Friday, October 25, 2013

Review: Perfectly Matched

Perfectly Matched (Blue Willow Brides - Book 3) by Maggie Brendan

Publication Date: 10/01/2013
Publisher: Baker Publishing Group
Imprint: Revell Books
Genre: Christian/Inspirational Historical Romance
Pages: 352
ISBN-10: 0800734645
ISBN-13: 978-0800734640

(Received for an honest review from Revell Books)

Purchase: Amazon, Barnes & Noble, ChristianBook, IndieBound

Maggie Brendan on the WEB: Website, Blog, Twitter, Facebook, Goodreads

Books in the series:

Deeply Devoted (2011), Twice Promised (2012), Perfectly Matched (2013)

Coverart: Click the image for a larger, clearer view of the covers in this series.



Excerpt from Perfectly Matched, courtesy of Amazon's Look Inside feature.

Synopsis:

Anna Olsen knows it's time to leave her sister's increasingly crowded house and start a life of her own. Following her sisters' examples, she becomes a mail-order bride, and after a short correspondence with clock maker and jeweler Edward Parker, she moves to Denver to become his wife. Almost immediately it's painfully apparent that Anna and Edward are very different. Anna is a free spirit who would rather be painting and enjoying the company of friends than cleaning house. Edward is a consummate perfectionist who, on their wedding day, hands Anna a list of chores that need to be done around the house daily.

Can this mismatched couple see past their differences to a harmonious future? Or will their disparate passions create obstacles neither is willing to surmount?

Maggie Brendan closes her Blue Willow Brides series with a heartwarming tale of true love despite misunderstanding, showing readers that God's timing is always perfect.


Thoughts:

Maggie Brendan's third and final installment in The Blue Willow Brides series, Perfectly Matched, again takes up the idea of mail order brides in the old west. Set in Denver, Colorado in 1888, readers are treated to a storyline that centers around the marriage of an impressionable young woman, who is anything but organized to man whose life is completely ordered and precise. The obstacles between the hero and heroine take up a great portion of the book, as they learn to embrace their differences and accept each other for who they are. Brendan also explores the mistreatment of animals as the heroine starts to set up her own animal shelter. Both aspects of this book combine to make it a unique and interesting addition to the series. 

The Blue Willow Brides series has followed the lives of three sisters, all of whom, have become mail order brides. I have always thought that mail order brides was a interesting premise for a novel, having read, Sarah, Plain and Tall when I was younger. Brendan has taken this idea and really ran with it. I like the fact that Brendan chose to put the marriage of Edward and Anna in the beginning of Perfectly Matched because there is a kind of finality to that, since both are Christians. They are going to have to figure out a way for this to work. Brendan shows readers all of the difficulties involved in this kind of union. The couples barely know each other, they have only corresponded by mail and in those days, that was not a speedy process. They are going into the marriage blind. Unfortunately, I still think that happens today. I liked the fact that Brendan gives readers the historical significance of mail order marriages, as well as, the emotional significance. 

Anna was certainly a free-spirited young woman. She was not accustomed to running a household and had her own ideas about how it should be done. She would rather have spent her time on other passions as opposed to cleaning house. I loved the way she respected animals and wanted to stop the mistreatment she encounters. Her dream of setting up an animal shelter is one that resonated with me, because I am an animal lover myself. I think readers who love animals will really identify with this character and her struggles. Anna was very different from Edward. She was more spontaneous and had a zeal for life that was missing with Edward. She was a wonderful character and Brendan did an excellent job of showing how she begins to learn compromise and how to accept Edward for who he is.

Edward, Edward, Edward... There is so much to say about this character. I admit to having a hard time getting into him as the hero of the book. He is a clockmaker and jeweler. His life is order and somewhat obsessive compulsive. He wants things to have a place and everything has to be in it's place. He wants his household run a certain way without exception. He is the complete opposite of Anna. He doesn't like the animals because of the hair and messes they make and he doesn't understand a lot of Anna's ways. But the redeeming quality about Edward is that he is determined to make this marriage a success. Even though they are so fundamentally different he wants to show Anna every kindness he can. He may not like her ideas about the animal shelter but he doesn't hinder her and eventually he comes around. I liked the fact that both characters had their flaws and Brendan was able to show readers an underlying theme of compromise and making a marriage work despite the obstacles that come up.

Overall I think Brendan's attempt to show that marriage is more than just giving it a try was very successful. It is a commitment that both people make to each other and to God. I think in today's society we give up way to easily. I'm not saying that there are not times when circumstances make it impossible for couples to stay together, but for the most part, people are going into marriage with the idea that if it doesn't work out, they'll just move on to the next one. Brendan is showing a couple who are so very different yet they are able to compromise and come together to make their marriage work. I liked the fact that eventually these two find common ground and a deep love for each other. 

This one may not have been my favorite in the series, but I liked it a lot. There were two different themes at work her and Brendan approaches both of them with gusto. The relationship between Anna and Edward is paramount to the story, but the animal shelter theme is also important to the book as well. Though this book was technically a romance there is a lot more going on here. Some readers will enjoy that, while others will not. All in all I would say this was a successful ending to a very enjoyable series about mail order brides and finding love against the odds.

Available October 2013 at your favorite bookseller, from Revell, a division of Baker Publishing Group.

I'm giving this one 4 out of 5 apples from my book bag!



About the Author:

Maggie Brendan is the bestselling author of several books, including the Heart of the West series and The Blue Willow Brides series. She was a 2013 finalist for the Published Maggie Award of Excellence, a 2013 finalist for the Heart of Excellence Readers' Choice Award, a 2012 finalist for Inspirational Reader's Choice award, and a recipient of the 2004 ACW Persistence Award in Atlanta. She is a member of the ACFW; Author's Guild; Romance Writers of America; Faith, Hope, and Love; and Georgia Romance Writers. When she's not writing, she enjoys reading, researching for her novels, and spending time with her family. You can follow her at her website www.MaggieBrendan.com, her blog www.SouthernBelleWriter.blogspot.com, and on Facebook and Twitter @MaggieBrendan.


Giveaway Details:

I just happened to luck into finding a great website that gives away Christian and Inspiration books from some of the big Christian fiction publishers like Revell Books and Bethany House. The site is called The Book Club Network. You have to be a member to participate in the giveaways but it is well worth your time to check it out. It is free, you just have to go through a registration process. They are giving away 5 copies of Perfectly Matched directly from the publisher right now and several other really great giveaways. So go check it out!

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