Wednesday, January 7, 2015

Book Review: A Most Inconvient Marriage

From the book jacket:

Abigail Stuart Thought She was Jeremiah Calhoun's Widow.
But Jeremiah Calhoun Is Very Handsome, Very Alive, and Very Perplexed.
Most Inconvenient Indeed.

With few options of her own, nurse Abigail Stuart agrees to marry her patient, a gravely wounded soldier calling himself Jeremiah Calhoun. They arrange a quick ceremony before he dies, giving Abigail the rights to his Ozark farm and giving Jeremiah the peace of knowing someone will care for his ailing sister after he's gone--a practical solution for both of them.

After the war, Abigail fulfills her side of the bargain--until the real Jeremiah Calhoun shows up, injured but definitely alive, and wastes no time in challenging Abigail's story. Abigail is

flummoxed. After months of claiming to be his widow, how can she explain that she's never seen this Jeremiah Calhoun before? How can she convince him that she isn't trying to steal his farm? And will she find a way to stay, even though this practical arrangement has turned into a most inconvenient marriage?

  My Review:

There is something incredibly wonderful about a Christian romance to warm the soul and tickle the senses with the sweetness of love.  That's the basic premise of  A Most Inconvient Marriage by Regina Jennings.  Toss in some unruliness, hard times and good decent folk, and this novel delivers just the western novel is purports to be.  However, this isn't a run of the mill western romance where the cowboy rides in and saves a damsel in distress with a tip of his hat and a howdy ma'am.  Rather, it's a slow simmer about two main characters, torn between what each believes is right, set in the Ozarks during a time where the North and South are battling each other, almost as much as Abigail and Jeremiah do through-out this novel.  They are both caught up in a web of an unusual arrangement where both are struggling to find themselves in the midst of a war torn country where everyone seems to be taking a side. 

The characters are delightfully written and the author does a wonderful job of building each personality so well that you get to know them and either like them, nor not.  Abigail is a dutiful nurse, striking up a promise at the bedside of a dying soldier to go back to his farm and take care of his mother and sister, who is gravely sick.  Unbeknownst to her, he is not who he claims to be and finds herself in quite a dilemma after the real Jeremiah Calhoun shows up, and none to happy to hear about her.  He's wounded, both physically and his pride, and finds the fiance' he left behind engaged to someone else and a 'wife' he doesn't want or acknowledge since he's alive and well, not the man who pretended to be him.

There is a whole cast of characters that helps build the plot ~  from the feisty, bitter sister Rachel to Laurel, the fiancé that can't make up her mind who she wants:  Jeremiah or her new doctor suitor, Dr. Hopkins.  The two delightful and playful children of a neighbor, Josiah and Betsy who bring charm and wit to this otherwise hardworking, humdrum daily farm life back drop.  The chapter where Abigail makes a pumpkin pie from scratch to please Rachel and has a melting pie face to scare the busy-body children is absolutely hiliarious!   Jennings even paints a beautiful scene with Abigail meeting her old family horse, Ladymare, at an auction and shares a tender moment.   

However, even with the great character cast, I found this novel slow to warm and didn't quite reach the crescendo I'd hoped.  It is somewhat lackluster and dull in the dialog with the story being too monotonous at times.  I think the author had a nice theme but just didn't deliver the story well and each page, each chapter felt the same as the previous.  I kept waiting for the "wow" factor, but this one sadly fell flat for me.

Disclosure:  I received a complimentary review copy of this book from Baker Publishing Group on behalf of Bethany House Publishers. I was not required to write a positive review and the stated opinion I have expressed is my own. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commissions 16 CFR, Part 255.

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