Review: A Bride’s Agreement, 5 Romances Grow Out of Convenient Marriages

abridesagreement_barbourThanks to a Lonely Heart by Elaine Bonner

A Bride’s Sweet Surprise in Sauers, Indiana by Ramona K. Cecil

Sonoran Secret by Nancy J. Farrier

Love’s Shining Hope by JoAnn A. Grote

Kiowa Husband by DiAnn Mills

Emily Johnson is a 30 year old widow, working as a waitress in a cafe, when a long time customer offers her a new job.  Travel to East Texas to care for the five children Steven Barnes had left behind with his recently deceased wife.  For the sake of propriety, she will need to marry him.  Stories that don’t match up, resentment and suspicion greet Steven Barnes and his convenient bride.

Regina Seitz, the youngest daughter of German immigrant farmers, is pining for the miller’s son.  Diedrich Rothhous wants to avoid military conscription in Germany.  Regina’s father pays for Diedrich to come from Hanover, along with his father, to marry Regina and work on the farm.  Diedrich’s dreams of joining the Gold Rush, family secrets, jealousy and greed quickly come to light.

Eduardo Villegas is a rich but lonely ranchero.  To satisfy a debt, he agrees to accept Diego Garcia’s daughter as his wife.  He desires the voluptuous eldest daughter, but finds himself married to the mute Fealdad (ugliness) instead.  Eduardo renames her Chiquita and discovers that she has been abused for most of her life and that someone now wants her dead.

Pearl Wells has been secretly in love with her friend Jason for years. To help care for his younger siblings and preserve her reputation, they enter into a “friendly marriage” complicated by jealousy, misunderstandings and a snowstorm.

The wagon train leaves 17 year old Sarah Jane Benson behind on the Oregon trail to care for her parents after they fall ill.  When the wagon train scout, Painted Hands, volunteers to stay and help care for Sarah’s parents, the leaders of the train decide a marriage must take place for propriety’s sake.  Sarah faces typhoid, distrust, and a husband who was raised by the Kiowa, rumored to have committed atrocities and intending to divorce her in Oregon.

Barbour Books generally does a great job with these short story and novella collections of Inspirational Historical Romances.  Usually there is a story or two that is a bit weaker than the rest, but overall I enjoy them.  This is my first experience with a general feeling of disappointment in an entire collection.  In some, it was stilted writing, a story that dragged, was overly complicated or predictable.  While two of the stories did stand out above the others, they were still a bit disappointing in execution of the reason I wanted to read this collection in the first place.  I was looking forward to reading stories with a bit more ethnic diversity, but found in one case that it was mostly apparent only in the names and in the other case that it was only part of a character’s background.

While I can’t recommend this particular collection, I won’t discourage anyone from reading it if it sounds interesting to them.  The reaction of another reader will not necessarily be the same as mine, and I hope that those who will enjoy these stories do get a chance to read them.  There are some good things to glean, such as in Sonoran Secret, where Eduardo reads the bible to Chiquita, and works to control his temper and develop patience and understanding.

This review refers to a review ebook read courtesy of the publisher via NetGalley, in exchange for an honest review.

A Bride’s Agreement, various authors | Barbour Books, Oct 1, 2015 | review ebook