Desperate to keep the ranch where three of her children and a husband lie buried, Annie Gephart must marry or sell. Which of the few bachelors in town would consider a surprise proposal to wed a plain widow with a rebellious daughter, a spirited boy, and unpaid taxes–without laughing in her face?
Jacob Hendrix has never fully let go of his ranching dreams despite ending up as a small Wyoming town’s marshal. The job wouldn’t be so bad, except he’s more errand boy than lawman. When Annie proposes marriage without a single coquettish bat of an eyelash, can he commit himself to a woman he hardly knows for a choice piece of property he’d be an idiot to pass up?
But taxes aren’t all that threaten Annie and Jacob’s plans. Cattle rustlers, crumbling friendships, and wayward children make this marriage of convenience anything but. When they lose what they’ve sacrificed everything to save, will the love of a stranger be enough?
Welcome to my last Book Review blog post of 2018! It has been a wonderful year of books and this last one has been a deeply satisfying one to end on!
Melissa Jagears’ Romancing the Bride is quite a book! The marriage of convenience storyline is one that’s been told many times, but I feel like this is one of the most realistic portrayals of such a situation that I have read. From the start of the idea all the way to the decision to follow through, I felt like both Annie and Jacob actually thought through what they were getting into and did not make the decision lightly or without due consideration, which is not something I can say for a lot of marriage of convenience books. Often that part of the book is rushed through or glossed over. I appreciated being privy to that aspect of the story.
The struggles they face as a married couple, and one that doesn’t even really know each other at that, are not downplayed. We are given insight into both Annie’s and Jacob’s thoughts, struggles, and feelings that make it all so real. Their story is filled with moments where I so deeply felt their struggles and pain that I cried with them, moments where my heart hurt deeply for them and the circumstances and sorrow they had to endure.
Jacob is such a considerate, loving, patient, and steadfast character, yet he is not a perfect character by any means. He has his own battles to fight, and I love how he chooses to fight them and that he stays true to who he is called to be, even when he feels frustration, even when he’s in the midst of those battles.
Annie has been through so much and it’s not hard to wonder just how much more can she endure. Her pain is real, her struggle is real, the battle going on in her head is real. All of which made each step of her journey out of darkness and grief so precious and so good to see. I loved that her journey was a process, that it took place over the course of the book, that it wasn’t necessarily tied up in one big moment of change. It felt so much more like real life that way.
Jacob and Annie’s story is one with a bit of both falling in love and choosing to love, and I loved that. Love, marriage goes beyond the falling part. Though that’s a wonderful part of it, there’s also the choosing part—choosing to love even when it doesn’t feel like it’s returned, choosing to love even when that person is going through a struggle that makes them seem different than the person you fell for, choosing to continue to love even in the struggles and circumstances of life. And I love that Ms. Jagears so clearly displayed that aspect of marriage in this book.
Ms. Jagears also does a wonderful job of showing the consequences of what our actions can bring about, but not in a way that is without hope. With some of the supporting characters, I found the ending to be somewhat bittersweet—with a bit of sadness as they are facing the ramifications of their actions and the resulting heartache and strife, but also with hope for how they may grow and change in it. And as for Jacob and Annie, their heart-wrenching hurts and trials only made the “ending” of their story that much more joyful, hopeful, and satisfying. I am excited to see who else’s stories will be told in the future in this series and I’m ready to go on their journeys with them.
P.S.: If you go to Ms. Jagears’ website, you can read the first chapter of Romancing the Bride!
**I received a copy of this novel from the author. All opinions are my own.