A Reluctant Bride

Pub Date:   |   Archive Date: 04 Jul 2019

Member Reviews

Based off true events, author Jody Hedlund brings to life the tale of a woman one a bride ship.  This story beings to life the hardships, heartaches, and losses of life and losing one’s family.  It’s also about finding the strength to help those around, even when it’s not the most popular thing to do, especially when getting in trouble for it.  This story is about courage, discovering friendship and even a forbidden love in the least likely place.  Hedlund brings to life the story aboard the ship in vivid well-researched details that readers of historical fiction will thrive on.  A story of an incredible journey, readers will be absolutely delighted with this first book in a new series from Hedlund.
Series: Bride Ships
Genre: historical, romance
Publisher: Bethany House
Publication date: June 4, 2019
Number of pages: 352
Other books in the series:
2-The Runaway Bride (coming 2020)
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I love how Jody Hedlund chooses to highlight lesser-known historical events in her novels. A Reluctant Bride is about the bride ship Tynemouth that took women to British Columbia to find work and, hopefully, become brides. I'd never heard of the bride ships before, but apparently several went from England to British Columbia in the 1860s.

Eager to escape a desperate situation in London and at the urging of her sister, Mercy signs up to take the Tynemouth to a new life in British Columbia. What she doesn't realize until she's on board is that the women aren't just going to find jobs—they're going to find husbands. After witnessing her mother's many relationships, Mercy has no desire to ever marry ... but Joseph, the ship's doctor whose station is far above Mercy's own, may just change her mind.

I loved every single thing about this novel! The history (fascinating), the romance (swoony), the life lessons (applicable today)—everything was wonderful! I especially loved Mercy's determination to do the right thing, even when it came at a high cost. And I thought Joseph made a great hero—not perfect by any means, but seeking to follow God. And the two of them together? Wonderful.

If you're a fan of historical romance, you can't do any better than a Jody Hedlund novel, and this one easily ranks up there with her best.
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I really, really loved this book. Mercy did not know she was boarding a bride ship, but that is exactly what it was. This is a time period and circumstances that I have not read about before and I loved seeing this all from Mercy's eyes. She really has a goal and that goal is to make a life for herself where she can live with her sister away from the poverty of London they grew up in. The story takes place in London, on a ship, and then on Victoria Island. I really, really liked this book. I have come to realize that I will likely enjoy whatever Jody Hedlund writes.
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This was a fun historical fiction read.
A storyline that was relatively new to me, the bride ships.
I enjoyed reading about Mercy Wilkins and seeing her life. Prior to sailing on the ship, she came from the slums of London. She's never seen or known any other life, and really had no idea of how other people live in other parts of the country, or even the world.
Mercy was a hard, and willing worker, in spite of her limited education.
I loved seeing how she made the best of her situation, and rose to the challenges that faced her.
The romance in this story was also very sweet, if maybe a bit predictable.
If you enjoy historical fiction, I think you'll enjoy this book! 
Disclaimer: I receive complimentary books from various sources, including, publishers, publicists, authors, and/or NetGalley. I am not required to write a positive review, and have not received any compensation. The opinions shared here are my own entirely.  I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s 16 CFR, Part 255
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I recently finished reading A Reluctant Bride by Jody Hedlund. This was a fabulous book!! It’s probably my favorite book that I’ve read this year! 

Mercy Wilkins grew up and still lives in one of London’s poorest slums. Her mother continues to have child after child, and the family is so destitute and hungry that Mercy realizes she will soon be kicked out of her home by her mother. Mercy’s older sister Patience is already in the workhouse, a place almost worse than death itself. Patience urges Mercy to join a ship bound for British Columbia in the New World, so that she can start a new life away from the slums and most importantly avoid the notorious workhouse, where so many inmates end up dying. Patience promises Mercy that she will be on another ship which is scheduled to sail a few months later. She’s sick and thus cannot travel yet, until she gets her health back. 

So Mercy decides to join the ship (the Tynemouth), as she realizes this is her best chance at a new life. She had heard some rumors that it is a bride ship, but she quickly dismisses them. It’s not until she’s boarded the ship and bound for the Americas that she realizes that it is indeed a bride ship. Mercy has no intention of marrying and instead wants to seek employment in British Columbia.

