Ewan McKay has immigrated to West Virginia with his aunt and uncle, promising to trade his skills in the clay business for financial help. Uncle Hugh purchases a brickmaking operation from a Civil War widow and her daughter, and it's Ewan's job to get the company up and running again.
Ewan seeks help from Laura, the former owner's daughter, and he quickly feels a connection with her, but she's being courted by another man--a lawyer with far more social clout and money than Ewan. Resolving that he'll make the brickworks enough of a success that he can become a partner in the business and be able to afford to bring his sisters over from Ireland, Ewan pours all his energy into the new job.
But when Hugh signs a bad business deal, all Ewan's hard work is put in jeopardy. As his hopes for the future crumble, Laura reveals something surprising. Can she help him save the brickworks, and will Ewan finally get a shot at winning her heart?
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The Brickmaker's Bride
By Judith Miller
Bethany HouseCopyright © 2014 Judith Miller
All rights reserved.
Along the banks of the Tygart Valley River, West Virginia September 1868
An unexpected rush of sentiment caught Laura Woodfield by surprise. She tightened her grip on Winston Hawkins's arm as she stepped down from the carriage. Why did entering the brickyard, even the one established by her father, provoke such an awkward show of emotion?
Winston patted her gloved hand. "You have more strength in that small hand than I would have ever imagined. Don't falter now."
"I'm sorry." Laura loosened her grasp and forced a smile. "This place holds many memories, and I haven't been down here since ..." The final words caught in her throat.
Her father hadn't returned from the war. Still, the Tygart River continued to flow, and the seasons still changed without fail. Fall had arrived and the ancient trees that surrounded the Tygart River Valley were already bursting with color. Her father had often declared that God had given him the most beautiful place in the world to perform his labor, and Laura agreed.
While her friends had longed to move to Wheeling, Allegheny City, or Pittsburgh, Laura remained content, feeling more at home in the foothills of the Allegheny Mountains. Though she enjoyed occasional visits to the city, she was always happy to return home. Over the past week, she had wondered if her feelings about this place would change once they sold the brickyard. Surely not. Surely she would never want to leave the valley.
She removed a lace-edged handkerchief from her pocket and dabbed her eyes.
"This isn't a time for sadness. You and your mother should be delighted that someone has finally shown interest in purchasing this place." Winston's words were firm yet kind. He gestured toward the huge kilns in the distance. "It's been more than three years since the war ended. Your father would want you to ease your burdens and sell the business."
A brown curl escaped Laura's bonnet as she tipped her head to one side. "I don't know how you can speak with such authority when even I don't know what my father would have preferred. He always spoke of this business as something that would sustain our family for the rest of our lives."
"I'm not attempting to speak for your father, Laura, but when he told you of his dreams for the future, he had no idea the country would go to war." Winston removed his black felt bowler and traced his fingers through his thick sandy-brown hair. "Where are those two Irishmen?" The corners of his lips drooped into a frown as he settled his hat back atop his ruffled hair. "I dislike tardiness. If a man can't keep on schedule, how can he expect to succeed? I've been told the Irish are prone to drinking. I do hope they're not sitting in a saloon somewhere."
"Only yesterday you told me they were excellent prospects, industrious and financially stable. Today you believe they are sitting in a saloon rather than coming here to discuss a contract?" Laura arched her eyebrows. "I wouldn't want to deal with men of ill repute, and I certainly do not wish to sell my father's business to men who won't be good employers. Father prided himself on treating his employees with respect and paying them a fair wage."
Winston straightened his shoulders and appeared to immediately grow several inches taller, his lanky frame towering over Laura's mere five foot two inches. "Forgive me. My words were spoken out of frustration, but I detest tardiness almost as much as I dislike surprises. I suppose it's the lawyer in me."
There was a strained note in his voice that deepened Laura's confusion. She wasn't sure what to expect from these prospective buyers. Were they good, industrious men who could be trusted, or were they drunken immigrants to be avoided at all costs? Surely Winston wouldn't have presented the offer to her mother if he didn't have confidence in the men.
Unable to remain still for even a moment, Winston pressed his spectacles onto the bridge of his nose. If the men didn't appear, he likely feared her mother would consider him a lackluster representative.
Moments later he turned his head and gazed toward the road. "Ah, I believe I hear hoofbeats." He pointed toward the path leading down to the brickyard. "Here they come." Heaving a relieved sigh, Winston folded his arms across his chest. "You would think they'd urge their horses to move with a little more speed. I'm certain they can see us waiting on them."
