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"Melissa Jagears has penned a tender tale of a mail-order bride who takes both the groom--and herself--by surprise when love comes softly...quietly... to heal their broken hearts."
-Julie Lessman, author of Love at any Cost
"A Bride for Keeps is just beautiful. It put me in mind of Janette Oke's sweet prairie romances but with a bit more edge, which I found compelling...I loved it."
-Mary Connealy, author of Fired Up
Everett Cline will never humiliate himself by seeking a mail-order bride. Not again. He's already been jilted by three mail-order brides and figures a wife just isn't in his future. However, a well-meaning neighbor hasn't given up on seeing him settled, so she goes behind his back to bring yet another woman to town for him.
Julia Lockwood has never been anything more than a pretty pawn for her father or a business acquisition for her former fiance. A mail-order marriage in faraway Kansas is a last resort, but she'll do anything to leave her life in Massachusetts and the heartbreak she's experienced there.
Although Everett doesn't see how a beautiful, cultured woman like Julia could be happy sharing his simple life, he could really use a helpmate on his homestead. Determined to prove she's more than just a pretty face, Julia agrees to a marriage in name only. Faced with the harsh realities of life on the prairie and hesitant to explore the tentative feelings growing between them, can Everett and Julia ever let each other in long enough to fall in love?
"Beautiful, descriptive writing makes for excellent storytelling in Jagears' debut... With a well-crafted plot, Jagears deftly expresses the characters' struggle to overcome feelings of self-doubt on their journey toward God and each other." --RT Book Reviews
Posted October 18, 2013
A Bride for Keeps
By: Melissa Jagears
I have found another favorite author! From the first novella, Love by the Letter, I was hooked. A Bride for Keeps, Jagears debut full-length novel, grabs you from the first page. I read this book in two days.
Julia Lockwood thinks she has to do more and more work on the homestead to make her worthy in Everett’s eyes. As with God’s love, it is not works alone that saves you, but faith. Julia must learn to love Everett Cline and accept his love for her. Can she do that with her past clouding her vision of what her life should be like? She has been abused by men in the past and can’t comprehend that Everett might love her for herself.
Everett has sought three mail-order brides before Julia. One died before she arrived and two others married someone else once they got to town. Can he release his heart to Julia even though he’s afraid she will up and leave also? Everett must learn to trust, God and Julia.
As I was reading this, a line spoke to me. “But you just told me you loved me, and those words have already wiped away the hardship. I would have gone through anything to have you say that to me.” As a mother, we say this when we have kids. Even though it involves pain to have a child we go through it. God sent His Son to die on the cross for our sins. Even before we were saved, He loved us and died for us. Just to hear us say we love Him, makes it all worth it. May I never forget to tell Him I love Him.
I did not want this book to end. I love the characters, the messages, the romance. Cannot wait to read the next book by Melissa Jagears!
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Posted October 13, 2013
Series potential but irritating storyline
I am so conflicted about this book. On one hand I really liked the majority of the characters. Mostly. Julia and Everett are both so damaged emotionally - the words expressing their pain and fear are gorgeous and touching, truly showing the reader how conflicted they both are. The secondary characters - meddling Rachel and faithful Dex, along with their brood - are highly entertaining and almost steal the show. They all come together to showcase a beautiful family unit without needing a blood relationship, which is wonderful to read.
On the other hand, Julia and Everett irritated me to no end. At 54% through the book I noted how repetitive their thoughts and actions were - I'm not good enough, I don't deserve this gift, I'm damaged and unforgivable, I'm going to hide my emotions away so as not to get hurt. The avoiding going on between these two was practically a full-time job. By 75% I was close to putting it down and walking away. When I reached the 91% point I feared for the safety of my Nook as I was ready to throw the thing across the room.
The story itself was warm and filled with beautiful moments of faith and friendship. The world building was relatively accurate (though I am no historian) without dumping a bunch of information on the reader. Something about the words Melissa wrote made me want to keep reading even when her characters made me so frustrated and upset. There was a flow to them, a warmth that softened all of the extra drama. They kept me tied to this story all the way through the end. Finally, the moments of faith and scripture were uplifting and a good reminder without crossing the line into "preachy" and fit the story perfectly.
