The Runaway Bride (The Bride Ships, # 2)
By: Jody Hedlund
Expected Publication: March 3rd 2020 by Bethany House Publishers
Genre: Historical Fiction, Christian Fiction
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Goodreads description--Wealthy Arabella Lawrence flees to British Columbia on a bride ship still wearing the scars of past mistakes. One of the few single women in the boomtown, she immediately has suitors, but she is determined not to find herself trapped again by a poor choice.
Vying for her hand are two very different men. Lieutenant Richard Drummond is a gentleman in the Navy and is held in high esteem. Peter Kelly is the town's baker and has worked hard to build a thriving business. He and Drummond not only compete for Arabella's affections, but clash over their views of how the natives should be treated in the midst of a smallpox outbreak.
As Arabella begins to overcome her fears, she discovers someone in dire need—a starving girl abandoned by her tribe. Intent on helping the girl, Arabella leans on Peter's advice and guidance. Will she have the wisdom to make the right decision or will seeking what's right cost both her and Peter everything?
I liked Arabella from the brief amount we see her in The Reluctant Bride. Her story isn't fully exposed in the first book, but you know that someone has abused her which has caused her to run away. Yet I was hesitant to continue this series. Even though I liked The Reluctant Bride, the book wasn't what I would call romance-driven--which is my favorite type of read. However, this was definitely not an issue for The Runaway Bride.
Thankfully we don't follow the journey from England to Victoria in this book. Instead, The Runaway Bride picks up with the ship's arrival in Victoria. Arabella is immediately introduced to Lt. Drummond and then very shortly after introduced to Peter. Both set their sights upon her immediately upon introduction.
Before I even talk about Arabella, I have to express my absolute adoration for Peter Kelly's character. He can come off as really arrogant, but I think it's obvious that even as he's bragging about himself he's also making fun of himself at the same time. At least that's how it felt to me. He is confident for the most part. He's compassionate. I love how he had a past even though we don't get a ton of details about the actual events, I felt we were told enough for him to feel complex and well-rounded. He has a history with Drummond so even though he would pursue Arabella whether Drummond was interested in her or not, their competition over every detail was both comical and at times realistic.
Arabella has to work through what she wants from her new life. She fled her home because she was being married off to a cruel man. So now that she's gotten away, she's trying to be extra careful with deciding who she will marry or if she has to marry at all. There were times when I didn't agree with or understand Arabella's decisions or thought process at all. But mostly she was easy to like and root for.
I very much appreciated the physical struggles Pete and Arabella had with trying to keep their relationship within the proper bounds. Pete has a history with women before he turned his life over to God so it makes sense that keeping things proper would be a greater temptation to him than perhaps others. Arabella was a little more of a struggle to me in this area. Only because I tend to get discouraged with people who pursue paths they know they shouldn't. Even though she didn't exceed any boundaries set by our current society's rules (shoot there's not much off-limits according to today's society), she did continually step outside of the bounds of propriety according to the cultural rules of the time. I couldn't fault her too much because when one has been without affection for so long, the craving is certainly hard to ignore and turn away once one has gotten a taste.
-He was everything she'd ever needed but hadn't known until now. He treated her fairly without the condescension that many men used with women. He gave her opportunities to try new things, challenged her to do more than she believed she could, expected her to admit her mistakes, and allowed her to be herself without pretense.
-If God allowed those men [Job, Paul, etc] to face trials and tribulations, what made Pete think his life would be any different?
-...he could trust that God wasn't as concerned about giving him a happy life as He was about developing a holy heart.
While I did appreciate that there was a little steam to this (even though nothing inappropriate), I also loved the relationship building. The things that drew the characters to each other. Jody Hedlund did a great job with this story and these characters. Pete reminds me (some) of my husband which I loved. And I can't wait to continue the series. Although, I imagine it might be a little less steamy since Pastor Abe is the main male character. The Runaway Bride gets 4 Stars. Have you read The Runaway Bride? What did you think? Let me know!