“A Reluctant Bride” Book Review

Several years ago, while I was in college, I stopped reading Christian fiction. The more I learned about writing and literature, the less impressed I was with the inspirational market. I felt the books were poorly written and too preachy. I don’t like shoe-horned themes or author agendas shoved in my face even when the author and I share a faith.

Then a few years ago, I gave it another chance after a review of Francine Rivers’ book Redeeming Love* caught my eye. That book was so good it convinced me to give the Christian fiction market another try. And I’m glad I did, or I wouldn’t be writing about the book that’s the subject of today’s post.

  • please note that links in this post marked with an * are affiliate links, which means that at no additional cost to you, I’ll receive a small commission if you click on the link and make a purchase.

Jody Hedlund’s A Reluctant Bride kicks off her new Bride Ships series series with a heartwarming slow-burn romance. This historical fiction novel, set in the Victorian era, follows the story of Mercy Wilkins. Mercy — a compassionate, selfless young woman who grew up in one of the poorest areas of London — follows her sister’s advice to immigrate to Vancouver with a group promising jobs. It’s only after she’s on board the ship that she learns the women sailing with the Columbia Mission Society will be offered jobs only temporarily. This is a bride ship, and those traveling on-board will be expected to marry once they arrive — something Mercy has no intention of ever doing.

As one would expect from this type of story, there’s a man on board this ship with the potential to change Mercy’s mind. Lord Joseph Colville is heir to one of the noble families of England. Since the death of his parents and brother, he’s been delegating his political and social responsibilities to his aunt and focusing on his passion for medicine. He’s the doctor aboard the bride ship and fully intends to continue traveling for a few more years before settling down. But when Mercy becomes his assistant, they both start thinking that maybe marriage wouldn’t be so bad. Unfortunately, he’s supposed to marry someone from his station and she’s supposed to marry one of the men waiting in British Columbia.

I’ll not spoil anything about the ending for you, since I hope some of you will decide to read this for yourselves. But I will say I loved the characters. The faith elements weave through the story naturally and the plot kept me turning pages eager to see how events played out.

I always appreciate when historical fiction engages with the characters’ time period in a believable fashion. Lord Colville’s choice to work as a doctor and romance a poor working-class girl is an unusual one. However, it’s handled in a way that seems fairly realistic — including the reactions of people around them and Joseph’s and Mercy’s own recognition of the challenges they face. Parts of their romance remind me of Jane Austen’s Pride and Prejudice,* which is one of my favorite books.

I’d never had the chance to read and promote a book pre-release before, so I was very excited when Jody Hedlund opened up applications to her Reader Room group, and even more excited when I became part of the release crew for A Reluctant Bride. I love her YA medieval romance series,* and I wasn’t surprised to enjoy this book as well.

A Reluctant Bride will be out on June 4th. You can click these links to order it and to learn more about Jody Hedlund’s work. (A note for those  who, like me, enjoy print books: you won’t be disappointed with this one. The cover is absolutely beautiful, the paperback feels amazing, and pictures can’t do it justice.)

"A Reluctant Bride" Book Review | LikeAnAnchor.com

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Not Wanting To Write

It’s about 4:30 in the afternoon Sunday as I write this. Usually by this time I’m either proof-reading a completed post for Monday or wrapping-up my work on a finished idea. What’s worse, I don’t even I care that haven’t written a post yet. I mean, I’d probably care tomorrow when I wake up and realize I failed all of you readers, but at this point I’ve had too little sleep and too much Netflix to function as my normal self.

Well, perhaps not entirely. At least I’m writing about not wanting to write. It’s a start. I’ve been writing professionally long enough to know you can’t just sit around waiting for inspiration to strike if you want to get a blog post, article, story or book written. People who do that aren’t writers.

Not Wanting To Write | marissabaker.wordpress.com
photo credit: “Content writer” by Ritesh Nayak, CC BY-SA via Flickr

If you aren’t a writer you can get away with not writing when you don’t want to. Hobbies and pastimes are voluntary. But when writing is what you do you don’t just stop. In fact, if you’re doing things right, most of the time it feels like you can’t stop writing. For writers, not-writing should feel stranger than writing.

There’s a myth out there that writing is easy (“Oh, so you’re a writer? That’s cool. I might write a novel in my spare time some day”). It’s not. Yes, there will be days when the words flow out and you’re convinced what you’re writing is pure genius and you just know these words have the power to touch people’s souls. But mostly you have to sit down everyday with your pen or your laptop or your typewriter and make the words move from brain to fingers.

 

Struggling to write is perfectly okay just so long as you don’t give up. I suppose it’s that way with most things, actually. Anything worth doing is going to be hard at some point. What’s important is that we don’t stop, at least not for long. By all means take a break, eat a little chocolate and watch some anime (my sister hooked me on Fullmetal Alchemist Brotherhood), but don’t stay there.

It’s about 7:30 in the afternoon as I finish writing this. Look at that — we’ve got a finished blog post, even with the distractions of searching for quotes about writing and playing Star Trek Online. And you know what? I think I just might keep writing. My short story collection needs one more story, and there’s a character named Taline just waiting to be discovered …

 

Very Inspiring Blogger Award

very-inspiring-blogger-award1I was nominated by PearlGirl of INFJ Ramblings. Thank you so much! I wish I could nominate you back — you’re one of the bloggers whose posts I actually read on a regular basis 🙂 I’m so glad we connected through our blogging about INFJ things.