Turning aside, Laura surveyed the vast expanse that had been her father's pride before he'd marched off to war. He'd worked so hard to create this business, determined to make it a success. And he had. Their home and financial security were a testimony to his resolve.
Even his departure had been filled with optimism. The day he and many of the local men had headed off to war, he'd spoken of the future. And his subsequent letters had revealed no fear. Instead, he wrote about the new machinery he would purchase when he returned and how he planned to expand the brickyard. Of course, none of that would happen now.
Winston placed a steadying hand on her arm. "If this is too difficult for you, please tell me. It's my intention to achieve the highest financial gain for you and your mother, but if you appear weak in front of the prospective buyers, it could hurt our chances."
She inhaled a deep breath. "I'll be fine as long as I can rely upon you to take the lead."
"Of course, my dear. That's what your mother hired me to do. I wouldn't consider anything less, but please try to appear strong—don't let them see any hint of tears."
She'd momentarily forgotten Winston was performing a duty for his client. Fortunately, he possessed no personal attachment to the brickyard and could remain firm and detached as he conducted the business at hand.
"I plan to put all of my negotiation skills to good use so that you and your mother will receive the highest possible price for the brickyard."
Laura didn't doubt his word. Winston was considered one of the finest lawyers in the area, and though there'd been no mention of fees, her mother would expect to pay Winston. The fact that he'd been courting Laura would not deter her mother. She would insist upon compensating him for his time and services.
Laura appraised the two riders as they approached. Winston had revealed the men were related, an uncle and nephew from Ireland who were in search of a fully operational brickyard—one that would turn a generous profit in a reasonable amount of time. They claimed to have had years of experience making bricks back in Ireland and believed a brickworks best suited their capabilities and would provide a sound return on their investment. Winston seemed certain the Woodfield Brickworks would meet their requirements. Laura wasn't as sure. Much depended upon what these men considered a generous profit and a reasonable amount of time.
The younger of the two men cut a fine figure, with broad shoulders and a muscular build. Laura leaned a bit closer. "The younger one looks like he's worked in a brickyard all his life."
"Either that or digging potatoes." Winston grinned and tugged on his jacket sleeves. "His physique would put most any man to shame, but I suppose he has manual labor to thank for his muscles. I do wish the buyers weren't Irish, but we've had no other offers."
The men had dismounted and were walking toward them, but Laura silently reminded herself to inquire later about Winston's dislike of the Irish. Many people still held Irish immigrants in low esteem, but she didn't realize Winston's negative feelings ran so deep.
The older man extended his hand to Winston as he neared. "Mr. Hawkins. 'Tis a fine day we have for our meeting. A wee bit of sunshine with the smell of autumn in the air." He dropped his hold on Winston's hand and nodded at Laura. "'Tis a surprise to see a woman in the brickyard."
"Miss Woodfield is more knowledgeable about her father's brickmaking operation than I am, and it was her wish to be here." Winston turned toward Laura. "Miss Laura Woodfield, let me introduce you to Mr. Hugh Crothers and his nephew, Mr. Ewan McKay."
Laura dipped her head. "Women and children were never an unusual sight in this brickyard, Mr. Crothers. They often brought lunch to their husbands and fathers. During the summer months of my childhood, I spent as much time at my father's side as he would permit. Once I was older, I tallied the hours and pay for the workers. Of course, that was before the war."
"I might add that her mother wasn't particularly pleased," Winston put in.
Before Winston could speak any further about her mother's protestations, Laura motioned the men forward. "Shall we begin?"
Both men praised the clay deposits in the hills that surrounded the site and expressed their approval of the eight domed brick kilns, their chimneys rising to the skies. Laura escorted them past the long storage sheds constructed around the periphery of the complex, and they offered favorable smiles when Laura added that the Tygart River gave them easy access to water for the soaking pits.
"We have access to both the railroad and the river for transporting the bricks." Laura inhaled a deep breath. "I think you'll agree it is a sound operation. The Woodfield Brickworks is well known for producing quality bricks."
"Aye, I do not doubt what you tell us, Miss Woodfield. You do have a fine brickyard. But I must be truthful with you. Ewan and I struck an agreement that we would not purchase a yard that did not have at least two VerValen machines. You have only one machine in your yard. If we're to secure the kind of contracts we want, I think we need to have the ability to produce in larger quantities."
Ewan studied the yard and then looked back at Laura. "Though I think one VerValen would be enough, my uncle is firm about having two."
Laura sucked in a breath. "My father managed very well with this equipment. He paid his men a fair wage, and our family never wanted for anything. Perhaps our brickworks isn't a good fit for you gentlemen."
