The Brickmaker's Bride
By Judith Miller
Refined by Love, #1
Bethany House, 2014
Yearning for a fresh start, Ewan McKay travels with his aunt and uncle from northern Scotland to West Virginia, promising to trade his skills in the clay business for financial assistance from his uncle Hugh. Hugh purchases a brickmaking operation from a Civil War widow and her daughter, but it's Ewan who gets the business up and running again. Ewan seeks help from Laura, the former owner's daughter, and he feels a connection with her, but she's being courted by another man---a lawyer with far more social clout and money than Ewan. Besides, Ewan has resolved he'll focus on making the brickmaking operation enough of a success that he can become a partner in the business and be able to afford to bring his sisters over from Scotland.
But when Hugh signs a bad business deal, all Ewan's hard work may come to naught. As his plans begin to crumble, Laura reveals something surprising. She and her mother may have a way to save the brickworks, and in turn Ewan may have another shot at winning Laura's heart.
When it comes to historical fiction, you can always count on Judith Miller not only for meticulous research, but to be transported into an interesting era or situation. The Brickmaker's Bride, book #1 in the Refined by Love series, takes the reader to the Reconstruction era in West Virginia, 1868, and to the world of brickmaking. Greed, social climbing, political drive, addiction and unforgiveness are there - but we also see honesty, integrity, caring for and helping others.
I particularly enjoyed two aspects of this story. First, I knew nothing about the business of brickmaking and found that part interesting. It wasn't a simple process; much knowledge, care, attention to detail, and hard work was required. Sometimes the descriptions slowed the action down, but still contributed greatly to the story.
Secondly, I liked that the characters were well drawn and in no way perfect. Ewan McKay, a Scots-Irishman, makes a great leading man. He is kind, generous, and believes in doing the right thing and keeping his word. He has a deep love of family, working hard to bring his three sisters over from Ireland, and has a strong faith. But the characters being imperfect almost became a negative for me, because many of them were absolutely unlikeable. Ewan's uncle Hugh was greedy, addicted to gambling, made poor business decisions, and was slow to keep his promises - and I could hardly stand to read the scenes involving his wife. Winston was controlling and unkind, and even Laura's mother constantly pushed her into a relationship with Winston. Yet all of this made for interesting reading.
I really liked the way spiritual themes were gently woven into the story, like being patient and waiting on God's timing, not judging a person's relationship with God. But my favorite message was that of helping others in the same way as we have been helped, a theme that is seen more than once.
I enjoyed The Brickmaker's Bride overall and would like to see more from these characters. Book #2 in this series, The Potter’s Lady, will follow one of Ewan's sisters, Rose McKay, as the family moves to Grafton, West Virginia. Recommended to those who enjoy historical fiction.
Judith Miller is an award-winning author whose avid research and love for history are reflected in her bestselling novels. When time permits, Judy enjoys traveling, visiting historical settings, and scrapbooking the photographs from her travel expeditions. She makes her home in Topeka, Kansas.
Meet Judith online at judithmccoymiller.com, Facebook, and Twitter. You can also visit the Litfuse blog tour page for more information.
Thank you to Litfuse Publicity for providing a copy of this book in exchange for my honest review.