December 11, 2013

We Need To Talk

A Bride for Keeps by Melissa Jagears

Release Date: October 1, 2013
Publisher: Bethany House Publishers
Pages: 334 pages
Source & Format: NetGalley: e-ARC / Gifted; Kindle e-book
Amazon | Goodreads

Summary (from Goodreads)
Although Everett Cline can hardly keep up with the demands of his homestead, he won't humiliate himself by looking for a helpmate ever again - not after being jilted by three mail-order brides. When a well-meaning neighbor goes behind his back to bring yet another mail-order bride to town, he has good reason to doubt it will work, especially after getting a glimpse at the woman in question. She's the prettiest woman he's ever seen, and it's just not possible she's there to marry a simple homesteader like him.

Julia Lockwood has never been anything more than a pretty pawn for her father or a business acquisition for her former fiancé. Having finally worked up the courage to leave her life in Massachusetts, she's determined to find a place where people will value her for more than her looks. Having run out of all other options, Julia resorts to a mail-order marriage in far-away Kansas.

Everett is skeptical a cultured woman like Julia could be happy in a life on the plains, while Julia, deeply wounded by a past relationship, is skittish at the idea of marriage at all. When, despite their hesitations, they agree to a marriage in name only, neither one is prepared for the feelings that soon arise to complicate their arrangement. Can two people accustomed to keeping their distance let the barricades around their hearts down long enough to fall in love?

Thoughts on A Bride for Keeps
I was really excited when I was approved for A Bride for Keeps on NetGalley, and then I was really disappointed when I realized I'd forgotten to download it before it was archived. Talk about a bummer! Thankfully, my sweet best friend gifted me a Kindle copy as an early Christmas gift, so I was back in business with this book.

A Bride for Keeps is Melissa Jagears debut, so I was really looking forward to a new face in Christian historical fiction. This book tells the story of Everett Cline - a man who has been jilted by three mail-order brides... not to mention what happened with the first woman he was intending to marry! He's done with trying to find a wife, but that doesn't stop his meddling neighbor from getting involved. Soon enough, there's another woman on her way out West, and Everett has no idea.

Julia Lockwood has never been more than a pretty face to other people, and she's been used by both her father and fiancé. She writes to someone regarding being a mail-order bride, and she makes a new friend in the process. Longing for an escape, she decides to head to Kansas and leave everything she's ever known behind.

After a string of really disappointing reads, A Bride for Keeps was just what I needed! It was definitely somewhat predictable, but I still thoroughly enjoyed it. The driving conflict of the book was the tension between Julia and Everett. They decide to marry, despite barely knowing one another, on the agreement that it will be a marriage in name only. As you can probably guess, that's not really a great way to have a successful marriage.

Julia and Everett each have a lot of baggage that they aren't willing to talk about with one another, and it plays a huge role in the problems they have in their marriage. As such, miscommunication and misunderstanding are a huge issue in this book. While I enjoy those elements, I do know some readers who get frustrated when characters' issues could be much more easily resolved if they would just sit down and have an honest conversation.

The majority of the conflict is really internal. It's their expectations, their past hurts, their unspoken needs that leave these two constantly on different pages in their relationship. As someone who has only been married a little over two years, I actually liked that the book was so focused on their communication issues. Communication has honestly been at the root of many of our arguments, although never to this extent. However, I could still relate to the way they struggled to understand each other at times.

There was one storyline that seemed like it was introduced and left somewhat unresolved, but it was minor thing so it didn't detract from my overall enjoyment of the book. The only real reason it wasn't a new favorite is because their issues did get old after awhile. I was ready to smack them both and tell them to actually talk by the time they actually started to sort through their problems. Since it got a little repetitive and drawn out, it kept me from totally and completely loving this read.

All that being said, A Bride for Keeps was fun and enjoyable. The romance was sweet, the characters were likable and their marriage issues were kind of relatable. I think fans of Christian historical fiction will enjoy this debut from Jagears. I look forward to more from her in the future!

So Quotable
"His prayer was so different, like a conversation. People should not talk to the Almighty God like they were friends. It simply wasn't done."
*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.

8 comments:

  1. I didn't know they still wrote stories with this kind of storyline! I actually enjoy reading about marriages of conveniences in which the couple falls in love :)

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    1. Haha yeah I love this kind of storyline! It would never work in a modern setting (as far as I can think of), but it's fun in a historical fiction book. I love when they end up in love, too!

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  2. I loved this one. So much so that I'm struggling to review it. Did you read the freebie prequel?

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    1. I haven't read the prequel, but obviously I need to!

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  3. This book sounds pretty interesting! I haven't read a lot of Christian fiction, if I'm being honest. But I have read a book or two featuring a mail-order bride, so that aspect definitely got my attention. I might just have to check this out!

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    1. Having read a lot of Christian fiction, I feel like I can tell pretty well when it's one that would work as a more mainstream book too. Faith is definitely important in this book, but I don't think it ever felt heavy-handed or out of place.

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  4. Ok, so I was in a Family Christian store the other day picking up a Christmas present for someone and I noticed this book in the fiction section. I wondered if you had reviewed it yet because it looked familiar, and lo and behold, up pops your review in my feed! I'm glad this novel was just what you needed to get out of your reading slump. I love Christian historical fiction for that -- it makes me SO happy!!

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    1. Haha I love that! And yes, I love Christian historical fiction whenever I need to get out of a reading slump. It works so well for that!

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