undoubtedly be captivated by “The Bride Ships” saga.
“Book has been provided courtesy of Baker Publishing Group and Graf-Martin Communications, Inc.”