In the end, I gave this one three stars. While I can't say this is a book I would ever read again, there is almost a sense of potential for the series that leaves me wanting to read more. Melissa's writing has a pulse and a strength to it that has me intrigued. In fact, there was a novella published in September that is a companion piece for the series. Love by the Letter is the story of Dex and Rachel, and I will be adding it to my Nook right away.
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Posted March 4, 2014
I think this will be a good series! -
The last thing Everett Cline wants is another mail-order bride, what does Rachel think she's doing sending for one without even telling him. The town already laughs and talks about his luck with women. I mean who would want to try a fifth time after the first one arriving DOA and the other three marrying other men, one before she even arrived in Kansas. Not only that he'd originally been jilted by Rachel's sister who married a man and moved back east. NO! He does NOT want to go through with this.
Julia Lockwood feels that men only want her because of her good looks. Her mother died when she was nine years old after Julia 'let' her newborn brother die. According to her father she is to blame for the death of both of them, I don't know who he blamed for all of the other children that were lost, Julia was the only child that survived. Her father used her for a pretty pawn and he was forcing her to marry a man who only wanted her fathers business. When her fiancee pushes her too far and ruins her, Julia knows she has to run. After answering Rachel's ad for a mail-order bride and becoming friends, she goes to Kansas. Then when she's attacked again, in Kansas, she has even stronger feelings about not having a complete marriage or ever having children.
This was a good story about the struggles some mail-order couples went through. Melissa keeps you reading and pulling for the two to 'JUST TALK' to each other. One trusts God to get them through, the other doesn't think they are good enough for God to care about. It looks like this is going to be a great series.
Posted January 23, 2014
Who doesn't love a mail-order bride story? Hard-working farmer in a harsh, untamed land that's short on women--pretty or otherwise--places an advertisement for a wife. Beautiful (or not), down on her luck Eastern girl with nowhere else to turn answers the ad and heads west to face whatever adventures life has in store. It spells a page-turner every time. But what will that farmer do if the girl decides the farmer, or his farm, is just not good enough and she backs out? How many times will he try?
That's a story I had never read until A Bride for Keeps.
Melissa Jagears has taken the well-loved frame of the mail-order bride story and turned it on its ear with a jaded hero who has sworn off mail-order brides, and a wounded heroine who wants nothing to do with intimacy of any kind. Mix in Everett's irresistible goodness (that shows through despite his best efforts to hide it)--to say nothing of his good looks--and Julia's beauty and vulnerability, and you have a tale sure to win a place in readers' hearts, and on their keeper shelves.
I loved Everett and Julia. My heart broke for the pain that stood between them and happiness. I constantly rooted for them to overcome it and grasp with both hands the love that was staring them in the face. When they finally do, it's in a scene that may be one of the most beautiful romantic resolutions I've ever read...and that's saying A LOT!
The secondary characters are beautifully done as well. From Dex and Rachel Stanton, whom we met in the novella Love by the Letter, to some of the ladies who jilted Everett before Julia's arrival, the minor characters create a community that not only anchors this story in time and place, but also beckons readers to return for more in future novels.
Posted November 22, 2013
After being jilted by the town beauty, Everett Cline succumbs to the local matchmaker’s pressure and writes for a mail-order bride, not once or twice but three times. All ended in disaster; two left him for other men and one arrived in a coffin. Still, unbeknownst to Everett, his matchmaking friend tries one more time. When Julia Lockwood arrives, her stunning beauty makes Everett believe there must be some mistake . . . And her relational baggage rivals his own. Will they make it work?
Set on the Kansas Prairie in the 1870’s, A Bride For Keeps, provides interesting details on pioneer homesteading on the prairie, including forces that would prompt people to resort to arranged marriages by mail, often sight unseen. I enjoyed the nuanced relational angst between a man and a woman searching for love, but more than anything, that this is a story of redemption and restoration.
Posted November 22, 2013
I enjoyed this book I like the characters and the dialog was perfect! However I don't think it was worth the 10.50 I paid only because it was only 260ish pages and the first 40 I already read in her fist book. Still a good author and great story!Was this review helpful? Yes NoThank you for your feedback. Report this reviewThank you, this review has been flagged.
