This book is a collection of five stories set in the 1800’s and involving marriage agreements that may have included the bride and may not have. They may or may not include marriage agreements that began with love. The stories are Christian based and will approach a relationship with God in different ways as well as use various Bible verses or different aspects of applying Christian values. I found that with each story I was able to see myself within the pages and understand the conflict the characters were involved in. Most of the stories had the characters trying to find their faith in God and learning how to place their trust in God’s plan for them. There were other themes such as learning forgiveness and sins of arrogance, greed, excessive drinking and gambling in which the main and secondary characters were used to teach the reader.
Thanks to a Lonely Heart by Elaine Bonner
Steven Barnes is a long way from home and carrying a lot of guilt. When he receives word that his wife and passed away and that he must come home or his children will become wards of the state Steven makes a rash decision. He asks waitress Emily Johnson to marry him in name only and become the caretaker of his five children.
Emily is a childless widow and says no to Steven but agrees to think on it. Emily finally agrees but can’t figure out why. Steven Barnes is cold and hardly speaks to her. When she arrives at the farm, she is met with anger and suspicion by the children and locals. She doesn’t know what else to do but follow God’s word and eventually she wins over three of the children, but can’t seem to break through the two older boys and even Steven himself.
With faith in God, patience and time, Emily soon learns that Steven’s former wife was verbally and emotionally abusive to the point he couldn’t live with her and that she attempted to turn the town and the children against Steven. Steven with God’s direction discovers evidence proving his support and love of his family. When he confronts the children with the evidence along with friends who speak up regarding Rebecca’s games, Steven begins to heal himself and his family.
A Bride’s Sweet Surprise in Sauers Indiana by Ramona Cecil
Regina Seitz thinks she is in love with Eli the miller’s son but her father refuses to allow the match as he is set on a German son-in-law to take over the farm. She is unaware that her father when faced with no local prospects for his daughter sends money to Germany and seals an agreement for a mail order husband.
Diedrich and his father travel to Indiana but his heart isn’t it in. He has dreams of heading to California to find the promised Gold, but he won’t go back on his word and hurt his father and settles for the future set for him. He also wasn’t expecting how attracted he is to Regina.
Falling for each other sets off a whole new set of problems, especially when a secret to do with Regina’s past that connects to Diedrich’s own family has his father calling off the wedding.
In this story you read how sometimes we think we understand God’s word and are doing what he wants, only to find that we have become arrogant and have lost our trust in letting God take over. We have made assumptions that have displaced God’s will in our lives.
Sonoran Secret by Nancy J. Farrier
Eduardo Villegas is a Christian man who makes a deal to marry in order to forgive another’s debts to him. When the man proves as devious as expected, Eduardo finds himself married to the wrong daughter.
Chiquita has had such a traumatic past that she no longer speaks and is afraid of so much. She works hard and suffers in silence in order to make her new husband as happy as she can. Slowly she finds he is fair and will never hurt her regardless if he is angry or not.
Chiquita has never been taught about Jesus, his love or his sacrifice. She has been taught she is unworthy. Eduardo shows her through God’s word who Jesus is and of his great love and forgiveness. When Chiquita’s life is threatened, she finds herself wishing she knew Jesus and reaches out to him.
In Eduardo and Chiquita’s story you will see how even being a Christian such as Eduardo you will struggle with issues such as anger, but with God’s help and through prayer we can overcome anything. Chiquita is shown how truly worthy she is and how special God finds her.
Love’s Shining Hope by JoAnn A. Grote
JoAnn Grote is one of my favorite authors and her style of writing just draws me in with her heartwarming stories.
In Love’s Shining Hope she introduces us to Jason Sterling, a young man with hopes of marrying his childhood love Miranda and becoming an architect. With the unexpected deaths of his parents, Jason must place his dreams on hold to run the family farm and raise his siblings. He never expected Miranda to turn his marriage proposal down because of his responsibilities.
Pearl Wells has loved Jason Sterling even though he always loved her friend Miranda. When she overhears Miranda callously throwing Jason’s love aside she is shocked. Pear decides to help Jason and his family even though the outcome could damage her reputation.
Pearl continues to believe Jason loves Miranda. Jason slowly realizes he loves Pearl but thinks she loves his brother Frank. Miranda becomes jealous and wants Jason back. A twisted love story that only God can turn around through faith and trust.
Will the magic of Christmas and their faith in God help these two people realize that they belong together?
Kiowa Husband by DiAnn Mills
I was really into this story. The character of Painted Hands and his struggle with God was really interesting. This is definitely one of those books you wish you could read more of the characters beyond what we have been given.
A young girl, Sarah Jane, is traveling with her parents to Oregon with dreams shared as a family. She never thought they would succumb to Typhoid Fever. When the only one in the wagon train willing to help her is Painted Hands, a white man raised by Indians, she is told by the committeemen that she must marry him for them to stay behind together.
Painted Hands has no use for the committeemen, especially the hypocritical clergyman. He turned away from God long ago and favors the Kiowa gods. With personal plans of his own in Oregon and no wish for a wife, Painted Hands tells Sarah Jane he will divorce her once they get to Oregon. He turns a cold shoulder to Sarah Jane in order to shut her out, but Sarah Jane isn’t so easily dissuaded.
As the pair faces one obstacle after another, God works on Painted Hands through several miracles. Will Painted Hands give up the Kiowa gods in favor of the Almighty? Will Sarah Jane and Painted Hands find that God meant for them to be together regardless of their plans?
Every one of these stories shows the human nature and how hard it can be to turn our lives over to God in faith and trust. I once read a line in RoseMarie Naramore’s book, Abound In Love, in which the character discusses God being in control but she was going to ride shotgun. That line stuck with me and I believe it is a good representation of how we should place our lives in God’s hands.
Trust in the Lord with all your heart and lean not on your understanding; in all your ways acknowledge him and he will make your paths straight.
Proverbs 3: 5 NIV
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