The Tynemouth’s ship doctor is handsome young Joseph Coville, who just happens to be a British earl. He is very wealthy and has no need of the money he makes as the ship’s doctor. But he had lost his entire family to smallpox some years before, and felt called into medicine in order to help other people. It’s also a way for him to stay far away from England and the memories of his family. 

Sparks immediately start to fly between Mercy and Dr. Coville. Mercy, true to her name, loves to help people, and there is no small number of seasick and ill people aboard the Tynemouth. Mercy becomes Dr. Coville’s right-hand assistant, much to the dismay of the prospective brides’ chaperones who believe Mercy is trying to rise above her station as a poor woman and snag the handsome earl. 

The book is full of tales of the ship’s journey to British Columbia, and the subsequent mayhem as dozens of eligible brides arrive on shore in B.C. and the local men immediately start proposing and pursuing them.

I won’t say more, but this was a wonderful book! I didn’t want to put it down! One of the things I enjoyed the most is at the end, in the epilogue, the author explains that basically all the major events of the book ACTUALLY occurred in real life! Obviously, some dialogue / characters were fictional, but the key parts of the story were all true! That was so fascinating to me.

A Reluctant Bride is book #1 in The Bride Ships series. I can’t wait for the second book to come out!!

I highly, highly recommend this book! You won’t be disappointed!

I received a complimentary copy of this book from Bethany House (via Netgalley) for this review. I was not required to write a positive review. The opinions expressed are my own.
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Thank you to Bethany House for the free review copy. All opinions are my own.

First off, I loved the idea and inspiration behind this story. This is not a time in history that I know anything about, and I was fascinated with the idea of a bride ship. I also liked how the author used real events to help shape and tell this story. 

However, the characters just didn’t work for me at all. I found each of them to be awkward and they just didn’t seem to fit well together. I felt like the relationship was forced. I also wanted more resolution at the end of the book,
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I was drawn to The Reluctant Bride because of the reference to Canadian history. I knew of bride ships heading to Australia but unaware the west coast of Canada was also a destination. I knew that sea voyages across the Atlantic were wroth with danger but my mind has a hard time wrapping itself around a voyage of this magnitude, not just the time span but the perils of the sea and food supply makes me glad to be born when I was. It was portrayed vividly here.

While I was hoping for more history on Canadian soil the majority of this story takes place on the sea. Just like the titanic this ship is divided by class and gender. The author notes were great and I loved that much of this story is based on fact - like the Columbia Mission Society, certain characters and quite a number of events came from the history books.  The scenes in England vividly showed the reasoning why these girls made the journey.

Jody Hedlund is not a new author for me, she takes those seldom heard of bits in history and weaves some intriguing stories, her research is impeccable which shines through.

This is the first book in series with The Runaway Bride slated for a March 2020 release.

Book has been provided courtesy of Baker Publishing Group and Graf-Martin Communications, Inc. in exchange for an honest review.
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This is a fascinating historical fiction novel. The story was fun to read, but I considered it pretty solid fiction, but then I read the author's note at the end of the story and realized that the whole premise of the book was based on historical facts.

I try not to give spoilers in my review, but I also will read ahead to the author's note because I like to know what parts of the story are historically true and what parts are not. In this book, I didn't expect it to be based on history and so I didn't even look for the author's note. But here, in a nutshell, is the truth of the book. There really were bride ships that were sent from London to Vancouver and British Columbia. The Tynemouth was one of those ships and so many of the elements that made it a good story were rooted in history. This has just made this book so much better in my opinion. And finally, not to give a spoiler, but if you read the back cover you can guess how the story turned out, the ship's surgeon really did fall in love with one of the poor girls on the ship. 

Jody did a very good job of bringing to life the awfulness of London's slums. While I still can't imagine that level of dirt and filth that was part of Mercy's everyday life, it made me uncomfortable to think about. And yet, along with that, the beauty that was Mercy, bringing mercy to all she met and trying to make the world brighter and yet not even recognizing what she was doing. And then the journey she went on to recognize that she was a human being, made in God's image, and worthy of respect despite her poor upbringing.  

