I picked a copy of this book a thrift shop while on vacation in Amish Country. With the entire extended family in the car with us, I sat in the back with the shorter people–vertically challenged here–and I discovered I get car sick if I play on my phone or stare out the back windows too long. Oddly enough, I’ve also discovered that if I read a book, I can push aside motion sickness. Thus I snatched the first Christian book that looked interesting I could find. (Not an Amish fiction gal.)
I found The Bride Bargain to be a fun and distracting read. The play on a match-making scheme plot was delightful and entertaining. The hero and heroine were believable and engaging. I also found delight in all the little details of country life, life on a wagon train, and details you don’t typically find in a novel like this one. There is something to be said for nailing the end though, and there was just something off about the conclusion that made me give it a four-star instead of a five. Without giving spoilers, I found some of the character reactions a little unbelievable. I still enjoyed the ending, but not perhaps as much as I hoped I would.
I would recommend this book to readers who enjoy the wild west, small-town settings, match-making plots, and strong-willed women.
When Clara Fields and her aunt are kicked off their wagon train, a store owner in Buttonwood offers a chance at redemption. Desperate, she agrees to find a bride for the man’s son—a stalwart bachelor. Will Clara’s faith and wits help her wrangle a resolution to The Bride Bargain?
What I loved: I loved all the match-making schemes of Josiah and then Clara. I don’t want to spoil the story, but let’s just say some of it is comical.
Favorite Character and Why: Midge is a little girl Saul (the hero) rescues, and I just lover her little soul. She’s had a rough go of it, but she grows and becomes quite the character. Her love for Saul and her desire to please leads to some fun co-conspiracy.
Rating and Why: Four Stars. The ending really knocked it down from a five to a four. Still completely enjoyable, I just didn’t find the character reactions to be in line with what I expect to be real.
This week I decided to share my comfort reads, the books I run to when I just want something familiar and comfortable. What is your favorite comfort book?
In no particular order, here are my top ten favorites to re-read:
Brentwood’s Ward by Michelle Griep – Place an unpolished lawman named Nicholas Brentwood as guardian over a spoiled, pompous beauty named Emily Payne and what do you get? More trouble than Brentwood bargains for. She is determined to find a husband this season. He just wants the large fee her father will pay him to help his ailing sister. After a series of dire mishaps, both their desires are thwarted, but each discovers that no matter what, God is in charge.
A Cross-Country Trip through Regency England Brings Intrigue, Rogues, and High Adventure
The must-read conclusion to Michelle Griep’s Bow Street Runners Trilogy
The Hawk and the Jewel by Lori Wick – Everyone thought little Sunny had perished with Lady Gallagher in storm-tossed seas off the Arabian coast, but the beautiful toddler had been found, taken to the palace of Darhabar, and raised as the ruler’s own child. Now the emir, Ahmad Khan, is sending her home, and Sunny’s uncertain, new life is completely in God’s hands.
The Knight and the Dove by Lori Wick – When the king commands Bracken to marry, high-spirited Megan is chosen to fulfill the edict. Unskilled in the ways of love, Bracken finds Megan captivating, yet cannot seem to voice his feelings until he almost loses her forever.
A Rumored Fortuneby Joanna Davidson Politano – Tressa Harlowe’s father did not trust banks, but neither did he trust his greedy extended family. He kept his vast fortune hidden somewhere on his estate in the south of England and died suddenly, without telling anyone where he had concealed it. She’ll have to work with the rough and rusticated vineyard manager to keep the laborers content without pay and discover the key to finding her father’s fortune–before someone else finds it first.
When Comes the Spring by Janette Oke – Elizabeth, the cultured young schoolteacher from the East, has braved the western frontier and spent a year teaching in a one-room schoolhouse. Now she and Wynn are planning their wedding and their new life together at his outpost in the far north. While Wynn is accustomed to life in the north, Elizabeth is not. Can their love for each other sustain them through a harsh winter, loneliness, and rigors of life without any of the conveniences they’re used to?
