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?
Melissa Jagears’ debut novel is quite possibly the most endearing mail-order bride story I’ve had the privilege to read. I was completely engaged by this novel, the intriguing dialogue, the vulnerability of Everett and Julia, and their tender journey towards love and healing, emotionally and spiritually. Melissa’s prose is lovely and her characterisation engaging, and while it isn’t the most perfectly written story ~ Julia vacillates a little too often between stubborn independence and helplessness, and Everett is a little too perfect when it comes to agreeing to Julia’s demands ~ I adored the tone, the tender moments, and the hearts of these wounded souls. A Bride to Keep is a very bright beginning to Melissa’s writing career and I will eagerly await her next fiction foray!
With thanks to Bethany House for my review copy