I sort have this weird fascination with the 1860’s mail-order brides, so when A Bride in the Bargain popped up on my radar, I immediately snapped it up. The story revolves around Joe Denton and Anna Ivey. Joe’s a lumberjack living near Seattle who desperately needs a wife, a scarce “commodity” in the Washington Territory. Because he doesn’t have a death certificate for his first wife, who died before she joined him out west, Joe stands to loose half his land and his livelihood. After plunking down several hundred dollars to literally buy a wife from Asa Mercer, Joe is introduced to spunky Anna Ivery, who Asa led to believe that she’s going to be a cook, not a wife.
The beginning of this novel is actually very strong; the historical details are woven into the story in a believable way and the characters are charming. However, as the story progresses, the historical setting is tossed aside. Joe and Anna say things that are clearly 21st-century speech, not the 19th-century setting they’ve been placed in. Joe’s extravagances and wealth is implausible for the time; no man would decorate a house the way he did. And by the end of the book, the development of Anna and Joe’s relationship is tossed aside for jumping in bed.
Yes, this is a Christian novel, but their wedding is completely rushed and loses sight of building and elaborating on their relationship. On the other hand, one of the pluses about A Bride in the Bargain is the lack of preaching. If I hadn’t know it was a Christian novel, I never would have known based on the content. Occasionally God is mentioned, but these mentions reflect more of the times than the author or publisher’s religious views.
- Gist, Deeanne. A Bride in the Bargain. Minneapolis, Minn.: Bethany House, 2009. Print. 365 pgs. ISBN: 9780764204074. Source: Purchased.