A Bride for Keeps (A Bride for Keeps #1)
by Melissa Jagears (Goodreads Author)A Tender Tale of Love on the Prairie Perfect for CBA Readers
Although Everett Cline can hardly keep up with the demands of his homestead, he won't humiliate himself by looking for a helpmate ever again--not after being jilted by three mail-order brides. When a well-meaning neighbor goes behind his back to bring yet another mail-order bride to town, he has good reason to doubt it will work, especially after getting a glimpse at the woman in question. She's the prettiest woman he's ever seen, and it's just not possible she's there to marry a simple homesteader like him.
Julia Lockwood has never been anything more than a pretty pawn for her father or a business acquisition for her former fiance. Having finally worked up the courage to leave her life in Massachusetts, she's determined to find a place where people will value her for more than her looks. Having run out of all other options, Julia resorts to a mail-order marriage in far-away Kansas.
Everett is skeptical a cultured woman like Julia could be happy in a life on the plains, while Julia, deeply wounded by a past relationship, is skittish at the idea of marriage at all. When, despite their hesitations, they agree to a marriage in name only, neither one is prepared for the feelings that soon arise to complicate their arrangement. Can two people accustomed to keeping their distance let the barricades around their hearts down long enough to fall in love?
Ugh I cannot believe I waited so long for this book. It seemed so promising- a pretty cover and a different spin on a mail order plot line. But the characters really lack depth. Just like the story line.
Julia, the supermodel from 1876, struggles with being so drop dead gorgeous; her beauty is so intense that no one can think about anything else, including herself. She pretty much goes cycles through feelings of shame (crimes committed against her because of her beauty), guilt (because apart from her beauty she's useless), resentment ("i'm more than just a pretty face!"), hopelessness ("I'm nothing but a pretty face!"), and suspicion ("are you thinking about my looks?"). Sound a bit repetitive? Oh you have no idea.
Let's add in a second POV from her intended who spends 80% of his time obsessing about her beauty/pretty face (of the "I have nothing to offer her; she's too beautiful" & "I must have her now" variety.) and 20% of his time obsessing about his previous mail order (+ 1) failures.
The two characters go back and forth so much that I have whiplash.
And the conflicts were as extreme as you can get: *spoilers* being jilted no less than 5 times for pretty weak reasons, rape, attempted rape, 12 miscarriages/still births, and a fall off the roof leading to a mangled leg, fever, and brush with both amputation and death. Just to name a few.
If you secretly harbor a wish that your beauty was so all consuming that it was a constant source of conflict with everyone around you, and you'd like to experience it vicariously through a shallow, vain fictional character, then this is the book for you.