Widow Marty Olsen is leaving her Texas ranch to be a mail order bride for Jacob Wythe, a banker in Denver. He's a widower looking for a sensible wife for a marriage of convenience, because the board members of the bank feel a bank manager should be married. They need to keep up appearances, after all.
My real problem with A Sensible Arrangement was that I expect a marriage of convenience story to have a strong romantic element. While in real life these situations were undoubtedly the challenge of two complete strangers learning to build a life together, in Christian fiction (and general market fiction), a marriage of convenience is two strangers falling in love. This was a real weakness in A Sensible Arrangementâ€”I never felt Mary and Jacob spent enough time together to develop a lasting relationship.
If you leave aside the fact that A Sensible Arrangement wasn't a romance, it did have several strengths. Marty was a particularly interesting character. She was a strong and independent woman who makes her own choices (as illustrated by the fact she left a steady existence for the uncertainty of being a mail-order bride in faraway Denver), yet she was a compulsive liar who constantly tried to reconcile her lack of truthfulness towards Jacob as being for the best. I did find her lying somewhat tiresome, as I didn't understand her reason for lying for most of the novel (and when it was finally revealed, it seemed a little illogical).
The Christian elements were strong, with a clear message of salvation, and a sobering comparison of Christians as opposed to people who go to church for social reasons (I suspect not a lot has changed in this regard since the 1890's). The background to the plot was the collapse of the banking industry in Colorado due to changes in national legislation, and I thought this was interesting. We've all heard of the 1929 crash which started the Great Depression of the 1930's, but I hadn't known there were others.
A Sensible Arrangement is the first in the start of the Lone Star Brides series, but I suspect it draws on characters introduced in previous novels as the backstory has that quality of delivering a lot of information in only a few words. It's Tracie Petersen's 100th published novel, and it shows in the strong writing and the way she seamlessly integrates the history into the plot.
Overall, while I enjoyed the historical aspects and the relationships between the minor characters, I wasn't convinced by the romance between Marty and Jacob. I'm sure Tracie Petersen fans will enjoy it.
Thanks to Litfuse Publicity for providing a free ebook for review.
I have been a fan of Tracie Peterson for quite some time. She was one of the first authors I read when I jumped into historical, Christian fiction. The characters that are in Tracie's stories always vary in personality and traits and they all mesh well. A Sensible Arrangement isn't any different.
There is something unique however, about this book, it is Tracie Peterson's 100th book! I just have to say, how awesome is that?! Each story is fresh with a new group of unique characters. That is fantastic talent!
Back to the review.
A Sensible Arrangement portrayed what I thought was a very realistic look of a marriage of convenience. Marty is a girl, who had happy marriage, but it was taken from her when husband was killed when he was tending the stock on their ranch. For four years, Marty has taken care of her small spread and watched after by her sister and brother-in-law, who has a ranch next to Marty's. However, since the death of her husband, Marty has grown weary of her ranch...well, really, Texas in general. All that seems to remain is heartache, so when she notices an ad in the paper for a Texas bride, she jumps at the chance. The way that Marty handles it is real too.
Marty isn't looking for love, just an escape. She worries about how her family will take the news, so instead of telling them that she is going to marry a man she never met, she lies. The questions she has going through her head, her observations all were spot on to how I would be in that situation. And, what I loved about Marty, she doesn't change who she is.
Jake was a good character and one who I enjoyed seeing again. Jake was originally in another series by Tracie Peterson, Striking the Match, that was also set in Texas. Jake has moved from Texas and is now working as a banker in Colorado. To further his position in the bank, he knows that he needs to show himself as a man who is settled, to the public eye, which means he needs to be married. Which brings us to his ad in the paper in Texas.
Jake is interesting. He is a man that would love to just live a simple life, but, his boss has taken an interest him. He now has a house on the hill with the people of the upper-crust, which isn't really his cup of tea, but because his boss requires it, he does is. Jake is very dedicated to his job and wants to do his best. However, with the struggling economy, the bank Jake works at has a lot to deal with, along with some mysteries that pop up.
This is the first book in the Lone Star Brides series and I can't wait to see what happens in book two. A Sensible Arrangement left me with questions and I'm ready to see how things will play out.
Thank you to Bethany House and Litfuse, I received a copy of this book for free in exchange for an honest review.
This is the first book I have ever read by Tracie Peterson and now I'm going to have to go track down as many as I can get my hands on because it's SO GOOD!
An amazing story! Such inspiring characters!
A great, great read!
From page one I was hooked. (And I'm not much for historical fiction - I enjoy a few select authors but mostly I'm more fond of modern stories.)
