Monday, June 18, 2012

Book Review: Short-Straw Bride

Author: Karen Witemeyer
Publication Date: June 1, 2012
Publisher: Bethany House

No one steps on Archer land. Not if they value their life. But when Meredith Hayes overhears a lethal plot to burn the Archer brothers off their ranch, a twelve-year-old debt compels her to take the risk.

Fourteen years of constant vigilance hardens a man. Yet when Travis Archer confronts a female trespasser with the same vivid blue eyes as the courageous young girl he once aided, he can't bring himself to send her away. And when an act of sacrifice leaves her injured and her reputation in shreds, gratitude and guilt send him riding to her rescue once again.

Four brothers. Four straws. One bride. Despite the fact that Travis is no longer the gallant youth Meredith once dreamed about, she determines to stand by his side against the enemy that threatens them both. But will love ever be hers? Or will Travis always see her merely as a short-straw bride?

I have always said that I was born in the wrong era or time period. I believe that the Wild West would have suited me just fine. I was made for corsets and huge skirts as crazy as that sounds. I have so much respect for women of that time and place and that is one thing that drew me to this book. I love western stories. The man and woman on the front cover just look so cozy and sweet and I love how the name of the book is tied into the picture on the cover! I think it is so eye-catching when that happens!

Our story starts in Palestine, Texas with a lovely character named Meredith Hayes. Her story immediately drops us into her life and allows us to unravel one of her most cherished secrets; her love for Travis Archer. We soon learn that Meredith is being compromised for marriage to a man who only wants her for her inherited land. Meredith also hears the dreaded man discussing a plan to burn Archer land in order to try and “convince” the four Archer brothers to sell. She immediately takes off for the Archer’s farm in order to warn Travis and his brothers about the dangers to come.

Meredith’s life takes a whole different turn here. She has stained her reputation by putting herself in this situation and it does not look good to the inner community that Meredith was found in the company of four grown men. In order to protect her purity, Meredith must marry one of them. From here I do not want to spoil anymore of the story for you all.

Meredith is at first portrayed to be young and caught up in her feelings for Travis Archer. Meredith proves everyone wrong, even I, who did have hesitations and worries about her at first. In a time of distress and animosity Meredith proves herself in coming to the Archers’ aid. She even thinks such thoughts to herself as this one, “She was smart and strong and capable, and any man who thought different needed his opinion adjusted” (58). I love it! She completely surprised me with all the sass she brought to the table. This is a Christian Historical fiction book and the references to the Bible and to God are very personable and enduring. Some of Meredith’s trials and tribulations become very heart wrenching, but her comfort in God is something that she depends on daily.   

The four Archer brothers could, by themselves, make a fabulous story. I love stories that include different numbers on siblings because each one is different and they each bring a different spice to the spice rack. The Archer’s are described by Meredith here, “Watching the Archer brothers eat was like watching a twister blow thorough the room. Meredith sat with her elbows tucked close to her side, afraid to do more than occasionally raise her fork to her mouth for fear of being rammed by a reaching arm or thumped by a tossed biscuit” (56). The brothers are a little less refined when it comes to how to act in front of a lady and it takes them time to adjust to a new woman being in their midst. I love seeing each of them open up to here and accept her in a way that is so acknowledgeable, especially on the part of four grown men!

This book was so brilliantly written because there is not just one conflict but another conflict will spin off of the first and so on. The characters faced many obstacles and I believe that this is great way to see each of them grow. The book was action packed and never let you sit still in the Archer home for long. They were constantly avoiding some type of threatening danger and together they faced anything. By the end of the book their bond as a family is truly the strongest and they are more trusting and understanding of one another. I wish that Karen would write a story for each of the four brothers! Maybe I should suggest that (:

***A copy of this book was provided to me by Bethany House Publishers in exchange for my honest opinion***

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