book, Book Review

A Bride for Keeps by Melissa Jaegears

About the Book: Book - A Bride for Keeps
Author: Melissa Jagears
Source: Giveaway Win
Publisher: Bethany House
Publication Date: 2013
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Series: Unexpected Brides, book 1
Genre: Historical Fiction, Romance
Rating: 4 ½ out of 5

Review: Debut authors have been on fire in the Christian fiction market these past few years – each time I close a new book (such names as Dani Pettrey to Katherine Reay to Becky Wade come to mind, and many more I’ve yet to “meet”), I am in awe of the talent these publishers are acquiring. Melissa Jagears saw her publishing ambitions come true among the crop of the best 2013 had to offer for new talent. The story is a familiar one, this time it’s about the educated and proper Julia Lockwood, a beauty who is running from secrets of her own past. She’s come west under the assumption she has a husband waiting for her at the end of the line only to realize the man she thought was going to marry her never sent for a mail-order bride. Everett Cline is done with women. He’s tried the mail-order bride game and each time it backfired on him. Now, he’s through. Trouble is, Julia has nowhere to go and Everett feels a duty to protect her – even if that means keeping her at arm’s length to avoid what his heart is telling him.

Honestly, I’ve probably not read a piece of mail-order bride fiction in nearly ten years. Maybe it’s because I binge read a cute series that dealt with the subject as a teen or more likely, it’s because I “grew out” of the genre. When I had the chance to read this novel, I settled in for what I expected to be an adequate read. Imagine my delight when this became one of the reads that was simply put, hard to put down. It didn’t take long for the story to expand and ingrain itself in my mind and goodness, did Melissa ever do a brilliant job with this story. Smartly woven into the familiar, Jagears takes out a new playbook on the traditions, placing her own moniker on an oft-retold, albeit beloved sense of timeless story. Julia and Everett are beautifully flawed, which makes them relatable and charming all at once. Both have a kind of sad, tragic backstory that never falls into the trap of being over sympathized and is instead just quietly told in its own time and way. Julia’s fragility is celebrated with class and grace while Everett’s own struggles are rendered to be the most poignant of the story – and while I realize that saying this from the perspective of a male character may sound a bit “strange,” it really is not. I think I liked Everett the best of the lot (tough since I did enjoy everyone) and felt like he was a deserving, well-rounded hero, who was so much more than merely a guy I felt “so-so” about because of how he cared, thought and treated the heroine – and certainly, there was no sense of obligation to like him just because he was the hero.

If you like this genre or are in the market for something a little “different,” consider Melissa’s charming debut. She puts new life into this story and the results are anything but old-fashioned – in fact, I’m glad the release of book two is knocking on our doorstep!

Synopsis: Everett Cline will never humiliate himself by seeking a mail-order bride. Not again. He’s already been jilted by three mail-order brides and figures a wife just isn’t in his future. However, a well-meaning neighbor hasn’t given up on seeing him settled, so she goes behind his back to bring yet another woman to town for him.

Julia Lockwood has never been anything more than a pretty pawn for her father or a business acquisition for her former fiance. A mail-order marriage in faraway Kansas is a last resort, but she’ll do anything to leave her life in Massachusetts and the heartbreak she’s experienced there.

Although Everett doesn’t see how a beautiful, cultured woman like Julia could be happy sharing his simple life, he could really use a helpmate on his homestead. Determined to prove she’s more than just a pretty face, Julia agrees to a marriage in name only. Faced with the harsh realities of life on the prairie and hesitant to explore the tentative feelings growing between them, can Everett and Julia ever let each other in long enough to fall in love? – Goodreads

11685 BrideInStore_CVR_mck.inddComing Next from Mellissa Jagears: Mail-order bride Eliza Cantrell is on her way to meet her intended groom and help him grow his general store business when her train is held up by robbers and she loses her dowry. She’s further thwarted upon arriving in Salt Flatts only to find Axel, her groom, away on business.

Hoping a wife would push Axel to become a better business partner, William Stanton had encouraged him to seek a mail-order bride. With Axel gone, Will feels responsible for Eliza, so he finds her a place to stay and lets her help in the store.

Working together isn’t what they’d expected, and when Axel is further delayed, neither can ignore the sparks that fly. But Eliza is meant for Axel and is set on a future with the store, while Will is biding time until he can afford medical school.

Their troubles are far from over when Axel returns to town, however, and soon both Will and Eliza must decide what they’re willing to sacrifice to chase their dreams–or if God has a new dream in store for them both.


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