Book Summary (Amazon): Living in London's poorest slum, Mercy Wilkins has little hope of a better life. When she's offered an opportunity to join a bride ship sailing to British Columbia, she agrees. After witnessing so much painful heartache and loss in the slums, the bride ship is her only prospect to escape a bleak future, not only for herself but, she hopes, someday for her sister.
Wealthy and titled Joseph Colville leaves home and takes to the sea in order to escape the pain of losing his family. As ship's surgeon, he's in charge of the passengers' welfare aboard the Tynemouth, including sixty brides-to-be. He has no immediate intention of settling down, but when Mercy becomes his assistant, the two must fight against a forbidden love.
With hundreds of single men congregating on the shore eager to claim a bride from the Tynemouth, will Mercy and Joseph lose their chance at true love, or will they be able to overcome the obstacles that threaten to keep them apart?
My thoughts...A Reluctant Bride is the first book in a new historical series by Jody Hedlund. As a loyal fan of Jody's books, I was really excited for this new perspective on a type of mail order bride story. The romantic aspect of this genre is usually my favorite part, and Hedlund is able to write those moments of romantic tension like no other! The building up of anticipation between the hero and heroine are fantastic! There is so much more to this story, though, than romance. The historical detail, the sights, sounds, and smells that Mercy, Joseph and the other passengers encountered on the ship, made the story come to life. This story is also parallel to true events, so imagining what these poor women went through that led up to the decision of being promised to strangers in a wild land, then all that they experienced on the long ship voyage, really tugged at my heart strings. They endured so much hardship. These women were extremely vulnerable physically but many of them also didn't have a formal education, which was displayed in Mercy's character. Despite her lack of schooling, she showed a determination to learn, support herself, and independently make her way in her new homeland. I really loved Mercy's fighting spirit! And what would a good story be without a hero who champions the cause of those in need?! Joseph is conflicted throughout the novel between his feelings and obligations. His character development was also a satisfying part of the story.
If you like historical Christian fiction, you'll certainly enjoy this new series!
**I received a complimentary copy of this novel from the publisher via NetGalley in order to share my honest opinions, which I did.**