Posted November 5, 2013
A Bride for Keeps by Melissa Jagears is a most delightful story about mail order brides and all the problems that can occur when they arrive at their destination. Everett Cline is having problems keeping up with all the work on his farm so he decides to write for a mail-order bride. To say that Everett is unlucky when it comes to mail-order brides is putting it mildly. Though technically not a mail-order bride the first woman jilted him, the second was dead when she arrived, the third was already married to the town’s shopkeeper when she disembarked from the train, and the fourth left after a week for a man with a larger farm. Everett is determined to never write for another mail-order bride but Rachel, the wife of Everett’s good friend, decides to write for Everett but does not tell him until the bride arrives on the train. When Everett sees Julie he is sure that she will never marry him for she is the prettiest woman he has ever seen and he just knows that she will not want a farmer for a husband. Julie Lockwood left her home in Massachusetts to become a mail-order bride in Kansas for she finally had all she could take of being nothing but a pretty face for her father or simply a business acquisition for her former fiance. Everett is sure that Julie cannot be happy as the wife of a farmer and Julie does not want to ever get married, but after a short time, they decide to marry but it will be a marriage in name only and this leads to all kinds of problems that make for a great story.
All the characters in the story were very well developed and each one came to life as I read about them and by the time I finished the book I felt as if I had several new friends. Not only was the dialogue well done but at times it was very entertaining. Quite a bit of action took place in the story and it was so well written that I was right there in the middle of everything that was happening. I even felt the pain when Julie broke her leg. At times there was even some suspense in the story for I was wondering if Everett and Julie would ever come to love each other.
I highly recommend this book to anyone who loves a good historical romance novel set in the early days of the American West.
LibraryThing provided me with a complimentary copy of this book in exchange for an honest review. I was not required to write a positive review. The opinions I have expressed are my own.
Posted October 29, 2013
This is the first novel for this author and it was a good read. Julie is a mail order bride hoping for a new beginning and Everett has given up finding a bride after trying his hand at mail order brides and ending up rejected. But a well-meaning friend has other plans any maybe this one will be the one.
What I liked: I really liked both Everett and Julia. Both their pasts made falling in love seem almost impossible but with their friends and God’s help they have a chance. I also enjoyed how right from the beginning it felt like I was part of the town. Dex and Rachel were great side characters.
What I did not like: This book goes into great depth about beauty. Not in a bad way and it fit into the story it just seemed a little much. Yes Julia felt her looks were all men saw of her and she was treated badly in her past but it just seemed it took a long time for her to move on and the focus of the physical attraction that Everett had for her got kind of annoying at times. I would have liked them to have spent more time talking then thinking how they were attracted to each other.
Over all I liked this book and I hope to read the novella that was written about Dex and Rachel and I also am looking forward to more books from this author. This author has great promise!
Posted October 29, 2013
"A Bride for keeps" is a wonderful, christian, historical, romance novel. I enjoyed the way the characters interacted with each other and both were very strong willed. For some reason I love mail-order-bride type books, it interest me how people actually did that and the many different reasons why someone would become a mail-order-bride, or look for one. This book will keep you reading to see if Everett and Julia can ever get over their past experiences and find a happy, loving marriage. If you enjoy good clean historical romance fiction you will love this book. I look forward to more books by Melissa Jagears.Was this review helpful? Yes NoThank you for your feedback. Report this reviewThank you, this review has been flagged.
Posted October 29, 2013
The romantic in me enjoys the occasional mail-order bride/marriage-of-convenience story. The concept of a man having three failed mail-order bride attempts definitely caught my attention.
Julia had been very hurt by the two men closest to her, so she had some trust issues with men. That, compounded by the fact that Everett resembled the man she was hurt by most, created an awkward first encounter for the two. Everett longed for a companion, enough to have asked three mail-order brides to venture out West. Through different courses of events, none of those marriages occurred. He was resigned to being alone for the rest of his life, though a good friend and neighbor thought otherwise.
Everett had no idea what was headed his way, but when he learned what had been arranged, he was open to the idea. Until he saw how pretty the woman was. He knew a woman that looked like that could have whatever man she wanted, and would eventually leave him like the others did, so he distanced himself from forming any attachment to her. This, despite his kind nature, made him come across as a bit of a jerk, but only toward her.
