Wednesday, September 26, 2012

The Bartered Bride Collection by Nine Different Authors

Not long ago, arranged marriages were the normal way of getting married. (And at the rate I'm going, I'll have to get my parents to arrange a marriage for me too :p) So naturally, I was interested in this short story collection. It's quite long (each story is about 10 chapters), so I've got lots to say.

Starting from the top,

Joie De Vivre - I'm not sure where this story is located, (it mentions Acardians, so it may be in Canada), but it has a lovely French feel, without actually being in France. There was quite a lot of French words used, but it just added to the feeling of "French", and was understandable (you know those French words that somehow everyone knows). The story itself was sweet, although I would have liked it better if the conflict was further elaborated. And there was a loose plot end (which I just noticed :p)

Button Strong Bride - It's wound around this interesting concept that a woman must collect 1000 buttons before she marries, and when she does marry, it's to the man who gives her the thousanth button. So Charity (our heroinne), has to live with Ethan and his children due to unexpected difficulties on the road (they are moving to the frontier). It's an interesting romance story, although there is a bit of confusion about "unequally yoked". Ethan, at one point of time, says that apart from sharing the same faith, he and Charity would be unequally yoked. Well, that's not true. As long as both are Christians, they are equally yoked.

The Wedding Wagon - Frankly, this book disturbed me a little. My warning bells were first raised when the groom starting harping on how he was afraid Bethany (or "Bethy-mine" as he calls her) may have married him for his family. Then the word helpmeet (a word that has patriarchal connotations for me) appears. And then, the groom rejoices at finding his wife's great fear of water, because it will make her depend on him. But you know, there's a happy ending, because she likes his possessiveness, and at the end, she learns to ignore the needs of others and focus on him first.

From Halter to Alter - A really amusing and sweet story. It all starts when the evil brother-in-law tries to sell off our heroines (a group of four sisters) off as mail-order bride. But a mis-spelling of "bridals" as "bridles" means that they're sent of to a small town by mistake. A small town of only men I might add. So there's the amusement of life as they adjust (and as the town tries to court them), a cute budding romance between the oldest girl Matty and Jim, the man who accidentally "ordered" her. The ending is fitting and has some kind of "poetic justice" feel.

Oh, and at the end, there's a recipe for goosberry jam. I wanna try cooking....

From Carriage to Marriage - Number two in this series (it'st he sequel to From Halter to Alter), this story follows Corrie, Matty's sister, and Luke (Jim's brother). Corrie's a new (pregnant) widow and Luke's shy (he doesn't want to hurt her feelings or scare her). Basically, it's a sweet love story.

From Pride to Bride - Before I continue, I just noticed that all the stories in this series have rhyming titles. Yes, From Pride to Bride is the third book and follows the third sister Bess (a very prim and proper lady) as she tries to be independent. Along the way, she meets Gideon, the saloon owner (a.k.a. the guy who owns the den of iniquity in town). A really amusing story.

From Alarming to Charming - The last in this mini-series, this follows Bertie and the new stranger (well sort of, he used to live there) Thomas. It's probably the most interesting story because it also deals with racial prejudice (there's a Chinese family), although I don't recall a particularly satisfactory ending for that subplot. And there's a slight mystery, involving two generations and quite a lot of excitement. Well, Bertie has always been portrayed as tomboyish, so I suppose it's fitting that her story is exciting!

A Vow Unbroken - After From Alarming to Charming, this felt rather subdued. It was a sweet love story, but there was very little conflict, internal or external. To me, it was just meh.

Finishing Touches - The final book in the story, it had an interesting premise. The bride and groom got married because the original bride ran away shortly before the wedding. I liked how both sides had to work to overcome the barriers between them, although I think the ending with the sister wasn't plausibly resolved. If she wasn't flighty and didn't dump the groom for a momentary infactuation, then why did she even agree to marry him? That question was never resolved.

Generally, this is a really sweet book, and I liked seven out of nine stories. Which is a pretty good rate, if you ask me.

Disclaimer: I got a free copy of this book from NetGalley in exchange for a free and honest review.

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