Winston shot her a warning look. "Please forgive Miss Wood field. Since her father's death, she has been particularly sensitive to criticism of his business." His lips curved in a sympathetic smile. "I'm sure you gentlemen understand."
"Aye." Mr. Crothers nodded, then reached into his pocket and removed a pipe. "True it is that womenfolk are better suited to tending the home fires than the kilns of a brickyard."
Angered by the condescending comment, she attempted to pull free of Winston's arm. With a quick movement, he held her hand in place and gave a slight shake of his head. She understood Winston's concern: He didn't want her to ruin the possible sale, but given the price these men had been quoted for the brickyard, they expected far too much. And they needed to be told.
She'd abide by Winston's warning and remain calm, but she didn't intend to remain silent. "If you have visited other brickyards in the area, I'm sure you've discovered there are few that have even one of the VerValen machines. I cannot imagine any brickyard owning two. It simply isn't necessary."
After a long draw on his pipe, Mr. Crothers blew several smoke rings into the air. "Fine it is this brickyard of yours, Miss Woodfield, but our Scots-Irish dreams are much larger than you can imagine."
The man must be daft. Either that or he had no idea how many bricks could be molded in one day using the machine. "That one machine can mold at least fifty thousand bricks a day, Mr. Crothers. Do you believe you'll have orders that require you to surpass that quantity?"
"Is it unskilled at securing customers you think us, Miss Woodfield?" There was a lilt to his voice and a twinkle in his eye.
"Of course Miss Woodfield doesn't believe you are unskilled as brickmakers or as businessmen, do you, Laura?" There was a hint of panic in Winston's voice. He wanted to close this deal for her mother.
"No. I don't believe either of those things, but I do think their expectations are unreasonable. If they want two VerValen machines, then they'll need to purchase one themselves or look for another brickyard. They'll not secure a better yard or a better price than what we've offered."
Mr. McKay chuckled and nudged his uncle's arm. "You may have met your match, Uncle Hugh."
"'Tis true you are as determined as any woman I have met, Miss Woodfield. But we need a contract that is a good arrangement for everyone, not just for you. Purchasing an additional machine would be a huge expense."
"That's true enough, but you need not purchase a second one immediately. And certainly not until you've secured contracts that prove you have need of the additional machinery."
Mr. Crothers glanced toward the sky as a bank of gray clouds gathered. "There are some other sites we yet need to visit." He extended his hand to Winston. "We will contact you once we have made a final decision." He turned toward Laura. "If you and your mother should decide to lower your price, have your lawyer send word. My wife and her sister will be staying at the hotel in Bartlett while we continue our search."
When the two men started toward their horses, Winston stepped forward. "If it's the money to purchase machines that's holding you back from making a decision to purchase this brickyard, I believe I can be of some assistance."
The older man glanced over his shoulder. "How is that, Mr. Hawkins?"
"I'm on the board of directors at Bartlett National Bank. I think we could offer you a loan at very low interest should you wish to purchase additional equipment." Winston gestured toward the yard. "You would have more than enough collateral to secure a loan for a VerValen molding machine—even two or three, if you'd like."
Mr. McKay stopped short. "That is most kind of you, Mr. Hawkins. I believe—"
"Ewan!" Mr. Crothers glared at his nephew before tipping his hat to Laura and Winston. "Thank you for showing us the yard. When we make a decision, I will let you know."
Thunder rumbled in the distance, and Winston clasped Laura's arm as they stepped toward the carriage. "We should hurry. I don't want you to be stuck out here in a downpour."
He didn't wait for her response before grasping her elbow and urging her toward the carriage.
Once they were on their way, Laura folded her hands in her lap. "I have a feeling you're unhappy with me, but I felt compelled to speak my piece. Besides, there are no brickyards in the area that are anywhere near the size of this one. I think Mr. Crothers is bluffing to see if we'll give in to his demands."
"There's nothing to say they're not looking elsewhere, is there? There are brickyards in many other parts of the country They could take a train up to New York and discover many a brickyard along the Hudson River up near Haverstraw. I still hold strong hope that they'll return with an offer your mother can accept."
Laura had heard tales of the huge brickyards on the Hudson River from her father. He had kept every news clipping and article he'd ever read about various yards and the production of bricks. She surmised Winston had learned of Haverstraw while going through her father's papers.
"They were in Pennsylvania, up near the New York border, before coming here, so I would assume they've already surveyed all of the brickyards farther north."
