I didn’t know I was thirsting for this type of novel until I glutted myself on it. The story itself is an inspirational set in America during the Civil War aftermath. I picked it up and read and read and read. It’s sweet and chaste, with both leads good God fearing people, which I found refreshing and charming. Deeanne Gist is a master weaver of storytelling, effortlessly combining fact and fiction into one cohesive whole.
The premise of the book truly is based on fact, which is really cool. Obviously the writer exercised creative license with her research but a good amount of that research appeared in some manifestation in the book. Clippings from newspapers, edited and/or condensed, are sprinkled throughout the novel and help set the mood. The letter to the heroine from her father was inspired by a similar missive one man sent his daughter. And so forth…
It does not talk down to you and doesn’t hold any ulterior religious agenda. Yes, both leads are Christian and quote the Bible, but neither they nor the author try to persuade the reader into Christianity or a particular sect of Christianity. There are only two churches and they’re named after the color of their paint. You shouldn’t shy from this book because of the fact it’s inspirational. I have limited experience in inspirational romance, but that will change because of this novel and Deeanne’s expert handling. I plan to get all of her published works from the library and glom on them.
When you open the book you are transported to 1860s Seattle (part of the Washington Territory at that time). Joseph Denton is a lumberjack whose land claim is in jeopardy because his wife died and never showed up in the Territory. It wouldn’t be an issue, except he’s being sued by a man he fired.
The judge through marriage is related to this man and while having a bias is pretty fair-minded toward Joe. He gives Joe a year to get a new wife or hand over his wife’s death certificate. Against his better judgment, Joe takes part of Asa Shinn Mercer’s bride importation project for the Territory. He would go East to get war widows and orphans and bring them back to the Pacific Northwest.
Anna Ivey, one of Mercer’s Girls, desires to be a cook and not a bride. When Mercer gives her a certificate for passage it’s with the understanding that her future employer would settle the debt and she would work it off. Needless to say Joe is not happy, but then it’s not Anna’s problem. Her paperwork from Mercer is different from Joe’s.
The judge is not happy but he gives Joe an extension. Joe is fortunate enough to have another choice, but the woman is old enough to be his grandmother and she hasn’t any teeth and refuses to wed until she gets them!
So Joe brings Anna back where she starts to cook for him and his men. Not even a week passes before news comes that his elderly betrothed’s husband is not dead, but very much alive and coming to claim his wife. That leaves Anna and Joe is more than happy to pursue her… but she can’t find out his intentions or about the returned husband until her answer to his proposal is yes.