Once they were married, and Everett’s unhusbandly-like treatment of Julia was pointed out to him, he did his best to form a better relationship with her. Julia, however, was slower to open up because of her traumatic past, certain Everett would reject her. While they got along fine, there was no real closeness between them because of her fear.
The most tender scenes for me were when Everett stayed and prayed at Julia’s beside, and the final scene of the book. I did feel that Everett’s final struggle initially came across as more harsh than conflicted, but the events that followed were satisfying and full of emotion. There were a few weak spots here and there, but nothing that kept me from finishing.
A Bride for Keeps is an enjoyable read that fans of Christian historical romance will like. I look forward to the next book from Melissa Jagears.
Review originally published on LDS Women's Book Review.
FTC FYI: I received a free galley for review from the publisher through NetGalley in exchange for an honest review.
Posted October 28, 2013
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The Difference Between Making Marriage and Making a Marriage Work
Everett Cline has a complex. If you endured what he did, you’d have one as well.
A Midwestern farmer with a small, growing farm, Everett needs assistance (i.e. a wife) So, like many men in his time, he seeks a mail-order bride. It’s just that every bride ends up leaving him for someone else. One left him for someone moving back east. One died on the train. One met another man on the train and decided to marry him instead of Everett. One saw Everett’s farm and decided to leave him for a man with a bigger farm. It’s gotten so bad that the town can’t stop making jokes about it. An unknown female disembarking at the train station is likely to be asked if she’s in town to marry Everett Cline.
So when Julie Lockwood appears in town set to marry him, he doesn’t know what to think. Another mail-order bride hadn’t even been his idea, but the idea of a friend who thought he should give it one more try. So when the friend’s efforts actually lead to the altar, one would think Everett’s troubles are over. However, it’s one thing to have a wife in name only, like so many arranged marriages in that time. It’s another thing to make that person your partner for life.
Author Melissa Jagears does a wonderful job of showing the difference between making a marriage and making a marriage work. Her hero and heroine are stubborn. They are determined to do things their own way. However, in a marriage, you do things for the benefit of each other. Watching this change occur makes the book an enjoyable read, and one I would recommend.
Disclosure: Writer did receive a copy of the book free.
Posted October 27, 2013
Everett Cline had been jilted enough to wound any man's pride. After his best friend's sister-in-law left him for another man he decided to try his luck with mail-order brides only to be jilted by three more women. With a bruised ego, as well as a bruised heart, Everett refused to go that route again. Even though he longed for the companionship of a good woman he would no longer be fodder for town gossip. But when his best friend's wife, Rachel, ordered a bride without his knowledge he found himself enamored with the beautiful Julia Lockwood. Even though he would like nothing better than to have her by his side he knows he must guard his heart. What if she leaves him like the others? Surely this time would break his heart but can he love her completely and, at the same time, live with a marriage of convenience?
Julia Lockwood fled from Boston for two reasons, to get away from her father's scheming ambitions and to put distance between herself and a horrible nightmare. Why else would she agree to be a mail-order bride? All Julia had were her looks, or so she had been told, so what man would want her for anything more? Everett was a kind man but Julia felt she had to prove her worth. She worked as hard as any man but she was afraid that when Everett found out about her past he would no longer want her. How could he love her if he knew? Her past also kept her from accepting the love of her Heavenly Father. Could Everett help her come to understand her own self-worth, not only in her eyes, but in his eyes and the eyes of God as well? Can she come to love her husband despite her fears? Will God heal her heart and give her the love she never dreamed she would have?
Let me start by saying I absolutely loved this book. This is the first book I have read by Melissa Jagears but I am already looking forward to the next one (hmmm maybe one about William?). The plot is one that is always a pleasing read to me. Both Everett and Julia had feelings for each other but kept them to themselves which made for some great tension. Julia's feelings surfaced more toward the end but there were little hints earlier on that she didn't seem to recognize as the beginnings of love. Although this type of plot isn't new it sure had some new angles that enriched the story. I won't give away any significant parts (no spoilers here) but it also dealt with an issue that is rarely addressed in historical fiction and I loved that. I loved Everett's heart too. It was as big and wide as the land he lived on and the way he loved Julia through her fears and doubts only endeared him to me more. If you love historical fiction and great story lines you will absolutely love A Bride for Keeps. I highly and irrevocably recommend it!