"You never fail to surprise me with what goes on in that head of yours." The horses, undeterred by the continuing rumbles of thunder, plodded onward.
Laura arched her brows. "I hope that doesn't mean you think women can't so much as deduce the obvious."
"Of course not. I give credit where credit is due. You're more intelligent than many of the men with whom I conduct business."
His tone was flattering, but she doubted Winston's words were entirely genuine. Few men thought women their equal when it came to business. Still, she was pleased by his compliment.
The skies continued to darken. Changing winds labored through the densely wooded hillsides, and leaves scattered to the ground in a profusion of autumn-colored confetti.
Winston's face tightened as a bolt of lightning split the sky. "We'll talk more when we get back to the house." He flicked the reins. "Come on, boys. Let's get the lady home before the rain begins."
She wondered if he hoped to convince her mother the sale was in their best interest. Would her mother agree with Winston? In any event, Laura was determined to make certain Winston understood her position. "I do hope you'll remember that the brickyard has been an important part of my life."
Winston pulled back on the reins as they came to a halt in front of the Woodfields' grand brick mansion. "I do understand, Laura, but your mother believes it's time to move forward, and I agree. This sale will give you both the freedom to do so." A groomsman scurried from the carriage house and held the reins while Winston circled the buggy to assist Laura. He tilted his head to the side and met her gaze. "I hope you don't think me unsympathetic, but I believe your mother will know what's best in this circumstance."
"We'll see. I do hope you don't plan to use all of your courtroom skills in an attempt to convince her to sell." Laura extended her gloved hand and stepped down. "There are very few things I believe are worth an argument, but the brickyard is one of them. I would be extremely unhappy if the brickyard sold for less than its value."
"I think you might want to give further consideration to the burden the brickyard places on your mother and consider bowing to her wishes." Together they continued up the front steps. "The final decision belongs to your mother, so I hope you won't hold it against me when I advise her to sell to these men." Winston gave her a sideways glance. "After all, there have been no other offers."
Laura stepped into the foyer and met his gaze. "True enough, but Mother values my opinion, and I hope that after you plead your case, she'll take my advice."
Excerpted from The Brickmaker's Bride by Judith Miller. Copyright © 2014 Judith Miller. Excerpted by permission of Bethany House.
All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.
Excerpts are provided by Dial-A-Book Inc. solely for the personal use of visitors to this web site.
Most Helpful Customer Reviews
This is a sweet story of love and redemption. If you enjoy clean love stories, then this story is one that you will enjoy. ***esk 02/2017***
Historical fiction fans will want to dig into this new series! A very interesting setting, West Virginia at the beginning of the Reconstruction Era, and a combination of characters from different cultures and economic status, plus the bonus of the detailed brickmaking process, kept me reading on to the end. Good start to a new series by this seasoned Christian author. Recommend! 4.5 stars
This story is set in a reconstruction America, the Civil War has finally ended, and the country is trying to recover. Laura Woodfield’s father was a casualty of the war, and now her mother wants to sell their brickyard. We have Irish immigrants who become interested in purchasing this business, and a young man Ewan McKay who desperately wants the business to succeed; he wants to bring his sisters to America. The theme of the story is part romance, and part answering to God for sins. The money to purchase the plant is ill gotten, and Ewan’s Uncle is still following the wrong way of living. Things get so bad, that the new business appears to be going down the tubes. Will anything happen to help them save the company? I loved looking at this part of our countries history, and could just picture going from home to home, by foot and horse. There are some very interesting characters in this story, and felt another book could be written about Kathleen, Uncle Hugh’s sister-in-law, and sister to Margaret. The faith of most of these people touched me; they really lived their love of God. I enjoyed this story in many ways, and we need to remember our past, so it doesn’t repeat. I received this book through Litfuse Publicity Book Tours, and was not required to give a positive review.
Enjoyable all the way through
Great storyline, very enjoyable read. I really limed the Hero, Ewan. Laura was likeable, but I found Ewan to be more likeable. Ewan sisters, just loveable...especially the twin girls. His Uncle and Aunt, another story. Laura's Mom was okay, I warmed up more towards the end. Kathleen, was okay. Overall, a good story. ***vrnb***
I recommend this book.
Typical harlequin type writing. A big disappointment.
Can't wait to read the next one.
Highly recommended This is a great love story and it has Christian values -- meaning it is clean uplifts God BUT without preaching to the reader for those who might otherwise skip getting this book. I can't add to what the other great review already have other to say I found it difficult to put the book down and when finished I was slightly disappointed when it did end because there were several loose ends but nothing to take away from what was written. Hopefully, those loose ends will be tied up in a sequel.
