Romancing the Bride (2018)

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Romancing the Bride (2018) by Melissa Jagears is the first book in her Frontier Vows series. This book comes in all forms including eBook, and is 415 pages in length. With a full-time job and a very lively six-year old at home, this book took me two days to read. I purchased a copy of this novel in eBook form from Amazon on October 24, 2018 to review. In no way has this influenced my review. The opinions expressed in this review are my own. I give Romancing the Bride 4.5 STARS. This book is a Christian Historical Romance.

About the Book

Marrying a stranger to save a ranch is one thing; losing the land on their wedding day is another. 

Desperate to keep the ranch where three of her children and a husband lie buried, Annie Gephart must marry or sell. Which of the few bachelors in town would consider a surprise proposal to wed a plain widow with a rebellious daughter, a spirited boy, and unpaid taxes—without laughing in her face? 

Jacob Hendrix has never fully let go of his ranching dreams despite ending up as a small Wyoming town’s marshal. The job wouldn’t be so bad, except he’s more errand boy than lawman. When Annie proposes marriage without a single coquettish bat of an eyelash, can he commit himself to a woman he hardly knows for a choice piece of property he’d be an idiot to pass up? 

But taxes aren’t all that threaten Annie and Jacob’s plans. Cattle rustlers, crumbling friendships, and wayward children make this marriage of convenience anything but. When they lose what they’ve sacrificed everything to save, will the love of a stranger be enough? 

Romancing the Bride is the first book in the Frontier Vows Series by award-winning Christian romance author Melissa Jagears. If you like heartwarming marriage-of-convenience stories, you’ll love this sweet romance filled with endearing characters.

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My Thoughts

Romancing the Bride by Melissa Jagears is a thoroughly enjoyable Christian Western. This novel has it all: a widowed rancher’s wife with two kids who will do anything to keep her home, a city Marshal tired of his job kowtowing to the local Mayor, and a few creepy villains who sure did make this reader’s skin crawl. There’s a desperate marriage of convenience, an out-of-line teenage daughter bucking all the rules, a bit of mystery and intrigue, and a few smoldering kisses. If you love Westerns, Romancing the Bride is a page-turner you won’t want to miss.

Jacob Hendrix is a fantastic hero. My favorite characteristic is his patience. He does get frustrated by feelings that seem to be unrequited, but he has so much grace. Jacob constantly tries to see things from others’ perspectives. He never ever tries to force things, but rather he trusts that God will take care of things in His time. There were several moments in the story where I thought for sure Jacob would explode in frustration, but he doesn’t. Instead, he always goes to God. Jacob is a real fine example of Proverbs 3:5 — “Trust in the Lord with all your heart, and do not lean on your own understanding.” And, if that isn’t enough, he is incredibly hunky! There are quite a few moments where he turns on his “mischievous” smile and leaves Annie twitterpated, and me a little breathless!

I really appreciate Annie’s personal struggle in learning to love Jacob as he needs. I very much connected with Annie’s struggle, and I really resonated with Jagears’s discussion on Nature vs. Nurture. It’s exceptionally difficult to be an affectionate person when you are not raised to be one, but it’s not impossible. Annie’s mother was stone-cold strict. She raised Annie to care about appearances, to adhere to every dictate society decrees, and to suppress emotions. A proper woman must be proper at all times. Love and affection were NOT taught or illustrated in Annie’s home growing up. When Annie realizes that her new husband is an affectionate man, she really struggles to be the wife Jacob needs and wants. My own husband was raised in a caring, loving, and affectionate environment. My parents loved me as best they could, but love and affection were NOT their thing. Rigid rules and tough consequences were their go-to. Like Annie, I had no idea how to be a wife to a man who is 100% affectionate. Holding hands in public was enough to make me blush. But God changed me! Like Annie does in Romancing the Bride, I turned to God often in prayer begging God to make me the wife my husband needed, and He came through. It didn’t hurt at all that God blessed me with a patient man, just like Jacob is for Annie.

I also very much loved Jagears’s discussion about the past and the role it should play in our lives. At one point, Annie has a discussion with her daughter, Celia, who is struggling with choices she has made in her recent past. Celia is allowing her mistakes and failures to suck her into a shame spiral she can’t get out of. Annie, in an attempt to help her daughter out of her dark place, tells Celia, “If your past decisions didn’t get you where you wanted to be, figure out what decisions will. Beating yourself up over the past won’t change a thing.” I love this message that mistakes and moments in our past should be a tool we use to learn and grow from, they should not be used to make victims of ourselves. This is definitely a message that I feel is timely for today.

Romancing the Bride is a really good story that I highly recommend. If you love a Christian Western with action, romance, and timely themes, then this is definitely the book for you.

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