Thursday, March 5, 2020

Review: "The Runaway Bride" by Jody Hedlund

After reading the first book in Jody Hedlund's Bride Ships series last year, I've been eagerly awaiting book two, and it's finally here!

(Fortunately for me, in the intervening time, Hedlund published an entire YA series, so I wasn't completely without her books!)

Wealthy Arabella Lawrence flees to British Columbia on a bride ship still wearing the scars of past mistakes. One of the few single women in the boomtown, she immediately has suitors, but she is determined not to find herself trapped again by a poor choice.

Vying for her hand are two very different men. Lieutenant Richard Drummond is a gentleman in the Navy and is held in high esteem. Peter Kelly is the town's baker and has worked hard to build a thriving business. He and Drummond not only compete for Arabella's affections, but clash over their views of how the natives should be treated in the midst of a smallpox outbreak.

As Arabella begins to overcome her fears, she discovers someone in dire need—a starving girl abandoned by her tribe. Intent on helping the girl, Arabella leans on Peter's advice and guidance. Will she have the wisdom to make the right decision or will seeking what's right cost both her and Peter everything?

Wow, what a romance! First, let's get this out of the way: while this is book two in the series, it absolutely can be read as a stand-alone novel. Main character Arabella appeared in A Reluctant Bride, and that novel's main character Mercy appears here. But this novel is largely set in the time that passes at the very end of A Reluctant Bride—after the Tynemouth arrives in Victoria and before Mercy and Joseph set their wedding date. While The Runaway Bride is a continuation of the story begun in A Reluctant Bride, you don't need to know about the events from that novel to understand this one.

I absolutely loved Arabella and Pete's story! Arabella did drive me a little crazy at first with her insistence that she needed to marry someone of a certain class when it was so obvious that she belonged with Pete. However, as more of her story was revealed, I could begin to understand her perspective—especially as I paused to consider what I might do in her situation. Her vacillation did go on a touch too long for me, though. But Pete? Pete I loved from the first moment he appeared on the page. Yes, he was a little impulsive and overconfident, but he was also so endearing—it wasn't hard to see why Arabella was attracted to him!

Full of lovable (and loath-able) characters, a truly swoon-worthy romance, and subplots that highlight the difficulty native people faced once the British colonized British Columbia, The Runaway Bride is a book not to be missed! Fans of romance and historical fiction will find much to love here. 4-1/2 stars.

Buy the book (affiliate link).
Read my reviews of A Reluctant Bride (5 stars) other Jody Hedlund novels.

Jody Hedlund is the award-winning author of multiple novels, including the Beacons of Hope and Orphan Train series, as well as Captured by Love and Rebellious Heart. She holds a bachelor's degree from Taylor University and a master's degree from the University of Wisconsin, both in social work. Jody lives in Michigan with her husband and five children. Learn more at

Disclosure of Material Connection: I received this book free for review from the publisher. I was not required to write a positive review. The opinions I have expressed are my own. Also, some of the links in this post are affiliate links; this means if you click the link and purchase an item, I will receive a small commission. 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."

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