Has a lot of human concern and complicated characters to keep your interest until the end .
A great story that shows how faith can get you through anything. I have enjoyed Judith's books in the past and this can be added to my list of books that I really liked. Judith does a wonderful job of pulling you into the story, maybe wanting to slap someone really hard, many times even, oh yes, you have to read to see how cruel one person can be.
The Brickmaker’s Bride by Judith Miller is the first book in her new Refined by Love series, but it is not the first novel by her I have ever read. However, I was disappointed to find I did not enjoy this book nearly as much as I had hoped I would. The plot was fairly slow—it took me a little while to get into the story—and I found many parts of it to be very repetitive. It also felt very predictable to me, and the many, many descriptions of the brickworks got old after a while. I did enjoy learning about how bricks are made, but eventually all the small details became a bit much. Fortunately I did enjoy the ending, but then, who doesn’t love a happily ever after? Although I know Laura Woodfield is supposed to be the heroine of the story, I found it difficult to like her. She seemed constantly sorry for herself, and I just couldn’t understand why she felt she must continue on with her relationship to the horrid Winston Hawkins. While her attitude towards her situation sometimes irked me, I did love her spirit. She was constantly standing up to Winston and speaking her mind, and that was something I admired in her. I also loved how she didn’t let society define her, but rather threw the confines of ‘proper etiquette’ aside when it got in the way of what she felt was right. And that brings us to her mother, Mrs. Woodfield. Although she was a sweet woman who obviously loved her daughter very much, she cared entirely too much about what others would think, what was right for people in their station, what was ‘proper’. For a Christian woman, I expected more of her, and was sadly disappointed when she constantly looked to society to judge what was acceptable. One thing I did like about that quality in her, however, was the fact that it did lend to the ‘no one’s perfect’ theme that Judith portrayed very well throughout this book. Now we get to Ewan McKay. I wanted to love him, I really did, but he just didn’t live up to the ‘hero of the story’ expectation I had in my head. He was a sweet man, though, and I loved the way he related to his sisters and how much he cared for them. His hardworking attitude was inspiring, and the way he kept his temper even when dealing with his gambler of an uncle was very admirable. However, I couldn’t stand how quickly he appeared to fall in love with Laura. It seemed as if, from the very first moment they met, he was on her side, and I just cannot bring myself to believe in love at first sight in such a way. To me, it almost felt as if—at first—he was choosing her just to spite his aunt and uncle, who couldn’t stand her. Eventually, his love for her became the sweetest part of the story, but I just didn’t like how quickly it started. All in all, I still give this story four bookshelves, as—despite its somewhat slow nature—I never once found myself just skimming the pages, and I did love the ending (did I mention that yet?). I also found the historical facts to be impeccable and interesting, and I did eventually grow to like most of the characters (Ewan’s aunt and uncle could never stop being insufferable, but I believe that was intended). I wouldn’t necessarily recommend this novel, but I am still planning on reading the second book in this series—The Potter’s Lady—which is about Ewan’s older sister and releases on August fourth, so I wouldn’t say this book was anywhere near a total flop. (This review is from my blog, spreadinghisgrace.blogspot.com)
The Brickmaker’s Bride by Judith Miller is an excellent story of post Civil War days in West Virginia. Judith Miller shares how difficult it was to run a brickmaking operation when most of the men had been killed in the war or no longer able to do manual labor. You will feel Ewan McKay’s desperation to make the operation a success and to bring his younger sisters from Ireland. Judith Miller has done an great job of making you feel the frustrations and pain as well as love and joy felt by the characters in this book. The story was easy to follow. I was given this book by Bethany House and thoroughly enjoyed it.
I love all of Judith Miller's books. Each one comes dripping with historical detail and rich character storylines.
