The Chapel Car Bride

Written by Judith Miller
Review by B. J. Sedlock

Hope Irvine joins her preacher father on a railroad chapel car, which brings church services to remote towns like Finch, West Virginia in 1913. Some people in Finch are eager for church services, yet others are suspicious. Fortunately, Luke Hughes is attracted to Hope and acts as their guide. He explains that outsiders take jobs away from locals, or might be spies for the government looking for moonshine stills, which the poor miners need to supplement their income.

Kirby Finch arrives, exiled by his mine-owner father as punishment for gambling. Always money-hungry, Kirby joins forces with a moonshiner and begins selling the whiskey. He covers his deliveries by giving rides in his truck to Hope, who distribute Bibles in nearby settlements. Luke grows suspicious of Kirby’s intentions towards Hope, and sets out to find evidence that Kirby is up to no good.

It was interesting to learn about chapel cars, which I hadn’t encountered before this book. Luke and Hope are likeable characters, though the romantic scenes are scanty. Miller removes a character at a critical time, and then nothing further is heard of him, making the ending rather flat, almost unfinished. If it weren’t for that, I’d recommend the book.