Tuesday, February 2, 2010

Review: A Bride Most Begrudging by Deeanne Gist

Genre: Christian Historical Romance
Pages: 347
Date Published: July 2005
Publisher: Bethany House
Source: I acquired this book through BookMooch.
Rating: 3.5 of 5 stars

Book Summary:
Any ship arriving from England means good news for Virginia colony farmers. The "tobacco brides" will be on board--eligible women seeking a better life in America, bartered for with barrels of tobacco from the fields.

Drew O'Connor isn't stirred by news of a ship full of brides. Still broken-hearted from the loss of his beloved, he only wants a maid to tend his house and care for his young sister.

What he ends up with is a wife--a feisty red head who claims she is of noble birth, brought to America against her will. She constantly demands to be treated like an equal. She fails at even the simplest housekeeping.

Headstrong and intelligent, tempestuous but captivating, deeply moral but incredibly enticing, Constance turns what was supposed to be a marriage of convenience into something most inconvenient, indeed.

A Bride Most Begrudging by Deeanne Gist is a Christian Historical Romance novel set in colonial Virginia of 1643. Ms. Gist has done a very fine job bringing the time period to life. In the 1600s, Virginia was a tough place to live--people lived difficult lives, shortened by disease. Families were often small, and parents often did not live to meet their grandchildren. What was a bit more difficult for me in the historical background of this novel, however, was the portrayal of tobacco brides and the assumption that women did not come to Virginia as servants as well. Women did come to the colony as indentured servants (though in small numbers), and there were instances when their indenture contracts were extended as a penalty for becoming pregnant while still a servant. Knowing this, I had a hard time accepting the part of the storyline that had the officials of the colony insisting that Drew marry Constance because it was improper for him, an unmarried man, to have an unmarried woman living at his plantation. But perhaps there was a law or regulation that I'm not aware of in Virginia in 1643 that backs up this portrayal.

I did enjoy the storyline and the romance that developed between Constance and Drew, even if Constance was a bit modern for her day. She was stubborn, fierce, and smart--another one of those strong woman characters that I enjoy. Though many of her abilities and inabilities seem a bit modern, they are also based on her upbringing as an upper-class lady--she was given the opportunity to be educated, she did not have to learn many skills in how to run a household, etc. The two are fortunate that Drew had already purchased a servant to handle the cooking, cleaning, caring for Drew's younger sister, and other various female duties on the farm, because Constance did not know how to do any of it.

Drew was an interesting character. For a long time in the novel he was determined to not care about Constance and tried his hardest to shut her out of his heart. His fear of loss, based on all of the losses he had experienced in his lifetime, held him back. But eventually he overcame his fear with the help of God and let her in. But then he decided (without Constance's input) that she wasn't happy in Virginia and that she needed to return to England. Meanwhile she was trying desperately to become better at the chores, thinking he was unhappy with her dismal abilities in that area, and fearing he would send her back because she was not useful enough. But neither of them would express these feelings to each other and they just floundered around, trying to do what they thought the other wanted them to do. This kind of miscommunication in romances always irritates me. I was very glad when they finally aired their feelings to each other and patched things up.

This was my first Deeanne Gist book and it was an enjoyable read, a lovely romance set in a fascinating time period. There were some suspenseful aspects to the story, and their relationship was filled with passionate feelings without being too specific or graphic. Overall I liked it, even with my reservations about the historical background and the frustrating actions of the couple. I'll definitely be giving another of her books a try.

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