The Bartered Bride Romance Collection: 9 Historical Stories of Arranged Marriages

The Bartered Bride Romance Collection: 9 Historical Stories of Arranged Marriages - Cathy Marie Hake, JoAnn A. Grote, Kelly Eileen Hake, Amy Rognlie Joie De Vivre © 2006 by Lynette Sowell
1819 Louisiana
Edouard LeBlanc is a scarred faced hero with a bad leg who lives the live of a hermit in his family’s land. Josee Broussard is an orphan taking in and raised by Edouard’s family. LeBlanc senior arranges their marriage.

Lately, I have been a big fan for MOC themes. However, throughout the whole story, the author tries to impress us with her knowledge of French. Yes, I got it; hero and heroine were Acadians, kind of outsiders in Louisiana. For me the sprinkling of a French word here and there was disruptive and did not add to the story. I did not hate the story, it just did not matter to me at all.

Button Strong Bride © 2001 by Cathy Marie Hake
Ethan Cole our hero is a widower and he is traveling to Oregon with his two children. Originally, he had set out with his sister but she turned around when the going got tough. Charity Davis’s family is well off, she has been raised a lady. It is not quite clear why her family is going west but her parents die early in the voyage and though, she tries to keep up, it is impossible for her. The wagon master declares that Ethan and Charity have to join their wagons or left behind at the next stop. Ethan is a simple man and at first things himself not worthy of a lady. Charity is sweet but naïve. The story is beautifully written and was one of my favorites.

The Wedding Wagon © 2002 by Cathy Marie Hake
Hero Dr. Joshua Rogers quickly fell for Bethany Handley, his sister Penny’s friend, after she spent a Christmas with them. Penny and Bethany met a school for young ladies, presumably a finishing school. Bethany is an orphan and she sees Penny as her sister. The story focuses on how two young people, who barely know each other, make their marriage work. Joshua learns not to assume but ask and Bethany learns that she can’t please everyone and that she has to make her husband a priority.

The next four stories are all connected. Originally part of the Barbour Novella, Bride for a Bit

From Halter to Altar © 2003 by Cathy Marie Hake
A spelling mistake or rather misunderstanding is at the heart of the next four stories. Ellis Stack, the weasel brother-in-law of our four heroines sent them west to Lickwind to get them off his hands and his hands on their inheritance. Matilda, the oldest and James Collingswood are the hero and heroine of the first story. James feels responsible for the four sisters but he does not want them on his ranch or in Lickwind. He believes he knows what is best and that life on a ranch is not for ladies. His own mother has high-tailed it back east after being widowed and several other ladies who had come out west have died due to harsh conditions. Mathilda shows him that not all ladies are weak, spoilt and incapable.

From Carriage to Marriage © 2003 by Janelle Burnham Schneider
The second story centers around James’s younger brother Luke Collingswood and Corrie Craig, Mathilda’s younger sister. Corrie is a widow and heavily pregnant. Luke falls in love immediately and tries to be her friend, all the while believing that his brother had a point when saying ladies would not thrive in Lickwind. He also believes she would grief forever the loss of her first husband. After the birth of her child, Corrie shows that she is surprisingly strong; their friendship grows stronger and finally through prayers they find their way to love and marriage.

From Pride to Bride © 2003 by JoAnne A. Grote
Bess Craig is considered bossy and very independent. Gideon Riker is the local saloon owner but is there more to him than meets the eye? This unusual team joins forces when Gideon offers to rent his brand new house to Bess and Bertie, the youngest Craig sister to start a baking business out of. Neither had any intentions of falling in love, Bess, a practicing Christian woman and a saloon owner who had lost his faith. She contradicts him, annoys him and he sure does not know why he always comes to her rescue when she steps into a mess. I liked the ending in the next book which shows us another trait of Bess, although, I am uncertain if the event was historically correct.

From Alarming to Charming © 2003 by Pamela Kaye Tracy
Thomas Hardin is returning to Lickwind after seven long years. At age fifteen his father and him were chased out of town. His dad was labeled a cattle rustler. He knew returning wouldn't be easy. And it wasn't.

Bertie Craig found that for the first time in her life she wanted to be noticed as a female. She didn't understand why she felt different around Thomas but she did know his ranch was the first time she felt like she was home in many a year. If only he didn't think of her as nothing more than a squirt.
This was my least favorite story of the Craig sisters. I guess, the ending with the mystery around the hero’s father cattle rustling, the unveiling of the true villain and the seemingly easy return of our hero into the arms of the Lord was hard to swallow. While I strongly believe that faith can overcome many obstacle, I guess I am not quite as forgiving as the Lord would want us to be.

A Vow Unbroken © 2000 by Amy Rognlie
A misunderstanding or better the mischievous actions of an elderly aunt bring hero, James Parrish and heroine Abby Cantrell together. Abby has made a vow never to love someone again and James longs to have someone to love and be loved back. She fears that breaking her vow will bring misfortunes to both James, her daughter and herself. When she realizes that she loves James, she feels guilty. James tries to help her see that God would not punish her for loving, he reads the bible with her and she claims she understands, however her actions, her manners towards James indicate the opposite. I had no patience for her. Abby fell into the TSTL category for me.

Finishing Touches © 2007 by Kelly Eileen Hake
Captain Gregory Royce was looking forward to wedding the love of his life....until she ran off with another and he was left with her spinster sister, Libby Collier. The happiest day of his life became the worse day. Unlike Libby who had a secret longing to be loved by the handsome Captain but knew he loved her sister.

Gregory came across as self absorbed and whiny. He storms out, then realizes that he was wrong, storms back into her life, then back out. I got dizzy trying to follow his reasoning and storming in and out. The heroine was way to patient with him.

I am torn trying to figure out how many stars I should give this book. Button Strong Bride was a clear 5 Star for me, the Wedding Wagon and From Halter to Altar clear 4 stars. From Carriage to Marriage and From Pride to Bride, I wish I could give 3.5 stars and From Alarming to Charming, in relation to the other Craig sister stories, was a solid 3 star. Finishing Touches was okay which I guess merits 2 stars and A Vow Unbroken and Joie De Vivre are merrily 1 star in my eyes. I want to stress I did not hate the stories as a 1 star under Amazon’s rating system implies, I just did not care for them. Adding all up and then dividing by 9, would give the book a 4 star rating. However, because I really loved the second story and it does make up for the 1 star stories, I am giving the book as a whole 4 stars.