About the Book:
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?
While a perfectly reasonable book for whittling away an afternoon I found A Reluctant Bride to be a rather middle of the road novel. Though it was based on a true story I just didn’t find enough in the story to make it feel entirely believable to me and it seemed heavier on the romance than it was on the history. I’ve read a number of books by Jody Hedlund, but I just didn’t find The Reluctant Bride measured up to my expectations. I couldn’t quite come to terms with Joseph being titled and making the choices that he made, even with him originally being a second son and his unusual upbringing. I also had to look up facts about telegraphs to England from the territories at one point in the book, because the dates didn’t seem to correspond with the ability to send a trans-Atlantic message and expect to hear back in under a week. These little details are important to me, however, someone else might just slide over them without becoming distracted from the plot.
On the positive side, the author paints a realistic picture of life in the London slums. There is no sugar coating here. The fact that Mercy remained compassionate and self sacrificing in her surroundings makes her an exceptional character.
Overall, it was a nice romantic story, but I’d call it light entertainment rather than a riveting novel.
I was given a free digital copy of this book in exchange for my honest opinion.