I found myself attached to the characters immediately and I laugh at the few other silly reviews I've read that say the characters were very flat and unlovable.
Marty is precisely the kind of woman I would expect to read about who hails from Texas. She knows how to take care of herself and she is not afraid of a challenge.
I love how well God is interwoven into the story - even though Marty is not very fond of Him through most of the book. And it's very refreshing to see everyone around her trying to win her back to Him. Most of the books I've read about people who have lost their faith in God, show the journey back but not always by way of others trying to win them back to the Kingdom.
Tracie Peterson does this well and she does it without sounding preachy.
The book is definitely a new favorite of mine and I can't wait to read some of her other novels!
Disclaimer: I received this book free in exchange for an honest review.
A fun and a bit serious story, Tracie L. Peterson certainly can write a great tale of excitement, drama, romantic mystery, and shadowy incidents, mixed with dreams of being somewhere else in time and geography. There is an old adage of "be careful for what one wishes for" throughout the message of this book.
Widowed and childless Marty Olson wanted to escape from memories of tragically losing her beloved husband, and leave Texas forever where she owns and lives on a ranch. Jake Wythe, a Denver banker, singed around the edges one last time from romance, places a newspaper ad for a Texas woman to marry in name only. Jake is in need of a wife to satisfy the bank board members determined notion that his promotion puts him in a higher level of Denver society. Marty answers the ad on complete acceptance of Jake's terms. Unknown to Marty, Jake, a native Texan longs to return to the Lone Star state and run a ranch.
Marty is quite adept at telling little fibs that create larger problems that spin into a web of hurt and misunderstanding for loved ones and new friends. She does not tell her sister and family the truth about going to Colorado - only that she plans to visit friends. This time, a lie of omission. Shades of Annie Oakley! Marty takes a stage coach into Denver and becomes a pistol-packing damsel to save the lives of the passengers and drivers from a stage robbery. Our heroine soon becomes the talk and news sensation of Denver and awes the society she has joined as Mrs. Jacob Wythe. The character quality in Marty's habit was disturbing to me, however I surmised Ms. Peterson had sensible reasons for this flaw. We will find Marty's redeeming qualities in other area of her character concerning orphans.
Much is going on with the newlyweds - will love blossom now that Marty and Jake are secretly attracted to one another? How does Marty, married to a rich banker, handle being included with society wives and living a lie as a new bride? Is Jake suspected as being part of the scheme of missing funds at the bank? The stories developing around the household servants are entertaining and humor provoking. It seems the only real friend Marty has in Denver is Alice, her lady's maid. But, what does Alice have to do with information about the missing funds? Why was she attacked to be robbed of something she knew nothing about?
The plot continues to thicken. Marty becomes anguished over Jake's intentions of returning to Texas and how she can keep the truth of her ranch from him. We learn throughout the story that God is in control. The truth will out, but what happens? There are some loose ends in the story, however I believe there is purpose in this gifted writers tactics. Ms. Tracie Peterson has successfully written many books, of which The Sensible Arrangement is my first read. You have made an impression on my reading tastes, Ms. Peterson, I anticipate reading the next book in this series as well as the many others you have written. Your faith in our heavenly Father and His love for you brightly shine through your pen hand. You are indeed blessed.
A complimentary copy of this book was provided for review.
A Sensible Arrangement is the first book that I have read by Tracie Peterson. I found it to be an easy and smooth read, with interesting characters.
Jake and Marty agree to a marriage of convenience early on in the book and Marty travels from Texas to Colorado as a mail-order bride. There's a little bit of tension between the two as they get to know each other, but otherwise, they fall into a fairly easygoing friendship. We follow Marty as she learns her duties in high society and tries to find a way to be useful. We watch Jake as he works as a bank manager in very stressful financial times.
Marty was a complicated heroine. I liked her, but there things that really bothered me about her, too. She struggles with a very large personality flaw_she lies. She has a real problem understanding that lies and lies by omission are damaging to others. Marty also has big anger problems toward God. The dialogue between Marty and her ladies maid, Alice, is a wonderful explanation of why bad things happen and what role God plays in that. The author handled this so well. There is also some mystery and danger in this book, especially toward the end.
I have to admit that I expected the book to tie all of the loose ends up, but it didn't. I feel that this must be in preparation for the next book in the series. I definitely plan to read the rest of the series and I still felt satisfied at the end of the story. Even though there are some questions left unanswered, it is not a cliff hanger ending and I appreciate that!
I received a complimentary copy of this book from Bethany House Publishers in exchange for an honest review, which I have given.