A Bride for Keeps
Julia Lockwood arrives in 1876 Kansas, a mail-order bride arrangement promoted by Everett Cline’s neighbor, Rachel. Julia doesn’t know that this is Everett’s fourth attempt to find a bride. He is wary that such a beautiful woman will abandon him for another man. And Julia is closed-mouthed about her past as well, afraid Everett will hurt her as other men have. But since Everett is desperate for help on the farm and Julia has nowhere else to go, they agree to a platonic relationship. The story strays perilously close to what James Blish called an “idiot plot,” where the characters are kept from key information that would resolve the conflict. Julia and Everett could have confessed their pasts to each other midway through the book and then been shown adjusting to their new knowledge. Instead, their misunderstanding of each other’s motives goes on far too long. There’s not enough detail on Julia’s backstory to make her a sympathetic character. The members of Rachel’s family, even as secondary characters, are more engaging than the central couple. The book has generated good reviews on various websites, but I’m afraid I can’t agree with them. Jagears’ novel has potential but needs revision to make it memorable.