Wendy the Super Librarian‘s review of A Convenient Christmas Wedding (Frontier Bachelors, Book 5) by Regina Scott
Inspirational Historical Romance published by Love Inspired Historical 01 Nov 16
For readers looking for a feel-good, cozy holiday read, Regina Scott’s latest entry in her Frontier Bachelors series should do the trick. Using the tried-and-true marriage of convenience theme, this is the sort of book you can crack open on Christmas Eve, lose yourself for a few hours, but not get wound up by a pile of angst that will keep you up all night. It’s a pleasant read, and fits well in the Love Inspired Historical line, but it could have used just a teeny bit of added bite to make it truly memorable.
When her parents died Nora Underhill went to live with her older brother and sour wife – an arrangement that had her looking for escape the moment she crossed their threshold. Even though she has a hard time standing up to them, she somehow finds the gumption to board a “bride ship” bound for Seattle. Nora doesn’t find marriage, but she soon finds work as a seamstress and life is good. Until she gets word that her brother and his wife are moving to Seattle and, of course, they expect her to live with them. Desperate to not fall back into their clutches, she proposes a marriage of convenience to the thunderstruck Simon Wallin.
Two of Simon’s brothers found wives thanks to the “bride ship,” and with their growing family living out in the wilderness, the ever practical Simon knows they need more land. That’s Nora’s bargain. Marry her, save her from a stifling life with her brother, and Simon can claim a parcel of land in his new wife’s name. It’s hardly a love match, and the two even plan to live apart. Simon is practical to the point of bordering on cynical, so the arrangement suits him just fine – plus he gets more land for his family. And it’s all going according to plan until Nora’s brother shows up and the two find themselves having to live truly as man and wife.
As tends to happen in stories like this, Nora’s sweet ways end up breaking through Simon’s tough exterior. She takes in a lame cow. She gets a dog. She makes costumes for the school Christmas play. Simon tries to stay stoic and distant and, naturally, fails miserably. Nora wants a real, loving family and finds one in the Wallin clan, although continues to hope that one day, just maybe, Simon will learn to love her just as she’s coming to fall in love with him.
This all sounds cozy and sweet, and generally it is. The problem is that the conflict lacks any sort of bite (even a nibble) and there’s little tension between a couple who is already married. Simon feels like his family doesn’t understand him, but the only picture painted of the Wallin clan is big, boisterous and loving. Simon feeling inferior or “unloved” just doesn’t ring true with the picture of the family painted within these pages. Also, I know this is an inspirational. I get it. There’s not going to be screaming, hanging-from-the-chandelier, hot monkey sex. And I didn’t expect it. But I do expect romantic couples to exhibit some sort of tension (chemistry, if you will) with each other – and Simon and Nora are already married (surely God would not be offended). These are nice people, but that’s about it. They’re nice. There was no anticipation of “OMG when are they going to kiss already?!?!?!” or even hoping for a closed-door love scene. They’re just….nice.
None of this will likely make any bit of difference to fans of the series. Even though this is the fifth in a series, this book does stand alone well and undoubtedly readers of the first four books are anxiously awaiting a return visit to the Wallin family. If you’re looking for a sweet, uncomplicated Christmas read, this one will likely deliver. However, being somewhat cynical like Simon, I wanted a little more oomph.
The Marriage Agreement
Proposing a marriage of convenience to a rugged logger is the boldest move of Nora Underhill’s sheltered life. In return for Simon Wallin’s protection from her overbearing family, the unassuming seamstress offers prime frontier farmland. But their paper marriage changes when Nora’s greedy brother tries to draw her back into a life of drudgery. Her only option: move to Simon’s farm, and into the center of his loving, unruly family.
Years of shouldering responsibility have left Simon cynical and reserved. But little by little, Nora’s warmth opens his shuttered heart to joy. With their marriage claim under threat, can this practical arrangement blossom over the holidays…and become a love for all seasons?
Other books in this series: