Monday, July 14, 2014

Review: A Noble Groom by Jody Hedlund

Book Cover and Synopsis:
Recently widowed Annalisa Werner has the feeling her husband was murdered but can't prove it. Alone with her young daughter in 1881 Michigan, she has six months left to finish raising the money needed to pay back the land contract her husband purchased, and the land is difficult to toil by herself. She needs a husband. With unmarried men scarce, her father sends a letter to his brother in the Old Country, asking him to find Annalisa a groom. 

For nobleman Carl von Reichert, the blade of the guillotine is his fate. He's been accused and convicted of a serious crime he didn't commit, and his only escape is to flee to a small German community in Michigan where he'll be safe. He secures a job on Annalisa's farm but bumbles through learning about farming and manual labor. 

Annalisa senses that Karl is harboring a secret about his past, yet she finds herself drawn to him anyway. He's gentle, kind, and romantic--unlike any of the men she's ever known. He begins to restore her faith in the ability to love--but her true groom is still on his way. And time is running out on them all.

My source for book: Local Library
My Thoughts:
A Noble Groom offers a nice twist on the traditional mail-order-spouse plot in that Annalisa's father essentially orders her a groom, but while waiting for the groom to arrive she develops feelings for someone else. Something that really intrigued me was the fact that Annalisa didn't have any experience with romance, flirting, or even kissing, despite the fact that she was widowed and had children. It was interesting to see her experience these things for the first time at her stage in life. Her reactions and thoughts seemed very realistic, especially considering her upbringing and the strict traditions of her community.

I enjoyed Carl's personality and the way he was able to make light of many situations. I loved how his playful and jokey comments were such a stark contrast to the serious manner of most everyone else! His views on women and relationships were also wildly different from the commonly accepted ones, but again, the contrast was great--especially considering that Carl was ultimately right. It's rare to find such a playful guy in fiction of this time period, but it was good. Very good.

Though I really did enjoy the story, I have to admit that I struggled with the first two chapters. They seemed very slow, with lots of unknown German words sprinkled in the dialogue and some political background that I had trouble following. I actually considered abandoning it, but thankfully I pressed on and soon found myself absorbed in the story as things quickly picked up. Maybe it was just me, I don't know... but regardless, it's definitely worth pushing through the first couple of chapters, as my overall 5 star rating shows!

The ending wasn't as concrete as I expected, but the large issues were all ultimately resolved. It actually struck me as being somewhat bittersweet--much like real life often is--but I was left with a mostly hopeful outlook for the characters' futures. Despite the first two chapters that I struggled with, I'm ultimately glad to have read the story. There's a lot of positive reviews out there for this one, and there's good reason for it. It's a great story, and fans of the genre won't want to miss it!

My Rating: 5 stars

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