**I received a complimentary copy of this book from Bethany House for my honest review.**
Posted October 27, 2013
There are quite a few mail order bride novels on the shelves these days, but this one is a fresh look, a different perspective, really. Everett has tried the route of finding a bride from out east numerous times already, but why that happened, the reader will find out in the book. He will not try it again! The situations and characters are humorous at times, at other times frustrating, but always entertaining. Melissa caught my attention and my heart from the first page where I met Everett Kline coming out of the mercantile in Salt Flatts, Kansas and kept it through out the novel as I followed the residents of the small prairie town. Never a dull moment, it seems as, everyone in the county has advice that they are only too willing to share with him. And as with all close knit communities, each one knows the other one's business better than he himself does!
I will recommend this to my friends and look for more books by Melissa!
"Book has been provided courtesy of Baker Publishing Group and Graf-Martin Communications, Inc. Available at your favourite bookseller from Bethany House, a division of Baker Publishing Group."
Posted October 24, 2013
A Bride for Keeps ~ Melissa Jagears
I truly enjoyed this book; it was a wonderful read from a first time author! I found the story captivating, to have a mail order bride set up for you! Wow! What could you do when everyone thinks you are doomed before she even meets you because of your record with other mail order brides? And if you were the woman trying to prove you are better able bodied then your looks relate? This was the perfect recipe for a great read!
I found this to be a wonderful story of two people who are searching for love and settling for what they deem is enough. Wanting to prove to themselves that they are worth more then others think of them. While trying to each other that they are the perfect one for what the other one needs. Can love ever blossom between to such characters? I sure is fun to read and find out! I am very much looking forward to the next book by this author.
I received a free copy of this book for my honest review.
Posted October 19, 2013
Mail Order Bride!
What a fantastic read. From page one to the very last page this author draws you
into the story. If this is Melissa Jagears debut book I can’t wait to see what follows!
She has made a fan out of me. I finished this book early this morning and I
thought about it off and on all day. It made that big of an impact on me.
If you want to know how hard it was to live in the west in 1876 this book is for you.
The characters are lovable, well most of them are, and the hardships are plenty.
Brides are hard to find and men are lonely.
Everett Cline needs a wife and Julia Lockwood needs to escape from her life in the
East. Is she making a mistake agreeing to become a wife to a man she doesn’t
This is the most touching book I have read in a long time. Many Christian fiction
books refer to God and even quote scripture, however, the message that Melissa
Jagears includes toward the end of this book between Everett and Julia made my
heart overflow. Such a tender and intimate invitation for a man to extend to a
woman. What a great God moment.
If you are reading my review I urge you to purchase a copy of this book. You are
going to love it!
I won this book from Bethany House, thank you. I wasn’t required to write a review.
It was my pleasure to do so. The opinions expressed are mine alone.
Posted October 18, 2013
I really enjoyed this debut novel by Melissa Jagears. This is the story of Julia and Everett. What a moving mail order bride tale!
After being jilted by his sweetheart years ago, Everett set out to find himself a mail order bride for companionship as well as need for help around his farm. Three attempts and three failures later, he has given up. His friends, however, have not given up! Much to Everett's surprise, his new mail order bride has arrived!
Julia is typical of many mail-order brides in that she has something in her past that she is trying to escape from. Where Julia strays from the norm is that her past includes a very traumatic event that is going to make it extremely difficult to trust a man ever again.
When these two marry, will Everett be able to open himself up to his new bride, even after being jilted so many times before? Will Julia ever be able to trust Everett and be the wife he desires?
I found these characters to be very well written. Julia's fear is completely understandable, as is Everett's frustration with her! Watching these two find love is thoroughly enchanting!
I received a copy of A Bride for Keeps from the publisher through NetGalley in exchange for an honest review, which I have given.
Posted October 17, 2013
Book started out slow, but I got into it midway. I enjoyed reading about the determination of the man to win the love of his wife who had been deeply hurt in time past. In the book you read about his struggle with God to deny his flesh his marital rights in order to make his wife feel safe and cared for. Through the book you wonder will he get all he hoped for in a wife....