This book gives a lot of food for thought. It's another one of those books that makes me want to discuss it with someone else. Why do we, even today, still have social classes? We don't call them that, but, in truth, we can live like that sometimes. Why do we run from grief rather than embrace it? Why are we willing to be treated as less-than when we are a human being created in the image of God with equal worth to a rich person? 

I really enjoyed this book and now I want to read more of Jody's Bride Ship series. 

I received this book from Bethany House via NetGalley and was not required to write a positive review. All opinions expressed are my own.
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Historical fiction is one of my favorite genres and Ms. Hedlund has become one of my favorite authors of the genre.  This is the first book that I have read about Bride Ships and yes, I have read plenty of mail order bride stories but none like this.

The characters are endearing, especially Mercy the compassionate young woman who treats sick babies and children in less than a desirable part of London.  She has virtually nothing but her time and desire to tend to those in need.  I loved Joseph and the two of them together are pure perfection. 

The journey the characters embark upon is not just an actual physical one but a soul searching one as well.  I loved this book and think the entire series will be amazing.

I received a copy from the publisher through Netgalley.  The opinions expressed in this review are completely my own.
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The Bride Ships series is one to watch for my friends! Mercy and Joseph are so sweet, yet professional. Their attraction is so obvious, to pretty much everyone on the ship (hence the reason others tried to separate them), except to maybe themselves. Mercy is this sweet, empathetic heroine who puts others before herself each and every time. She wasn't worried about her own health or happiness, just those around her. Mercy is an inspiration to us all. But in a time period where different social classes simply didn't intermingle romantically, it seemed as if the odds were against them. Never fear....Hedlund is here!

The premise of this whole story was interesting to me. The Society herded unwed, young women onto this ship like cattle. It just sounds so demeaning, and a horrible way to live. I was waiting for the gentlemen in British Columbia to act like animals, and frankly they did. Many of these men were looking for someone to take care of them, among other things. I couldn't imagine being subject to that! But Mercy. She was so naive, and yet so stuck in her ways. She didn't need a man, she just needed a job. And while of course that changes after she spends more time with Joseph, we can certainly understand why. Joseph is respectful, swoony, and just downright charming. I was rooting for him from the get go :)

With a fun romance, an interesting plot line, and several inspirational quotes, this first book in the Bride Ships series is a sure win. I received a complimentary copy of this book. I was not required to write a favorable review. All thoughts and opinions are my own.
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I honestly wasn't sure what to expect when I started this book but I absolutely loved it! I was hooked from the first few pages. I really enjoyed the character of Mercy Wilkins, she's both relatable and inspiring. The history was also very interesting, how the prospective brides sailed across the ocean to meet who knows who on the other side in an entirely new land in the hopes of having a better life. It's hard to imagine that level of desperation. 

I enjoyed the characters of some of the other bride ship women, even the chaperone in charge of the women on the journey over who was very strict. 

I've enjoyed many of this author's books but I think this series may be my favourite yet. 

This book has been provided courtesy of Baker Publishing Group and Graf-Martin Communications, Inc. Available at your favourite bookseller from Bethany House, a division of Baker Publishing Group.
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This is book one in the Bride Ships series. This book is full of history, romance, heartache and more.

Mercy is a loving, kindhearted beautiful poor woman just trying to do her part. When she feels she has no choice but get away she is shocked to realize she is actually on a bride ship. The handsome titled Dr. Joseph is running from pain and finds he needs help from Mercy. The sparks really start to fly.

I loved the sparks, drama, history and characters in this book. Some characters you love and some not so much. I look forward to reading book two from this series.
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*Slow start. Took me a while to feel connected to the story and characters. Mercy's living situation had to be properly set up for the reader to feel her desperation. Joseph's backstory felt a little unexplored. We know he is grieving his family but how they died was barely mentioned and his past, while mentioned in passing, was just missing it felt like. Very few flashbacks or memories were included that could have enhanced the story.

*Too much description at times. I found myself skimming some passages occasionally. 

*I always have a hard time connecting to characters that are anti-marriage. I could understand where Mercy was coming from initially, but she fought the idea of marriage one grand gesture too many for me. But on the whole, I enjoyed Mercy and Joseph's story. 