I positively enjoyed the book even though it plays on my emotions some and that includes some tear. I love the fact the author didn't make it feel like a TV sitcom, where every thing was all sunshine & rainbows; but it had a more realistic approach to it. I just think it is an easy read and a wonderful book!! It's storyline has a post - Civil War feel with some historical references in it. It has a wonderful appeal to me as the main male character, Ewan & family come from Ireland. I have a soft spot for anything set in Ireland. Judith brings a range of emotions as we encounter each character in the book. The pace was steady and in a way educational too. Judith took the time to do her research on brick making in order to make us, the readers; understand the process that it takes to make good bricks and the down fall of making poor quality product. We do see that we can pick our friends some times, but never our family as Ewan's aunt tends to be a harpy in the way she treats not Ewan, but her sister, her husband and even the Widow Woodfield. And then there is Hugh - the uncle who addicted to gambling and interested in finding a gaming table than actually doing what it takes to run the brick-making business. Even though he thinks like he knows all, a jack-of-all-trades so to speak. He occasionally shows guidance to Ewan at times when dealing with his aunt so you don't think he is a total jerk. Unlike the supposed fiancée of Laura, Winston Hawkings; is only thinking of his self through out the book and his aspiration to have a political career. You can't help to do more than only dislike him as this was the way of thinking back in a time women were to seen - not heard. To never voice an opinion outside that of their male counterparts. Woman of gentle breeding was expected to marry up, volunteer in the right charities and be a follower. Unless in some cases far and few part, a mere girl was "allowed" to learn the family business like Laura who is strong, caring and more than capable to know and understand the skills that would be helpful to Ewan though out the book. Good for her for have a spine against the likes of Winston!! As I stated that this book has the ability to have to you sorting you feelings after turning that the page. I look forward not only to the next book in this series (which is written by Beyond All Dreams by Elizabeth Camden) but also that of Judith Miller. Thank you Judith for bringing us such wonderfully book. I would & a have recommended to others, including to my local library. I give this book a very solid 4.75 stars out of the normal 5 stars. I received this book in trade for my honest opinion from Bethany House.
This is the first book in the Refined by love series. Although it does come to its own end, you can see where many more books could be written about the characters within this novel. Ewan McKay is a Scotts-Irish, who has come to America with his Aunt and Uncle in hopes of a better life and a way to be able to bring his three sisters over. He knows the brick making business, yet dealing with his unhappy and controlling aunt and his gambling uncle may be more than he can handle. When decisions are made that are out of his control will his dream of being a partner in the business be over, and will he ever get his sisters to America? Ewan was not prepared for the beautiful daughter of the previous owner, with all the help she has given him, can he keep his heart away, when she is being courted by another. Laura Woodfield loves the Brickyard and all the happy memories she has shared there with her father. She only wants to see it prosper under a new owner. What can she do to help make this transition go smoothly when the new owner and his wife have opinions of their own. Can she keep everyone happy? What about Ewan, He seems so genuine and she knows she has feelings for him, yet she is being courted by a man her mother says is a match for her, especially given her secret. You will find characters in this book you love and some you loathe, some you may come to like and some you never will. There is bitterness, selfishness, disappointment, love and Christian values throughout this novel.
Friday, December 26, 2014 The Brickmaker's Bride by Judith Miller, © 2014 "... I do wish the buyers weren't Irish, but we've had no other offers." --Winston Hawkins, The Brickmaker's Bride, 11 Now, Mr. Hawkins' speculation may make this reviewer a little doubtful of his expertise.... Hopefully, Miss Laura Woodfield will not hold this regard! Ewan McKay has traveled from Ireland with his uncle, Hugh Crothers, to America, hearing of opportunities for immigrants and the desire to do better for his sisters. Deceiving humans is not difficult, but deceiving God is impossible. Only He knows the true heart. --The Brickmaker's Bride, 194 So sad to see a dissatisfied wife and a man who pries on the weaknesses of others, turning his own to dust. Ewan's aunt and uncle are not pleased with any assessment he might give them; neither in business nor in social life. He makes it clear to his aunt that she is not to meddle in affairs of the heart as far as he is concerned. As his uncle prowls around during the day, Ewan is busy securing the brickmaking occupations from previous workers and those newly arriving. Laura has come to help him get assimilated to the daily operations from the records of her father and assisting with the timekeeping. Mrs. Woodfield has introduced Ewan to previous contractors, and it is up to him to show the work C&M Brickyard is capable of producing for them and their new building projects. Always feeling he has the upper hand, Hugh doesn't bother to thoroughly read the contracts he signs. First his wife feels she has been demeaned to live in a hovel instead of the main house, and he leaves the brickyard in the lurch compromising the assets. A delight in the story is the arrival of Ewan's sweet sisters; oldest, Rose, and twins, Adaira and Ainslee. They are full of life and a lovely