“Today she might meet the man she’d marry. On the ship’s main deck, Arabella Lawrence stood absolutely still as a lady ought to do, even though the prospect of seeing her husband-to-be flustered her to a near faint.”

Opening lines of “The Runaway Bride” by Jody Hedlund

“The Runaway Bride” by Jody Hedlund is the next in the Bride Ships series which began with ”A Reluctant Bride”. Once again, a young woman has arrived in British Columbia to marry one of the eligible bachelors. Our leading lady is one of the characters we met in the first book, Arabella. Full of secrets, those around her try and unravel what in her past scares her. Looking for a fresh start, Arabella is determine to make the best of her new life.

Before Arabella even steps off the ship, she meets local baker Peter. The two quickly strike up a friendship and Peter is determined to win Arabella’s affections despite the other, far wealthier, suitors trying to catch her attention. Peter is compassionate and connected to the community. Horrified by the treatment of the native people during the smallpox outbreak, he persistently seeks justice for them.

Arabella doesn’t understand the political atmosphere she’s arrived in and instinctively helps a young, sick native girl taking her to Peter for guidance. Favourites from the first book, Mercy and the doctor, assist too. It sets off a chain reaction and Arabella’s world spins, challenging everything she believes about her role in society and God’s purpose for her life.

The characters are fabulously written, the story is fast-paced and challenging. Drawing on Biblical truths, Jody highlights the importance of empathy and compassion for those in our community. It’s full of fascinating history, it’s brought to life with beautiful writing.

I’m so looking forward to the next one in this series! If you love historical romance, this is one for you! It’s five out of five on the enjoy scale, I highly recommend it.

From the back cover:

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?

I received a complimentary copy of the book from Bethany House Publishers through NetGalley. Opinions expressed in this review are completely my own.

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