*The Author's Note added a lot to my enjoyment. You know how sometimes discussing a thing is better than the actual thing? Well, I feel like that's the case here. Specifically, reading which parts were based upon actual events added to the story.

A Reluctant Bride was good but not a perfect read for me. Once I got past the beginning, I finished at a decent pace. I struggled with some sections with too much description. I appreciated how much of A Reluctant Bride was based off true events and people. A Reluctant Bride gets 3.5 Stars. Have you read A Reluctant Bride? What did you think? Let me know!
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This book was nothing short of amazing!!! Jody did not disappoint. Like always she uses words to paint a picture. I was swept up in the story. Mercy was such a relatable character. I could see where she was coming from! We all have insecurities and feel like we are never good enough! Joseph is what all women dream of! He was so caring and kind. I loved how they found God and deepened their trust in Him!
LOVED LOVED LOVED!!! Cannot wait for the next book in the series!!!
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A Reluctant Bride by Jody Hedlund

Rating: 4 out of 5 stars


Story Notes

Jody Hedlund presents a lovely story that tells of the “bride ships” that used to sail to the Americas carrying hopeful young women in search of a better life.

When one hears the words “bride ship” it can mean different things to different people. Some are horrified that anyone would sign up to become an unknown man’s bride, others are intrigued by the courage of these women to leave the disparaging known for a chance of better in the unknown. I think I am a little of both but lean more towards admiring these ladies’ courage as they strove to make a better life with the options they had. Jody Hedlund gives her readers a good glimpse into how the process works and the thoughts of some of the ladies who sailed these ships. Mercy Wilkins needs to find a way to relieve the burden she is to her family but short of becoming a factory or workhouse worker she has no options. Hearing of a missionary society that is looking for clean, respectable young women to go to the Americas, Mercy quickly makes her way to their buildings. She manages to snag the last place on a ship leaving in a few days and also places her sister’s name on the list for the next ship. Surely they could both find a new home and a new job in such a large country. But Mercy did not realize that there is more than just a job waiting for her when she disembarks. Finding herself one of 60 young women heading to Vancouver, Washington to find a spouse, Mercy is praying that she will instead have the chance to find a job for a while before she is required to marry. However, the accompanying Reverend Scott is determined to make sure she is married quickly after her arrival. This is due to his false belief that the ship’s surgeon should marry someone of his own standing, preferably one of the Reverend’s daughters. Dr. Joseph Colville has other ideas and has found his growing friendship with Mercy to be a bright spot in the harshness that accompanies many of his days. But Mercy is truly a “reluctant” bride and despite her growing attraction to Joseph, she doesn’t want to hand over her freedom to a possible taskmaster. As Mercy works alongside Joseph in caring for the sick on board ship, she will learn that not all men want to make women subversive to their desires. Her heart is taught a new kind of love, one that sacrifices for the person to which it’s directed. Joseph was looking for any way to leave his snobbish upbringing behind, even working in the lowest slums to do so. But he is not certain he wants to give up his freedom to remain in one place, hence his agreement to serve as ship’s surgeon. But as both God and Mercy tug on his mind and heart, he will discover that when God calls you to a place and people He will give you all the freedom you thought you lost and so much more. As they dock in Vancouver, Mercy will have to decide if she will let others tell her how to live her life or if she will stand on her own. Joseph will have to decide if he is going to follow the direction of God or if he will keep running the other direction. I really enjoyed the history and the personalities Ms. Hedlund included in this story. I could tell she strove to keep everything accurate to the time period while also giving a more personal account through the fictional characters. I loved the tension she created and the well developed finish that dissipated all the tension and questions that arose. The faith journey of the two main characters was good but I found it a little too pat in its development. I will certainly recommend this book to others as it gave such a good look at this part of history. I believe this is first in a series Ms. Hedlund will be doing on this subject and I hope that the successive book will be just as good or better.

I received this E-book free of charge from Bethany House Publisher’s in exchange for a fair and honest review. I will receive no fiscal compensation for this review and the opinions expressed herein are entirely my own.
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I received an ARC of this book from Bethany House Publisher via NetGalley, this review expresses my personal opinion.