addition to the gloom Ewan must wade through with the antics of his "benefactors." I am eager for him to get out from under their control and influence. My favorite of all is Laura. She is demure and reflects power under control. Through trial and adversity strength is revealed. Trusting God, Laura and Ewan find unwavering faith brings them clear direction. I liked reading of Laura's volunteer classes at the orphanage. In the community, their right standing reveals the character of others around them. Mrs. Woodfield's training example is well followed. Truth and integrity play a big part in developing relationships from generations before them. It is uplifting to see and experience a return on investments of heart measures from long ago. As those who had been helped before offer a hand, expressions of hope and continuance blossom. I have read several of Judith Miller's novels, especially the Postcard from Pullman series, I really enjoyed. I like the history and research bringing their day to the forefront. We truly can learn from those before us and carry it on into the future. ***Thank you to Bethany House Book Reviewers for sending me a copy of Judith Miller's novel, The Brickmaker's Bride. This review was written in my own words. No other compensation was received.***
Historical Fiction set in West Virginia an enjoyable read... The Brickmaker’s Bride Refined by Love By Judith Miller The Woodfield Brickworks has been known for its quality and reliability. But with the death of the owner Isaiah Woodfield in the War between the States the brickyard has been idle, awaiting a new owner. When Hugh Crothers and his nephew Ewan McKay show an interest in purchasing her father's brickyard Laura Woodfield insists on meeting them. Ewan shows an understanding unlike his brusque and profit-seeking uncle. The sale of the brickyard sees Ewan seeking out Laura and her understanding of the workings of her father's brickyard. Laura is more than happy to offer her assistance in offering information and guidance on potential workers, contract contacts, and bookkeeping records. Where Hugh and especially his wife meet Laura's offered assistance with suspicion, Ewan accepts it with gratitude. But Hugh isn't the businessman he thinks himself to be and signs a contract that threatens to destroy the business that Ewan is struggling to build up. And it could displace all the workers who have been employed at the brickyard. Laura is determined to see Ewan and the brickyard succeed, but is there anything she can do to help? The Brickmaker's Bride is set in West Virginia shortly after the end of the Civil War. The Tygart Valley River region has been devastated by the war and is in a state of rebuilding. This is a world where a woman's place was to be found in the home as a wife and mother. And immigrants are meet with suspicion. This is an interesting and entertaining step back in time. We often consider this to be a simpler time, but when we take a longer look this is not so. This yet another delightful book from Judith Miller you'll want to take the time to enjoy. I was provided a copy of this book by Bethany House through their blogger program in exchange for my honest review.
As a fan of Judith Miller, I was looking forward to reading this book. It did not disappoint. The story takes place in West Virginia after the Civil War. During the Civil War, West Virginia broke away from Virginia and formed their own state, staying with the Union. Laura Woodfield has been accustomed to a privileged lifestyle as her father was a prosperous businessman, operating a brick factory. Additionally, he allowed her a role in the factory as bookkeeper, one which few women were able to fill. Now, her father has been killed in the war, the factory sits idle, and the family solicitor is urging them to sell. Along come a pair of recent Irish immigrants, Hugh McKay, whose money seems to have come from his long hours at the gaming tables and his nephew, Ewan McKay, who has knowledge of brickmaking. They wish to purchase the brickyard. In doing so, Hugh’s wife hopes to demand her place in high society. Ewan finds that he depends more and more both on Laura's advice to run the business and to rescue his heart. What happens with the newly operating brickyard faces disaster??? This was a fascinating book. The author did quite a bit of research on brickmaking in the 19th Century to include in the book. I have read many books on the Reconstruction period, but never one to include the art of brickmaking. The setting of West Virginia is a new landscape for most historical fiction as well. This was not your typical post Civil War novel. In received this book from Net Galley in exchange for my honest review.
After Laura's father dies, she and her mother need to sell his business. Their lawyer, who also happens to be courting Laura, facilitates the sale of the brickworks to new immigrants from Ireland. Ewan McKay and his uncle have come to America for a better life for themselves and their relatives. At first only Ewan and his Uncle Hugh, and Hugh's wife and sister in law arrive but soon they bring over Ewan's three younger sisters and a slew of others to work in the brickworks and to start a new life away from the famine and fighting in their homeland. Laura and her mother very much want to see the brickwork business continue to succeed and help get Ewan and Hugh up and going with the business which does not go over well with Winston, the lawyer currently courting her. He has political aspirations and will do anything to attain them. Eventually, of course, the time comes when Laura has to choose between the man her mother has chosen for her and the man her heart wants. It's a lot more complicated than that, however, as she says of her and Winston: "the thing that draws us together would be the very thing that would end a courtship for most couples." Whatever that may be, will it stand in the way of love? This 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.
