Monday, February 22, 2010
A Bride Most Begrudging by Deeanne Gist
Bethany House Publishers
Published July 1, 2005
Trade Paperback, 352 pages
Lady Constance Morrow is a feisty redhead who is brought to America against her will. She is educated with above-average mathematical skills, rare even for London society, but unheard of in the Virginia Colonies. Soon after she arrives, she is forced into marriage with a tobacco farmer, Drew O’Connor, who bought her to be a household maid and not a wife.
The premise of the story is very interesting and caught my attention, however, I had some difficulty with the first half of the book. The main character’s reaction to her whole bleak situation seems a little unrealistic and her adjustment too quick. After all, she is the daughter of an earl who is kidnapped as a felon and sold as a tobacco bride. She is humiliated and starved for 2 months at sea (while her beloved uncle dies on the same ship), and then married off to a farmer who lives together with his brother, sister and grandmother in a one-room isolated cottage with a dirt floor, no privy, and no privacy. She must now learn to cook, milk the goat, lug and wash the dishes at the creek, weed the garden, etc. It was hard for me to believe she would accept her situation so readily, when not a few months earlier she was living in luxury with servants at her beck and call.
What’s more, her behavior is at times childish and unladylike and more reflective of a young adult in the 21st century than a noble lady of the 17th. I enjoyed the second half better as the action picked up, romantic tension built up and both hers and Drew’s past is revealed, and I was able to feel closer to the characters, to understand them better. It’s strange but the second half of the book read differently from the first. The characters were more vivid, their speech and expressions different.
Mary proved to be a remarkable character but I couldn’t quite figure out the inappropriate behavior of Josh (Drew’s brother) toward her. I also couldn’t figure out the status of Drew’s family. When something is revealed about his grandmother at the end of the book, I wondered why the author did not develop the relationship between Constance and the grandmother better.
From a writer’s perspective, the author did an excellent job of portraying life in the Colonies and blending fiction with actual historical events. The story also came to a satisfying conclusion. This book is a Christian fiction with many references to Biblical passages. I did not mind this except when reference was made that it was God’s will to take children who died, which was a stark reality in the Colonies. I do not believe God takes children away from their parents.
All in all, this was an entertaining clean read, and fans of historical romance will not be disappointed.
Disclosure: I traded this book from BookMooch.