Title: A Reluctant Bride (The Bride Ships #1)
Author: Jody Hedlund
Genre: Historical Fiction
Publishing Date: June 4, 2019
Length: 352 pages
About the Book:
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?
Jody Hedlund has officially penned the latest must-read in historical fiction! This is not a book that is merely read, but experienced. The author is able to draw you so deeply into the heart of the characters that it’s as if you are standing right amongst them. I was not ready to let them go when there were no pages left to go. I absolutely loved this story, and am already impatiently waiting for the next release in the series!
My favorite part of this book was the romance. I am a very picky person when it comes to the romance in novels. I love that the development of the relationship between the characters came primarily from a place of caring for the person and not the phsyical attraction. Joseph and Mercy each saw the other acting in love to the sick and hurting around them, and it was their care and compassionate hearts that initially forged their relationship. Although as time went by their phyiscal chemistry significantly increased, it was never the primary catalyst. I fully prefer a romance that is built on character and developing a love for one another on a deeper level than their physical appearance. Maybe it’s because I’m caught in a world where we are constantly bombarded with the idea that our worth is based on our physical appearance, but when I read a book I want to escape that. I want to enter a world where people see the heart before the curves. That’s why I fell so deeply into this novel and didn’t want to leave when the pages were finished.
One of the other pieces of this story that I believe was fleshed out extremely well, was considering how the upbringing of a person affects their life as adults. Wealth and social standing can buy a great deal in life, but it can’t purchase happiness. Despite being born into a wealthy family, Joseph lost them when he was a young boy to cholera. It left him afraid to love so he’d never have to say goodbye. Mercy grew up in a poverty stricken family with a mother who was constantly bringing more babies into the world with questionable paternity. Mercy questioned if love even existed. There was a great deal of growth and healing that had to occur in the hearts of the two before they could see how desperate they were for love and connection. Little did they know just how much that connection could heal.
I was surprised how much of this journey was based on actual people and events. I always appreciate when an author shares some of the fact or fiction in their notes at the end of one of their works. As connected as I felt to this story as I was reading, I feel even moreso knowing just how steeped in reality it truly was. I am already impatiently waiting for the next book in this series to release so that I can reenter their world. This one has successfully sealed a spot on my favorites list for this year!
*I received a copy of this book from the author. Thoughts and opinions expressed are mine alone.