The reluctant bride by Jody Hedlund
We first meet Mercy, the descriptions of the slums are so sad, the death, the pain the sorrow. How there was not a chance to really live, but only to barely survive. She was trying to find honest work and there are no options. Jody Hedlund goes deeper into an unknown world and the way she describes it sound so realistic. And then we have Joseph Colville, Lord Colville he is a Doctor he has no family left, but an old maid aunt. He feels restless and I found interesting his struggle and that he doesn’t know what to do with his call. On page 12 Dr. Bates ask him a really important question. “ What’s the small part God is calling you to do? Are you seeking His leading or running away from it?” 
Mercy truly believes she had been abandoned by God and then something unexpected happens, her mom is let go from the factory she has been working and without that income. Somehow Mercy hears a small voice that say that she is a burden. Her sister Patience has been in the workhouse in order to keep her safe to married for necessity, and so she remembers about the Columbia Society and the opportunity ongoing to work on the Vancouver Island and British Columbia, she says that are looking for young and able women for a different type of jobs. And so, she makes Mercy promise her that she will take that chance. 
This was one my favorite quotes of the book from page 36 “I want you to remember that when we’re troubled on every side, Patience says her voice wavering” We can’t get caught up in seeing the problems from our views God is so much bigger and He has thing work out His way-ways we can’t begin to understand”
Mercy has no intention of marrying, due to the reality she lives since she was a child and what she doesn't know it is that the ship she going is actually a ship with single women with the intention of marrying the man of the Vancouver Island and the British Columbia, she needs to find a way to be free from that commitment. 
To make things even more interesting we have Joseph as Doctor in the same ship, The Tynemouth several people got sick during the journey and since she has experienced it is the best person to act as his assistant. From this moment I like how the characters are developed and the slow transition from strangers to friends. Jody Hedlund really takes her time and there a well balance situation from this point on, we have two characters one that came from the slums, extreme poverty and the other one that came from a wealthy background. 
I like this quote, especially for the situation that happens between Mercy and Joseph, even with their friendship. Page 118 “ Maybe we are all like ships, she finally offered “When we're born we’re put on the seeland we can’t always control our destiny or destination. We only have to ride in the journey the best we can” 
We can see how Mercy change and finally accept that he value is not for what she has of what she does and the same goes with Joseph we see he decided to stop running and face his pain. This book has so many layers, you have to take time to read it and to let God speak to your heart. Jody Hedlund once again did a wonderful job with a great historical background, filled with good characters, vivid descriptions, faith and a beautiful I can’t wait to read the next book of this series. 
Truly grateful for Bethany House Publisher for the ARC of this book.
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Les Miserables meets the high seas in Jody Hedlund’s A Reluctant Bride, the story of a woman from the slums who finds her worth on the bounding main.

Mercy Wilkins lives in one of London’s poorest slums.  Barely able to keep shoes on her feet, she nonetheless sacrifices all she can to help the neighborhood’s children and her own family survive.  Mercy’s sister, Patience, is slaving away in a workhouse and Mercy has been searching hard for a job that won’t force her to compromise her virtue while allowing her to support their numerous younger siblings and their mother, Twiggy.  Determined to save her ten-year-old brother from work on the docks when Twiggy loses her job, Mercy goes to the Columbia Mission Society at Patience’s suggestion.  There, healthy women with good reputations are being recommended for a ship that will deliver them to Vancouver and British Columbia, where there are jobs aplenty.

Mercy is nearly turned away, but a miraculous opening secures her a position not on a boat for domestics, but a bride ship named the Tynemouth that will provide women to lonely men in the mountains of Canada. If Mercy behaves well, the seriously sick Patience will be promoted for a journey to Canada on the next ship out.

During the voyage, Mercy’s amateur nursing talents soon become a help to Lord (and Doctor) Joseph Colville, a man she met when they tried to help one of her young neighbors while he served as a substitute physician at the local dispensary.  Mercy knows keeping her reputation virtuous is the only way she can secure a husband in Canada, but she cannot stop herself from doing what’s right and ministering to the women and men aboard at Joseph’s side, which sometimes requires her to be improperly alone with him.  As the journey goes more dangerous and they rely upon one another to care for the sailors and wannabe brides on the ship, Joseph draws closer to Mercy.  But she could never become Lady Colville and hobnob among the social upper strata, could she?

