"A Bride at Last"

"Abandoned by his mail-order bride, Silas Jonesey has fought an uphill battle to recover from a pattern of poor choices. Now his prayers for reconciliation have finally come true and his estranged wife has contacted with him with her whereabouts.

"Kate Dawson was supposed to be a mail-order bride, but upon realizing she'd been deceived about her intended groom, she's now settled into life as a schoolteacher. When the mother of a student passes away, Kate assumes she'll take on care of nine-year-old Anthony—until two men suddenly show up in town, both claiming to be the boy's father.

"Silas can see Anthony loves Kate, so he enlists her help in reaching out to the boy and attempting to prove his paternity to the court. When a common interest in Anthony leads to an interest in each other and Silas and Kate begin to think they can overcome their rocky start, neither is prepared for the secrets and past hurts that have yet to come to light. Can Silas, Kate, and Anthony's wounded souls bind them together, or will all that stands between them leave them lonely forever?"

The back cover of Melissa Jagears' latest book in her Unexpected Brides series, "A Bride at Last", sounds promising as a cute, if not intriguing read; however, unfortunately, in my opinion, the story falls as flat as the characterization.

Jagears is an average writer, but with minimal description that seems forced and also leaving even the main characters undeveloped and mysterious, her shortcomings impact more than "writing style". The story overall is disappointingly predictable and at the same time superficial in terms of not only the characters themselves, but also the plot. There are "secrets and past hurts" alluded to, including relationships of both Silas Jonesey and Kate Dawson, which I never felt were fully, satisfactorily explained, and at times these unknown histories seem only to create a "twist" in the plot without adding any depth or realness whatsoever. Perhaps in part because of the writing, I personally did not like, nor could I relate to, Kate's character, which was, as portrayed (despite attempts to be quick witted), shallow, nervous, and often silly; she is almost immediately head-over-heals about the new guy in town, Silas, and sometimes flippant toward her boss and the family she lives with. I didn't want to not like the characters; I kept waiting for Jagears to write them to life, to write more about them than, for instance, that Kate is a fast runner, and then to describe their maturing, growing, their budding relationships. And my fingers were crossed that eventually the back story would be clarified, so the actual plot could be developed. I'm disappointed neither the characters nor the storyline ever leaped off the pages of "A Bride at Last".

Disclaimer: This book was received for free from Bethany House Publishers, a division of Baker Publishing Group, in exchange for my review.

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