Runaway Bride (The Bride Ships)

Written by Jody Hedlund
Review by Janice Derr

In 1862, Arabella boards a bride ship to British Columbia to escape the attentions of a brutal man. She wants to put the past behind her and begin a new life as a wife and mother, but she finds it hard to trust again and fears making a bad decision. Shortly after her ship lands, she catches the eye of two men, the local baker, Peter, and Navy Lieutenant Richard Drummond. Peter is charming and persistent but has a reputation for getting into trouble with the law. Richard is socially the better choice but isn’t as charismatic or exciting. Arabella faces choosing with her heart or her head. While biding for more time to make her decision, she comes across a Native American girl orphaned when her tribe is devastated by a smallpox outbreak. Despite some of the town members’ disapproval, Arabella is unwilling to abandon the child and finds herself in a potentially dangerous situation.

The Runaway Bride is Hedlund’s second book in The Bride Ships series. The books are connected by the theme of bride ships rather than by characters, so the reader can jump into the series anywhere. It is an inspirational romance, so while there is ample sexual chemistry between Arabella and Peter, things remain relatively chaste. The book’s inspirational aspect is also evident in the struggles the main characters have had in their past and their path to understanding God’s plans for their future. It’s not merely a romance, as the tension between the settlers and their Native American neighbors provides plenty of dramatic action. I found this book a real page-turner and look forward to checking out the other books in the series.