Reading the back of this book alone made me want to pick it up. Everyone knows I’m a fan of historicals set around the Civil War period. This story opens shortly after the war, when folks were trying to start over, new states were forming, and progress was rapidly changing the face of the world around them. I liked Ewan and Laura’s characters and the dilemmas they each faced in their own unique walks of life. It was easy to like them and I was hoping for them to get together from the start. However, some of the other characters were so unlikeable that I had a hard time even reading some of the scenes that included them. I must admit I grew a little tired of their outright rude remarks and harsh attitudes. I kept waiting for those side characters to be redeemed and was left a little unsatisfied with them overall. The historical detail readers have come to expect from this beloved author is most certainly there, but I got a little lost in the facts from time to time. Read to learn and I think you’ll enjoy it. There is a lot of things I had never known about the brickmaking business before. It was an interesting perspective to spotlight. To me, the history came first and the love story, second. I’m not saying that’s all bad either. Just don’t expect the romance part to play the most prominent role. I enjoyed Ewan and Laura’s story, but I must say I wished to see more change and growth in their characters. Despite my couple disappointments with this novel, I have no doubt this series will be welcomed by historical fans everywhere. It offers a fresh world for readers to devour and the opportunity to see God work amazing things through difficult circumstances. This review is my honest opinion. Thanks to the publisher for my copy.
The Brickmaker’s Bride was a truly beautiful book. The story was so deep…. featuring so many different relationships. It really showed how a relationship you would have with one person could effect how you would relate to others. The book was just so full of characters and relationship dynamics. The relationship Laura had with her father growing up and helping at the brickyard office, and how it effected Laura through life. The relationship Laura and her mother had (both while her father was off to war, and also after he was killed), and how they both were trying to do what would bring the other happiness. The relationship Laura and Winston were trying to build (benefiting them each but not truly right). The relationship between Ewan and his sisters of love and support. The relationship Aunt Margaret seemed to foster with everyone around her, through threats, and guilt, and just plain meanness. The relationship… or non-relationship… each and every characters had with God. And of course, the relationship forged between Ewan and Laura… one of friendship and a growing attraction, respect, and love. I could keep listing relationships… but they all mainly went to show that how you treated others directly defined who you were as a person. I also loved the dedication that Laura and her mother gave to her father’s brickyard, his legacy to his family. Even though they had to sell… they still both wanted nothing more than to see the business continue to be a success and bring jobs and prosperity to all of the community. They were truly just good women. The overall moral of the story of paying forward kindnesses, or treating others as you would wish to be treated, was wound throughout the story. It really gave a great look at people behaving as good Christians, and also those not acting with the best values (some finding a better path… and some not quite making it there).
Judith Miller in her new book “The Brickmaker’s Bride” Book One in the Refined by Love series published by Bethany House Publishers takes us into the life of Ewan McKay. From the back cover: In the clay-rich hills of the newly founded state of West Virginia, two families tentatively come together to rebuild a war-torn brickmaking business. Ewan McKay has immigrated to West Virginia with his aunt and uncle, promising to trade his skills in the clay business for financial help. Uncle Hugh purchases a brickmaking operation from a Civil War widow and her daughter, and it’s Ewan’s job to get the company up and running again. Ewan seeks help from Laura, the former owner’s daughter, and he quickly feels a connection with her, but she’s being courted by another man–a lawyer with far more social clout and money than Ewan. Resolving that he’ll make the brickworks enough of a success that he can become a partner in the business and be able to afford to bring his sisters over from Ireland, Ewan pours all his energy into the new job. But when Hugh signs a bad business deal, all Ewan’s hard work is put in jeopardy. As his hopes for the future crumble, Laura reveals something surprising. Can she help him save the brickworks, and will Ewan finally get a shot at winning her heart? Brickmaking is an honorable profession that is even mentioned in The Bible. If you intend to build a nice house you need brick just ask Pharaoh. 1868 West Virginia a time of great sadness in The South as they suffer through The Reconstruction Period. Laura Woodfield’s mother wants to sell their brickyard and Ewan’s Uncle Hugh buys it. Ewan’s family are Irish immigrants and Ewan wants to bring his sisters over here as well so he really wants to make the brickyard a success. To accomplish that he needs Laura. I liked this story a lot. Great time period, great characters, good and bad, and great tension and conflict in the plot. Laura and Ewan are two of the best characters that I have read about in a long time. You fall in love with these two and you so want them to break free and embrace all that God has in store for them you just do not know how they can do it. That’s the beauty of the story watching to see how His plan for them unfolds. Great characters, great plot with plenty of twists and turns equals a great read. Disclosure of Material Connection: I received this book free from Litfuse Publicity Group. I was not required to write a positive review. The opinions I have expressed are my own. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s 16 CFR, Part 255: “Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising.”