April 26, 2013

A Good Man is Hard to Find

A Noble Groom by Jody Hedlund

Release Date: April 2013
Publisher: Bethany House
Pages: 363 pages
Source: NetGalley; e-ARC
Amazon Goodreads

Summary (from Goodreads)
Recently widowed Annalisa Werner has the feeling her husband was murdered but can't prove it. Alone with her young daughter in 1881 Michigan, she has six months left to finish raising the money needed to pay back the land contract her husband purchased, and the land is difficult to toil by herself. She needs a husband. With unmarried men scarce, her father sends a letter to his brother in the Old Country, asking him to find Annalisa a groom.

For nobleman Carl von Reichert, the blade of the guillotine is his fate. He's been accused and convicted of a serious crime he didn't commit, and his only escape is to flee to a small German community in Michigan where he'll be safe. He secures a job on Annalisa's farm but bumbles through learning about farming and manual labor.

Annalisa senses that Karl is harboring a secret about his past, yet she finds herself drawn to him anyway. He's gentle, kind, and romantic - unlike any of the men she's ever known. He begins to restore her faith in the ability to love - but her true groom is still on his way. And time is running out on them all.

Thoughts on A Noble Groom
Back in January, I wrote mini-reviews for Hedlund's first three books and noted that fans of Christian historical fiction would certainly want to look into this author. Well, after reading her fourth book, I'm happy to report that Hedlund is still writing "engaging stories with interesting characters," as I previously described her books.

As with her other books, A Noble Groom was very much rooted in Hedlund's historical research. With all of her books, there have been notes at the end detailing the inspiration for her stories and the stories and lives they are based on. While I'm no historian, I have read a ton of historical fiction. One pet peeve I often have is when the story feels modern - overlaid onto a historical setting merely for the appeal of that time period. Thankfully, Hedlund's historical fiction feels realistic, believable, authentic AND focuses on a time period or piece of that time period that I'm often not familiar with.

In A Noble Groom, the main characters are German immigrants living and farming in Michigan. I've honestly never read a book like it. I loved how Hedlund shows you how the people have retained their language, customs, and beliefs from the old home. And she doesn't try to gloss over the hard work required to survive or the harsh attitude many had towards women.

When Annalisa's husband dies, she knows that she must remarry in order to provide for her daughter and child on the way. She also needs to pay off the loan on her farm and protect it from the lumber baron who is intent on having it for himself. It is decided that her new husband will come from Germany, and she must fend for herself until his arrival. She has no say in the decision, no real voice in her own future.

When a man finally arrives from Germany, they learn that he isn't the groom they were all expecting. He is Carl Richards, a man on the run from his past and hiding his true identity. My favorite thing about Carl was that treats Annalisa so differently. He encourages her to have an opinion, and he is gentle and understanding with her daughter. Annalisa is caught off guard, and it's not hard to see where their story is headed.

Was a little predictable? Maybe. But that doesn't mean I didn't fly through the pages! I thought this was such a nice change of pace from what I'd been reading, and it certainly cemented Hedlund as a historical fiction writer that I'll return to again and again. The characters are engaging, the romance is charming, and the story is well-researched. For me, that's an awesome combination and made for a great read!

*I received a copy of this book from Bethany House in exchange for an honest review. I was not compensated in any way for my review.

4 comments:

  1. I love the sound of this book! It sounds very sweet, and I literally sighed after reading the summary. I'd read it just to find out what happens to these two characters! So glad that you enjoyed it.

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    Replies
    1. Yeah, it's definitely a sweet read! Perfect for just a light afternoon where you want something quick and delightful.

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  2. Okay, can I tell you how in love with this cover I am? It's bordering on ridiculous. Do not judge me.

    Anyway, this sounds so good! With the historical elements firmly in place and researched + family/relationship heavy plot, I am SOLD.

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    Replies
    1. I really like this cover, too, and I don't always love covers with people on them.

      Hope you enjoy if you end up reading it!

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