The Rules

  • Post the award on your blog
  • Thank your nominator because they’re awesome
  • List 7 facts about yourself
  • Nominate 15 other blogs for their awesomeness
  • Post the rules so people know them

Seven Facts About Me:

  1. I can’t decide whether my favorite color is rose-pink or grass-green. Or possibly plum-purple.
  2. Even though my “to-read” list is humongous, there are a few books I take the time to re-read every year or so. Mara: Daughter of the Nile by Eloise Jarvis McGraw is at the top of that list. Seriously, drop everything and go read that book. There’s danger, love, intrigue, sacrifice and the only romantic attempted murder I’ve ever seen in fiction.
  3. Much as I love Jane Austen, my favorite classic is actually Jane Eyre by Charlotte Bronte.
  4. I’d be happy if I could wear Ren Faire Costumes all the time.
  5. I love kayaking. It’s the only “sport” type of activity that I truly enjoy, even though it has been life-threatening twice (caught in bad weather on Lake George and knocked up-side-down in shallow, fast-moving water on the Mohican River).
  6. I’m considered a “Garden Specialist” on eHow, and publish quite a few articles on that site.
  7. Cheesecake is my favorite dessert, and since I started coming up with my own cheesecake recipes I’ve become something of a cheesecake snob.

My Nominees:

Yes, you’re supposed to nominate 15 other bloggers and I’ve only nominated 7. I’ll try and make up for that by telling you why I like each one.

2HelpfulGuys — I only recently started following them, but I like what I’ve read so far.

Baptism For Life — this is my dad’s blog, and while I know he won’t take the time to accept the nomination you really should check out his posts if you’re looking for inspiring bloggers.

Idle Wanderings — I always enjoy Charity’s posts and if you’re watching Grimm, I highly recommend her recent articles.

Introvert, Dear — a blog and Facebook group that is great to follow if you’re an introvert and/or HSP

Science and Faith — he’s a new blogger, and the first two posts are great. Looking forward to more!

See, there’s this thing called biology… — occasionally I disagree with this blogger. Usually, though, I’m bouncing up and down in my seat pointing at the screen and saying “That’s exactly what I think!”

SmileSupport313 — her posts are always encouraging. And she’s one of my very best friends, so of course her blog is worth reading.

 

“Daddy, give me sixpence”

marissabaker.wordpress.comWe had evening services yesterday, so there was a whole free day to fill with activities. My plan was to find all the book stores in the area and visit each, but we ended up at two antique stores and a mall instead. There was, however, a used book store in the mall, so I have one of the bookstores here checked off my list. I was particularly glad we stopped because I finally found a copy of C.S. Lewis’s Mere Christianity in hardcover for less than Amazon.com sells the paperback.

Some time ago, I signed up for an e-newsletter through biblegateway.com that sends a C.S. Lewis quote every day. This morning, it was a quote from Mere Christianity. It’s long, but I’d like to share it with you, if you don’t mind.

As a great Christian writer (George MacDonald) pointed out, every father is pleased at the baby’s first attempt to walk: no father would be satisfied with anything less than a firm, free, manly walk in a grown-up son. In the same way, he said, “God is easy to please, but hard to satisfy.”

I think every one who has some vague belief in God, until he becomes a Christian, has the idea of an exam or of a bargain in his mind. The first result of real Christianity is to blow that idea into bits. When they find it blown into bits, some people think this means that Christianity is a failure and give up. They seem to imagine that God is very simple-minded! In fact, of course, He knows all about this. One of the very things Christianity was designed to do was to blow this idea to bits. God has been waiting for the moment at which you discover that there is no question of earning a pass mark in this exam or putting Him in your debt.

Then comes another discovery. Every faculty you have, your power of thinking or of moving your limbs from moment to moment, is given you by God. If you devoted every moment of your whole life exclusively to His service you could not give Him anything that was not in a sense His own already. So that when we talk of a man doing anything for God or giving anything to God, I will tell you what it is really like. It is like a small child going to his father and saying, “Daddy, give me sixpence to buy you a birthday present.” Of course, the father does, and he is pleased with the child’s present. It is all very nice and proper, but only an idiot would think that the father is sixpence to the good on the transaction. When a man has made these two discoveries God can really get to work. It is after this that real life begins.

I think this is a great way to look at our relationship with God as His children. There’s not a thing we can do to earn salvation on our own. The second paragraph in this quote is saying basically the same thing Paul says when he writes, “For by grace you have been saved through faith, and that not of yourselves; it is the gift of God,not of works, lest anyone should boast” (Eph. 2:8-9). Every good thing in our lives is a gift directly from God. All that is good in us is a result of His work in our lives. We bring nothing to our relationship with God but our broken selves, desperately in need of Him to make us whole.

Such a realization is important because we cannot have a relationship with God without humility, and we cannot have humility if we think we are doing God a favor by agreeing to be part of His family. God’s family will be made up of people who know they have nothing to offer God and are wild with joy that He wanted to work with them anyway.