A Reluctant Bride is part story of romantic yearning, part philosophical story of religious faith complicated by the imperfections of human existence, and part story of blood-and-guts medical drama.  You’re not going to make it through this book if you have a weak stomach; there’s a lot of puking, a lot of boils, and a lot of burning, scarlet-cheeked fevers.

This vividness goes a long way to making the time period spring to life.  So does A Reluctant Bride’s chronicle of life aboard ship.  Kudos to Hedlund for fantastic research; you can feel the pitch and roll of the deck under your feet and smell the sea air as you read.

The morality quagmire that faces both Joseph and Mercy is a simple one – society versus the will of God.  The book provides an excellent examination of how the contemporary interpretation of propriety could get between proper medical care and a woman in the 1800s – and between her hope of a woman’s improvement in life and the hell of being labeled a slattern. Joseph only wants the best for Mercy, and Mercy only wants to do the proper thing; they’re two good people who ache to kiss and touch one another but cannot do it for fear of ruining Mercy’s life, and, in Joseph’s case, promising much more than he can offer.

Both of them are sympathetic, if a bit too self-sacrificing – there is a major caveat in that they can be doormat-ish almost to a fault when it comes to other people; some may find them too wimpy, but their trip toward self-actualization worked very well for me.  They manage to shake out of their self-denying torpor eventually, but for a while you may want to shake them.

I only have one other problem with A Reluctant Bride; I didn’t find the conclusion to Patience’s story satisfying at all – no matter how realistic it was  -  and I hope it will be revisited in the next volume in a happier manner.

Otherwise, this is a vivid, well-researched story of two people who, with faith on their side, come to respect and care about one another while battling back the social mores and class strictures trying to pull them apart.  It’s a good story about good people, rocky parts and all.

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I enjoyed reading this book that tells the story of Joseph an aristocrat who is also a doctor and Mercy who is born into poverty and has lived through terrible times surrounded by poverty, squalor and illness. Yet despite it all Mercy has a sweet spirit and has a kind soul. In a bid to find a better life Mercy has joined a bride ship, the only problem is that Mercy did not realize what kind of a ship it was. And Joseph who is the ship's doctor finds himself inexplicably drawn to her despite his best intention. But there are people who will stand in the way of the growing attraction between them. 

A lovely story. Does a good job of transporting one to a time when ships sailed for new lands bearing potential brides. Loved the characters. Looked forward to learning more about what happened to Miss Lawrence whom Mercy met on the ship and who obviously had some secrets in her past that was not revealed. I don't know if this is a going to be a series but if it is I'd really love to read the other books in the series.

Heartily recommend this.
Thanks to Bethany house and Netgalley for this book. This is my honest review.
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I found A Reluctant Bride by Jody Hedlund to be a story that kept me reading.  It had twists and turns and wasn’t your typical story.  The premise of the women traveling west and the reason to travel was to become brides to the men of Canada.  The main lady, Mercy, travels at the last minute not knowing the criteria to marry, and having had a past of not being so much in favor of marriage, finds herself in quite a predicament.  There’s a doctor, Joseph, who is of high class station aboard and love soars.  I just loved it.  Another great one by Jody Hedlund!
I received a copy of this book in exchange for my honest review.

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What an amazing book! So many things I could say that touched me! How real is it today that we are still fighting people who decide your station in life? That you can't marry beneath you... not even for love! Jody Hedlund has taken historical facts and weaved a story that is so moving!

Two of my favorite quotes from the book! 
"Patience always said that we might be troubled on every side, but God's still there working things out in His way. And God's way is something we can't always see or make sense of."

"Don't get stuck, Mercy. Don't get stuck thinking you don't matter or you're not important enough. I know for people like us who come from lowly backgrounds, we all to often accept our place at the bottom and think that's where we belong. But that's just not true. God didn't create some people to be better than others. He created everyone to have equal value."

Don't miss out on this series! 

I received a complimentary copy of this book from NetGalley on behalf of the Publisher and was under no obligation to post a favorable review.
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