A Reluctant Bride is the first book in Jody Hedlund‘s The Bride Ships series. After reading book two, The Runaway Bride, which was my first introduction to Jody Hedlund and one of my favorite books of 2020, I knew I had to read book one.

A Reluctant Bride takes place on the bride ship that brings a group of women to the western shores of Canada in order to boost the female population located there. Mercy Wilkins must chose between the work house where she will likely watch her sister die or the last spot on the Tynemouth, with will force her to leave all she knows behind, but might allow her to save her sister. Mercy chooses the later, but when she learns it’s a bride ship, she nearly turns around. Marriage and children is the last thing she wants in life.

Dr. Joseph Colville doesn’t want his privileged life, so he spends it as a doctor aboard various vessels, traveling the world over. Whether he’s running away or just seeking adventure, is for the book to tell. He’s met Mercy once before and witnessed her reputation as someone who cares sacrificially for those around her. So, when he is need of a woman’s help with female patients, Mercy is the only one Joseph wants turns to, no matter what the upper class passengers think of the idea.

I loved A Reluctant Bride. Mercy had a difficult life, yet she always thought of others before herself. I struggled with how Mercy dragged out the ending of the story, but as the author mentioned in the notes at the conclusion of the book, Mercy’s station in life, her poverty, left her with one view of herself. It would take a great deal to overcome that which had been ingrained in her from birth.

My favorite parts of the story all happened on board the Tynemouth. Like watching Mercy and Joseph interact as they cared for the passengers. Mercy seems like she would be an incredible friend to have and Joseph just might agree. You’ll have to read the book to find out.

I borrowed this book from the library. I was not required to write a positive review. The opinions I have expressed are my own. 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.”