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 Reichart, 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 Carl 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.
"Historical romance" and terms like "complexity" and "depth" don't usually go together, but A Noble Groom is a delightful exception. It's a wonderful romance, but with the addition of rich characterization, history, and solid writing.
Jody creates a reverse twist on the mail-order bride plot by putting Annalisa - a young, struggling widow - into a proposed arranged marriage with a family member from the Old Country. But instead of the family relation, Carl arrives and is at first mistaken for the groom. And thus the fun begins!
Life was extremely hard for these immigrant farmers, as they often faced hunger, disease, and discrimination - but if they succeeded, the result was ownership of their own land. It was hard to see how women were treated in this German community, for laws from the Old Country were brought with them - laws which permitted men to discipline their wives as they saw fit. Marriages were "a practical partnership, a coming together for survival and for having children. Love, mutual affection, even attraction - those emotions were reserved for stories . . . Annalisa had learned that not even happiness was a guarantee. Misery, frustration, anger had been her constant companion."
One of this novel's strengths is the characterization of Carl and Annalisa, not to mention the chemistry between them. Carl, who initially thought America was a home for unhappy peasants and poor dissidents, was full of arrogance and pride: "He wasn't meant for the life of a common laborer. He was destined for greater accomplishments, for better things, for the noble life to which he'd been born." And he responded to difficult situations by running away. Annalisa, the widow of a peasant farmer, felt she could never measure up - not as a daughter, a wife, or even an American. And she felt insignificant and unimportant to God. It is enjoyable to watch Carl and Annalisa change, both spiritually and emotionally, as the story unfolds.
Carl ranks among my favorite heroes in Christian fiction. I like male leads who are kind, self-sacrificing, tender, and have a sense of humor - and this certainly describes Carl. He was a flawed character, but from the beginning, he treated Annalisa with kindness and respect, worked hard to help save her farm, and I delighted in the way he interacted with her daughter, Gretchen.
I can't leave without saying how much I love the cover of this book! Kudos to Bethany House for choosing to feature the male lead with such a great shot.
A Noble Groom gives us a happily-ever-after ending that is still bittersweet in some aspects, and I liked that about it. I wish the ending had been a little longer - maybe less words elsewhere and room for more at the end. There are enough characters and unfinished storylines to allow for a sequel, which I very much hope for: Annalisa's sister, father, Dirk, Carl's family in Germany, and more from Carl and Annalisa, of course!
Reading A Noble Groom was pure enjoyment and I highly recommend it to those who enjoy inspirational fiction.
To learn more about Jody Hedlund and her books, visit . . .
Jody's website - jodyhedlund.com
Discussions questions - http://bit.ly/15pw2XN
Pinterest board for A Noble Groom - http://bit.ly/19u0van
This book was provided by Bethany House in exchange for my honest review.