No one steps on Archer land. Not if they value their life. But when Travis Archer confronts a female trespasser with the same vivid blue eyes as the courageous young girl he once aided, he can’t bring himself to send her away. And when an act of sacrifice leaves her injured and her reputation in shreds, gratitude and guilt send him riding to her rescue once again.
Seven Brides for Seven Texans – Meet the seven Hart brothers of the 7-Heart ranch in central Texas. Each man is content in his independent life, without the responsibilities of a wife and children—until their father decides 1874 will be the year his grown sons finally marry, or they will be cut from his will. How will each man who values his freedom respond to the ultimatum? Can love develop on a timeline, or will it be sacrificed for the sake of an inheritance?
No One Is Too Tough to be Loved Join seven Texas Rangers on the hunt for a menacing gang, who run straight into romances with women who foil their plans for both the job and their futures.
Fancy Pants by Cathy Marie Hake – When “Big Tim” Creighton spies the mincing fop headed toward Forsaken Ranch, he is appalled. Thankful his boss isn’t around to witness the arrival of his kin, Tim decides he’ll turn “Fancy Pants” Hathwell into a man worthy of respect. Lady Sydney Hathwell never intended to don men’s attire, but when her uncle mistakenly assumed she was a male, the answer to her problems seemed clear. When her deception is exposed, will she be forced to abandon her hopes for family…and true love?
And a bonus…
Plots and Pans by Kelly Eileen Hake – The ability to follow orders—his orders—is the #1 job requirement for anybody joining cowboy Tucker Carmichael’s cattle drive. He knows that on the Chisholm Trail a moment’s hesitation can mean death. So when his partner’s headstrong sister, Jessalyn, joins their team as chuck wagon cook, sparks start to fly! Is God “stirring up” romance?
This one has been on my TBR pile for a while and I finally scrounged up an audio copy and enjoyed listening to it while a chaotic January had me disinfecting the house… over and over and over.
Genre: Christian Historical Romance, Western, 1879
Overview of Plot:
Jessalyn is a born and bred Texas cowgirl, but after a disaster at home, her father sent her away to boarding school in England. Tucker is a man’s man, one who works hard, gives orders, and doesn’t take any shirking of duties lightly. While Jessalyn has been away, he has grown from a green ranch had to foreman and part owner of the ranch.
When Jessalyn’s father dies while she is away, her brother and Tucker decide to leave her in England, just until the cattle drive is over, but Jessalyn is a strong-willed and determined as any character you will ever meet. By herself, she crosses the ocean and most of the country to make it home.
Trouble ensues as she tries to prove her place is on the ranch and that she is worthy to be there. Tucker just wants to keep her safe, but the hard-headed woman is not content to stay home in the kitchen.
Favorite Character and Why:
Jessalyn was my absolute favorite. That little rascal is kind of how I envision myself. She has done a lot of raising herself and is independent, determined, and willing to do whatever needs to be done. I also identify with her struggle for self-worth.
What I liked:
This story had a lot of witty banter and funny situation. I love how Jessalyn’s family situation is unique and she is not taken aback by it. She stands up to defend those who dare to degrade them. I won’t say more about that situation because you have to read it to find out.
Kelly developed wonderful characters that were a pleasure to spend my time with. The romance thread was not your typical sweet instances, but there were moments, and in the end, she did bring it all together. In some ways, I wondered how they could really be sure they loved each other, but the story worked.
Who would like this:
Anyone who is a fan of strong women, witty banter, is not looking for a gushy romance but a sweet read, and anyone who enjoys stories written with western settings.
“Order dictates Tucker Carmichael’s life—his orders. On a cattle drive, a moment’s hesitation can mean death. The Chisholm Trail is dirty, dangerous, and no place for women. After years at school, Jessalyn Culpepper has come home and is determined to show everyone that a woman can manage everything from cooking to cattle—whether they like it or not! Tucker tries to manage his partner’s headstrong sister, horrified when she wants to join the cattle drive. But when they need a chuck wagon cook, Jessalyn seems the only solution. Will God stir up love along a trail filled with their Plots and Pans?”