Karen Witemeyer again writes another marvelous story in her novel, Short Straw Bride. It is sweet, funny, and God honoring. And while not everyone can relate well to the specific situations - shotgun wedding, secluding oneself to one's own property, unwilling kidnapped bride - there is still plenty in this story that speaks to the modern reader, making it more than just an enjoyable novel.
Witemeyer portrays the courtship after the ceremony well, especially the
tension of when Meri and Travis are both wanting things to change, but
are still shy and uncertain how to go about it. However, God has things in control, and He uses a
miserable circumstance to push them together. While shotgun or arranged
marriages are not common in the US anymore, similar situations still occur today: not all couples have the traditional "wedding night". Growing up in a Christian home, modesty, abstinence, and self-control are often expected. When one marries, breaking twenty-some years of habit is actually rather difficult - top it off with the stress of the wedding, no matter how simple or how well things go, it can be a very nerve-wracking evening. However, when the groom offers to spend the night celibate to just get used to being in the same room overnight (let alone the same bed!) it's an act of true love. Sometimes, though, no matter how much they love each other, it takes a while before both bride and groom are comfortable enough with each other as spouses to consummate the marriage. (Note: many couples are quite ready to to be fully married right away that first night, which is quite a blessing too!)
I found I could connect with Travis' plight when Meri challenges him to break down the walls he built and go out into to the world. When he was younger, God's word spoke wisdom through Proverbs 27:12: "A prudent man foreseeth evil, and hideth himself." It was confirmation to stick to the land and keep away from those who would cause them trouble. However, now that they are all adults capable of surviving the world of men, God's message to him has changed - "forsake not thy neighbor." God's word is living and active - just because today He says to do this, it doesn't mean tomorrow He won't change one's path and have one do something else. I know that I have said, "But God, I know you have said that I should . . . " and yet He often responds, "Yes, at that time that is what you needed; now you are ready to move beyond it to something new." Sometimes it is easy, but other times it can be a real challenge to step out of one's comfort zone and go where He wants one to go.
For the spectacular sequel, see Stealing the Preacher