A Reluctant Bride by Jody Hedlund – Book Review, Preview

Posted June 4, 2019 by Phyllis Helton in Book Reviews /

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As the wind picked up and the waves rocked the boat, I discovered something about myself of which I had previously been unaware. I get seasick.

The Honor Society students from my school were on our way over to Catalina Island on the ferry and though the distance wasn’t that great, the discomfort I felt was. I don’t recall why I did this, whether it was a suggestion or sheer luck, but I went to the back of the boat and watched the port as it disappeared. I found that this calmed the roiling of my stomach. Once the land disappeared from sight, I went to the front of the boat and was able to catch a glimpse of the island.

On the return trip, and on others since, when I’ve been on a boat I’ve used the same tactic successfully.

I’ve heard that being able to keep your eyes on a fixed object will keep the seasickness at bay. However, on one whale-watching trip I was on, we were so far out from shore that there was nothing to watch and it was much harder to keep my insides calm.

Imagine being on an ocean journey lasting for months!

A Reluctant Bride by Jody Hedlund – Book Review, Preview

A Reluctant Bride
by Jody Hedlund


Series: The Bride Ships #1
Published by Bethany House Publishers
Publication Date June 4, 2019
Genres: Historical Fiction, Christian Fiction, Clean Romance
Setting: England, Canada Victorian Era – UK – 1837 – 1901
Main Character Ages: 18-24, 25-34
Written for: Adults
Pages: 329

Synopsis:

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?

I would like to thank Bethany House Publishers, Netgalley for giving me this copy of the book. This gift did not influence my opinion or review.

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While I’ve heard of mail-order brides, I had never heard of bride ships prior to learning about A Reluctant Bride. (Except those that brought women to Australia to marry the convicts there.) So it was fascinating to discover that ships once brought women to Canada from England in response to the pleas of the men who lived there, outnumbering the women exponentially.

Mercy’s story highlights the deplorable conditions of the poor in London in the mid-nineteenth century. Reading about the filth, disease, and abject poverty made me cringe, especially the details of the occupation Ash, Mercy’s father, had. Eew!!

It was easy to see the desperation Mercy felt that led her to embark on the journey to Victoria, British Columbia. It was a humorous touch that Mercy didn’t realize it was a bride ship – she thought the mission society was simply looking for domestic workers.

As the living embodiment of her name, Mercy had a heart bigger than most. She cared for the neglected children in her slum as much as she could, even sacrificially. She so naturally assumed the role of surrogate mother to the young orphans on the ship and assisted the handsome young ship’s surgeon in caring for the sick.

I was very interested in the historical details shared along the way, descriptions of life on board and the conditions of the various strata of passengers, learning about the improved methods of sailing to compensate for the times when the winds were not sufficient to propel the ship, and the glimpse of the Falkland Islands.

Class distinctions and feelings of inferiority permeated Mercy and Joseph’s lives. She struggled with the intense need to be nothing like her immoral mother and feelings of inadequacy, which were echoed to her even by the minister who chaperoned the brides. Joseph struggled with a heart closed off to love because of the loss he had experienced.

Overall, the story was interesting, yet it did drag a little. The backstory of one of the brides was alluded to enough so I want to know more about Miss Lawrence’s history and what happens next. I am hoping to read more about her in a future story of The Bride Ships series.

Jody's Bride Ship Series Pinterest Board

(click here to go directly to the board on Pinterest)
  • Publishers Weekly Starred review of A Reluctant Bride
  • Cape Horn
  • Vancouver Island
  • Vancouver Island
  • workhouse  women
  • Pauper women picking oakum in the workhouse
  • WORKHOUSE Paupers breaking stones in a British workhouse in the 1850s Stock Photo
  • Workhouses
  • Workhouse
  • Vancouver Island
  • Victoria 1860s
  • Slums - The British Library
  • Slums - The British Library
  • Straits of Juan de Fuca
  • Miss Maria Rye
  • Columbia Mission Society
  • Another Lambeth picture, this time of the Thames foreshore where many people found work as labourers or sailors, shortly before the building of the Albert Embankment in 1866-9. It is part of a collection of images by William Strudwick, which are among the only surviving mid 19th-century images of a London working class district.    Dickens’s Victorian London by Alex Werner and Tony Williams is published by Ebury, £25
  • A Reluctant Bride (The Bride Ships): Jody Hedlund: 9780764232954: Amazon.com: Books
  • Victoria Harbor

About Jody Hedlund

Jody Hedlund is the author of over a dozen novels, including Love Unexpected, Captured by Love, Unending Devotion, The Preacher’s Bride, and A Noble Groom, winner of the 2014 Carol Award for historical romance. She received a bachelor’s degree from Taylor University and a master’s from the University of Wisconsin, both in social work. She lives in Michigan with her husband and five children. She loves hearing from readers on Facebook and on her blog

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2 responses to “A Reluctant Bride by Jody Hedlund – Book Review, Preview

  1. debraemarvin

    I love seeing Authors’ pinterest boards for a book, but I often don’t look until I’m almost done with the book. This way I can compare my impression of the characters with the author’s.

    • Yeah, I usually don’t look until afterward. I’ve learned that many authors don’t actually create the boards until the book has been written which surprised me.

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