Posted October 13, 2013
The last thing that Everett Cline wants right now is for another woman to step foot off the train looking for marriage from him. After three unsuccessful attempts to finding a wife to help him on his farm, and all of them not working out in his favor he has lost interest in finding anyone who will marry him. After his failed attempts at finding love through mail order brides, first one married someone else before getting off the train, the second one died before arriving and the third took one look at what he was asking her to help with on the farm, and opted for someone else. Now his sister Rachel is involved with a friend who believes she is just the right woman for Everett. But when Julia Lockwood arrives in town, she turns just about every head there is, women and men.
Julia Lockwood answered Rachel's request to marry her brother Everett in hopes of alleviating the constant demands of men wanting her for her beauty and what they hoped she could provide as the wealthy daughter of a prominent businessman from Boston. Not afraid of hard work, Julia hopes she can provide just what Everett is looking for, someone to help him out on the farm. She has already seen what her looks can do to a man that wanted to be a part of her father's business and insisted on getting it from Julia despite her attempts at refusing his advances. Now assured that besides having more than her beauty robbed of her, she's hoping she can convince Everett to marry her to ensure men won't be looking at her for anything more than being someone's else's wife. She isn't looking for love and hopes she can convince Everett she isn't one to run away from anything.
But since both Everett and Julia have been burned by their pasts, they will do whatever they can to put up false fronts that will do more than build walls around their hearts. It will also keep them from learning to love and forgiving those that have hurt them instead of making one another pay for someone else's mistakes. Yet what will it take for either of them to become truly honest and work to heal those painful pasts and teach each other what God truly wants from unconditional love? Will it take the risk of losing one another to make them appreciate what they really have or will they simply fade away into the sunset and suffer in silence with their dark mistakes?
I received A Bride for Keeps by debut author Melissa Jagears compliments of Christian Fiction Blog Alliance and Bethany House Publishers for my honest review. I did not receive any monetary compensation for a favorable review and the opinions expressed in this review are my own. This is such a believable novel for me when you consider the challenges of being a mail order bride. There is no courtship and at times even those marriages are often worse than remaining single and alone. I found Julia's story to be just what I would expect and loved Everett's challenge at trying to keep his promise to refrain from taking advantage of Julia just because he is married to her, despite her beauty. She works hard to prove herself something we all try to do to earn our way into God's good graces, such is the story of Julia trying to earn Everett's favor. It simply doesn't work. This is the first novel by Melissa Jagears and it certainly won't be her last. For those of you that love a great Western Romance, this one is guaranteed to capture your heart. I rate this a 5 out of 5 stars and it has found a permanent home in my library. Melissa Jagears is now on my MUST READ list!
Posted October 9, 2013
I received this book free from Bethany House on the terms that i post a review. When i ripped open the package and read the back cover i thought "Seriously? I gotta read this thing?" I was thinking it would be just another clichéd mail-order bride romance. You know, reluctant bride and reluctant husband find love against all odds blah blah blah. Ha! Don't judge a book by its cover people! (How's that for cliché? ;) While this story is about a mail-order bride and her reluctant husband, it was so charming and well written that you forget you're supposed to be bored!
The story starts out with poor Everett, rejected by 4 other would-be brides, yet again looking at a prospective wife. I won't wreck the story for you (Because you are going to read it, right?) so i'll just let you read it for yourself! It's definitely worth your time. This book grabs you from the first page and doesn't let go. I started reading it late one night, and didn't finish until well into the early morning hours. I wasn't about to put it down and leave Julia to an unknown fate! The characters are well thought out and so easy to relate to. We've all been scarred by a memory and been unable to move on and forget...right? That's what i thought...
This one is worth the time it takes to get lost in its pages.
Posted October 6, 2013
“A Bride for Keeps” by Meslissa Jagears is a wonderful read! I am a busy mom with four kids but I read it in just a few days because of the heart-warming storyline, great development of the characters, and because it just kept me entertained! I really enjoy a good love story to help me relax and “escape” for a little bit and this one has some unique twists. There’s also a wonderful message about God’s relentless, enduring love for us, which is captured by the main character, Everett. Melissa is a talented writer with a fresh, witty style. I highly recommend her book!Was this review helpful? Yes NoThank you for your feedback. Report this reviewThank you, this review has been flagged.