Thursday, September 18, 2014

A Bride in Store

Eliza Cantrell was done with emotional reasoning.

It had cost her far too much, her livelihood, her inheritance, her heart, and her dreams of running a business.

So, when Eliza receives a business offer of marriage and a store, the smart decision seemed to lay before her. However, Eliza wasn't counting on her intended's business partner, shady alliances, or the gentle call of her faith pulling at her healing heart.

This was my fist foray into a Melissa Jagears novel, and overall I really enjoyed the ride. There's always been something about period stories that feels like coming home and with Ms. Jagears characters such as Eliza, Mrs. Lightfoot, Will, and the Stantons A Bride in Store felt like reuniting with friends you've yet to meet.

I enjoyed walking alongside the characters as each fleshed out the realities of life. Mrs. Lightfoots isolation, Will's seeming loss of his dream, Eliza's journey to find her direction. Each seemed real and honest in their own way as well as completely believable scenerios for someone to encounter. I'm not a fan of unlikely scenarios in a realistic setting and Ms. Jagears doesn't disappoint.

I was also intrigued at the books attempt to bring light to epidermolysis bullosa. Though lightly touched upon, the fact that the author used her platform to bring light to an often overlooked and potentially devastating condition was an encouragement to myself fighting my own rare condition. The world needs more authors who are willing to bring awareness to matters without voices.

My one misgiving with A Bride in Store comes from the internal monologues, particularly surrounding Eliza and Will. Though Eliza spends most of the novel attempting to be seen for her intelligence, business sense, and forthrightness, it is often noted how plain, dowdy, and unattractive Eliza is due mostly, it would seem from later chapters, to her fashion choices. This mentality, especially given the lovely young woman on the front cover, seemed unnecessary and reinforcing of many negative stereotypes young woman wrestle with each day. The fact that many of the reflections came from Will who claimed to be infatuated with Eliza despite her unattractiveness rubbed even more harshly.

I enjoyed A Bride in Store.  I stayed up late reading to see how the plot resolved, I enjoyed the characters, the setting, and the faith elements that felt so natural in a genre where they often feel forced. However, the issues of body image and attractiveness relegate this book to a 4 out of 5 stars.

I received this book from Bethany House in exchange for my honest opinion.

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