Who doesn't love a mail-order bride story? Hard-working farmer in a harsh, untamed land that's short on women--pretty or otherwise--places an advertisement for a wife. Beautiful (or not), down on her luck Eastern girl with nowhere else to turn answers the ad and heads west to face whatever adventures life has in store. It spells a page-turner every time. But what will that farmer do if the girl decides the farmer, or his farm, is just not good enough and she backs out? How many times will he try?
That's a story I had never read until A Bride for Keeps.
Melissa Jagears has taken the well-loved frame of the mail-order bride story and turned it on its ear with a jaded hero who has sworn off mail-order brides, and a wounded heroine who wants nothing to do with intimacy of any kind. Mix in Everett's irresistible goodness (that shows through despite his best efforts to hide it)--to say nothing of his good looks--and Julia's beauty and vulnerability, and you have a tale sure to win a place in readers' hearts, and on their keeper shelves.
I loved Everett and Julia. My heart broke for the pain that stood between them and happiness. I constantly rooted for them to overcome it and grasp with both hands the love that was staring them in the face. When they finally do, it's in a scene that may be one of the most beautiful romantic resolutions I've ever read...and that's saying A LOT!
The secondary characters are beautifully done as well. From Dex and Rachel Stanton, whom we met in the novella Love by the Letter, to some of the ladies who jilted Everett before Julia's arrival, the minor characters create a community that not only anchors this story in time and place, but also beckons readers to return for more in future novels.
A Bride for Keeps begins with Everett Cline, a man who has had zero luck with women. Julia Lockwood is a woman desperate for a home and a protector. Together they agree to a makeshift marriage, leading to a very long road of love, faith, and hope.
The things I loved about this bookâ€” the CHARACTERS! You fall in love with Everett and Julia right away. Everett has been three times jilted and he is afraid to hope so he hardens his heart towards Julia. When he attempts to make it right, he turns into the sweetest man. Julia is scared of being hurt again and she's afraid she's only worth her looks. When she finally sees her worth through God's eyes that made the story for me. And while I loved Everett and Julia, I must say that the secondary characters stole the show! Dex, Rachel, and their children were kind, generous, and simply hilarious! There were times when I just reread a moment with them and just laughed.
The things I did not like about this bookâ€”the plot was not unlike many other historical fiction, prairie based books I've read. That's not to say that I didn't love this one! A Bride for Keeps was different, because it made me laugh and cry and it kept me reading for the entire night! It caught my attention and kept it. But I still wasn't thrilled about the repetitiveness of the story. There were times when I wanted to scream at the characters, "Gosh! Just wake up and realize you love each other and get on with your life already!" Julia certainly frustrated me to no end at some points.
Overall I would recommend this book because it did make me feel what the characters were feeling. Be it joy or pain I couldn't help but sympathize even when I was annoyed. A Bride for Keeps is a love story, yes. But it was also a story of forgiveness, redemption, and moving on. I enjoyed it thoroughly!
**I received this book for free from Bethany House through NetGalley in exchange for an honest review. All thoughts are completely my own.
A Tender Tale of Love on the Prairie Perfect for CBA Readers.
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?
I am not a huge fan of romances, but give me a mail-order bride story and I'm going to love it - guaranteed! This book was no different, despite a couple things I feel the need to mention along a negative vein. I felt this novel was focusing too much on the lack of a physical relationship between the characters, instead of developing that emotional bond that comes from just being together. That is the best part about mail order bride stories; the evolution of watching two characters grow closer together romantically. This writing was repetitive with emotions, situations and thoughts, and it did get tiring reading about it over and over.
Now to the stuff I really liked about the book! There was no sub-plot in this novel, and while that usually makes a book better, in this case, I enjoyed not having one. Having a sub-plot may have helped the repetitiveness I mentioned earlier, but Everett and Julia had enough drama between the two of them, it simply wasn't needed. There were times I wanted them to sit down and talk things out, but I was highly amused by the cat-and-mouse game they played for a while before the story was concluded. For a while it seemed as if they are going to go break things off - but doesn't every good story have some impossible situation/circumstance that gets overcome at the last possible moment?
This book was provided by the publisher for free in exchange for an honest review.
Loved Bride for Keeps, a sweeping romantic novel placed on the homestead. Author Melissa Jagears has an effortless style of writing that allows you to get lost in the story. The characters and their unlikely romance caught my attention in the first chapters and kept it until the end. A story of love, loss, humor, and mail order brides, with a charming setting depicting life on the homestead. I would recommend Bride for Keeps to anyone who enjoys a good Christian Romance.
I would rate this book a 4.5. It was a great book, but not quite a 5 quality. I was surprised by how much I enjoyed this book. It is Melissa Jagears's debut novel, so I did not set my expectations high. I loved the story plot. This was a mail order bride story with a twist, the groom did not order the bride and he was not expecting her. Julia did not want to marry Everett and Everett did not want to be hurt by another woman and marry Julie. They both knew that they had to get married for convenience. Everett and Julia both started to develop feelings for each other, but they also both tried to ignore those feelings. Both of them had valid reasons for oppressing their feelings, but after a while I just wanted to yell at them to get over it and go tell the person how they feel. The reason why I did not give the book a 5 is because after a while it started to get old. There were times when I just wanted to tell Julia to stop being so scared to love her husband. Eventually things did turn around, but I had to wait until the end. I liked Everett and Julie as well as Rachel. The characters enhanced the appeal of the book in my opinion. I look forward to reading future novels by Melissa Jagears. I would definitely recommend this book to my friends.
I received this book for free from Bethany House Publishers for my honest review.