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?
Why This Book:
Having read and thoroughly enjoyed several of her previous books, I consider myself a fan of Jody Hedlund’s writing. 🙂
Immediately prior to reading The Runaway Bride, I read The Reluctant Bride, book one in The Bride Ships series. Arabella Lawrence, the heroine of The Runaway Bride (book 2) is not only introduced, but plays a significant role in The Reluctant Bride (book 1). So before even opening this novel, I had already fallen in love with Arabella as a character. I was happy to see that this novel essentially picks up from where we last saw her in book one. There is very little overlap in content/timeline, and what overlap there is, doesn’t feel like a repeat because the events are told from different perspectives. Although all the necessary information is there for a reader to enjoy this novel without having read book one, I would strongly recommend that readers read this particular series in order so that they get a fuller understanding of what Arabella went through to get to where she is in book two.
That said, this story grabbed and held my attention from the very first page. Not only did I already care about the heroine, but the plot was compelling and the hero! Well, I’ll get to him below.
Arabella Lawrence – This woman has lived through a nightmare and somehow managed to come out the other side still clinging to God and hope. Raised to completely embody the expected social norms and behaviors of the women in her social class during this era, it is completely understandable why she struggles with the significant social changes she faces in her new community, and why she resists the attraction she feels toward Peter Kelly. It also explains her interest in pursuing Lieutenant Drummond. In short, this character makes sense, is relatable, likable, flawed, and someone you want to read about.
Peter Kelly – A man with a troubled past, Peter has turned his life around but still carries the guilt of past mistakes. Not someone to stand by in the face of injustice, Peter suffers personal loss and faces serious danger in order to protect those who cannot protect themselves. And if that’s not enough, he’s generous, kind, humble, confident, and funny. His faith is real and his intentions are honorable. He may be rough around the edges from a social standpoint, but this man is definitely swoon-worthy!
Emotional Engagement & Pacing of the Story:
The pacing of this story was spot-on. There were no places where I was tempted to skim ahead (because I wanted to savor every word) and no places where I wanted to put it down. I think I’ve addressed most of the emotional engagement points I can without revealing spoilers. About all that I can add is that there are other characters whom you will meet and who will tug at your heartstrings. There were definitely moments when I choked up and others where I chuckled. And I may or may not have wanted to give a good shake (or two or three) to certain characters. So yeah, I was definitely emotionally engaged. 🙂
Elements I Especially Liked/Disliked:
As part of my own research for a novel I’ve written that is set in Southern California, I had actually read all about the smallpox outbreak in British Columbia that is referenced in The Runaway Bride. It was interesting to see how another author used the historical event to enrich her story. I can tell you (and I’m sure it will be no surprise) that Jody Hedlund did get her facts right. Although she uses some artistic license in her portrayal of the events connected to this real life tragedy, I think she did so marvelously, and she does acknowledge this in her author’s note at the end of the book.
The faith element in this novel is pervasive in that it is interwoven throughout the story from beginning to end. You could not separate this story from its faith element. However, it is not preachy nor overbearing. It is handled well and in a way that feels natural to both the story and the characters.
“Character is much more important than class.”
God uses personal pain as a bridge to reach others who were suffering.
Forgiveness takes the greatest courage of all.
We should look to God and not others for guidance.
Yes. Just YES! Absolutely loved it! Perfect. 🙂
The Runaway Bride
is an emotional journey of love, forgiveness, identity, and sacrifice. You won’t regret picking this one up! (Click to Tweet!
5 out of 5 stars
Psst! Feel free to borrow any of the photos above for sharing on social media and remember to tag me @KathleenDenly
Have you read any of Jody Hedlund’s novels? If so, which is your favorite? If not, which part of The Runaway Bride appeals to you? Did you enjoy my review?
Let me know in the comments below!
ENJOY CHRISTIAN ROMANCE?
Click HERE to follow my blog and make sure you don’t miss out on any of my upcoming reviews and other fun posts!
Are you a Kathleen’s Readers’ Club member? It’s free (of course) and KRC members receive exclusive content, are eligible for exclusive seasonal book giveaways, and more! Join Today to claim your free novella!
Note: I voluntarily reviewed a complimentary copy of this book which I received from the publisher. All views expressed are 100% my own and 100% sincere. You may read my full disclosure of materials HERE.