The second novel by Melissa Jagears, A Bride in Store, two separate dreams are given a chance to unite in love. After her train is held up, Eliza Cantrell arrives in town penniless, and her groom isn't even there to help her. William Stanton, her groom's business partner, takes her under wing until Axel gets home again, whenever that will be, but Eliza proves much better at running a store than William ever will be. His dream has always been to be a doctor, but funds for school are slim. Working all day with Eliza, William finds himself falling for the practical woman, but he won't steal another man's bride, no matter how much he likes her and she seems to like him back. Besides, her dream of running a store doesn't fit at all with his of being a doctor. When Axel comes back to town, will they go their separate ways, or does God have a different plan in mind?
William is a marvelous hero - passionate yet restrained, compassionate yet able to stand up and fight. Even if he has the business sense of a rock, his sense of honor and ability to flee temptation, however hard it may be, make him all the more dashing. I had a harder time connecting with Eliza; she is a very practical, efficient person, and business has always been her life. She comes far by the end of the story - tempering her business acumen with compassion and thinking of others instead of just herself. However, like all couples should be, William and Eliza are better together than separate.
William struggles with fighting for his dream. He doesn't have enough money, he doesn't have enough knowledge, he hasn't studied enough, people have died under his watch when he could have - should have - done more. His conclusion is that he shouldn't be a doctor. But everyone trusts him, comes to him for doctoring, and believes he is meant to be a doctor. And in his heart of hearts, he knows he wants to be one and always has. Sometimes you just have to trust God and go for it, not listen to all the lies the devil throws your way.
Jagears writes an in-depth story with a well-laid plot. The relationships between her characters are strongly developed, and you know that if these were real people, they would be among those with the most successful marriages. Compassion, hope, and sacrifice all play a role in their journey, creating a strong, heart-warming bond.
Thank you Bethany House for providing a free book in exchange for review; I was not required to make it positive, and all opinions are my own.
1. A Bride for Keeps
2. A Bride in Store
3. A Bride at Last