Living in London’s poorest slum, Mercy Wilkins has little hope of a better life. When she’s offered an opportunity to join a bride ship sailing to British Columbia, she agrees. After witnessing so much painful heartache and loss in the slums, the bride ship is her only prospect to escape a bleak future, not only for herself but, she hopes, someday for her sister.
Wealthy and titled Joseph Colville leaves home and takes to the sea in order to escape the pain of losing his family. As ship’s surgeon, he’s in charge of the passengers’ welfare aboard the Tynemouth, including sixty brides-to-be. He has no immediate intention of settling down, but when Mercy becomes his assistant, the two must fight against a forbidden love.
With hundreds of single men congregating on the shore eager to claim a bride from the Tynemouth, will Mercy and Joseph lose their chance at true love, or will they be able to overcome the obstacles that threaten to keep them apart?
If you are looking for a historically intriguing read about an event you may not know about or a romantically told tale that goes soul deep, look no farther than A Reluctant Bride. First off this story is about bride ships, one that took women from England to British Columbia in the hopes of becoming brides for the many single men there.
Author Hedlund shows the desperate situations that could lead to the fateful choices some of these women made to get on that bride ship. Focusing specifically on Mercy Wilkins story, we see the abject poverty she and her family lived in. The jobs her family must endure to pay rent and put a little bit of food on the table. The sacrifices that must be made with children and the lengths that their mother would go to just to survive. For Mercy, marriage was not a rescue, nor was working in the unhealthy conditions of the workhouse, or working the streets; none of these options were a way to a happy future or a long life. Battling circumstances beyond her control, Mercy becomes a passenger on this ship headed for a world unknown to her in hopes of a better life for her and eventually her beloved sister.
Joseph Colville the ship’s doctor is also running from his life in a different way. He is a man who is not only skilled as a doctor, but also has wealth and is a lord. However he is quite surprised at what cargo the ship is carrying and through the storms of the travel and the strict watchful eyes of the chaperones, he and Mercy form a friendship that soon begins an attraction to each other.
This story does not shy away from the details of the poor in London and shows their great desperation and the unbelievable difference and prejudice within the class distinctions. What Mercy and Joseph feel for each other is forbidden in their culture. And while they both know this, their romance blooms despite it all.
Mercy is a woman without many choices, not only just being poor but also being a poor woman. Joseph has an opportunity to make a difference; Mercy has a chance for a different life. What will each of them choose? Be sure to read the author's notes on the research of her story.
I received a copy of this novel from the publisher. I was not required to post a positive review and all views and opinions are my own.
About the Author:
Winner of the 2016 Christian Book Award and finalist for the Christy Awards, best-selling author Jody Hedlund writes inspirational historical romances for both youth and adults.
Jody lives in central Michigan with her husband, five busy children, and five spoiled cats. Although Jody prefers to experience daring and dangerous adventures through her characters rather than in real life, she’s learned that a calm existence is simply not meant to be (at least in this phase of her life!).
When she’s not penning another of her page-turning stories, she loves to spend her time reading, especially when it also involves consuming coffee and chocolate.
Connect with Jody Hedlund: https://jodyhedlund.com/