24 Jun

In 1872, sixteen Civil War widows living in St. Louis respond to a series of meetings conducted by a land speculator who lures them west by promising “prime homesteads” in a “booming community.” Unbeknownst to them, the speculator’s true motive is to find an excuse to bring women to the fledging community of Plum Grove, Nebraska, in hopes they will accept marriage proposals shortly after their arrival!
Sparks fly when these unsuspecting widows meet the men who are waiting for them. These women are going to need all the courage and faith they can muster to survive these unwanted circumstances–especially when they begin to discover that none of them is exactly who she appears to be.

A native of southern Illinois, Stephanie Grace Whitson has lived in Nebraska since 1975. She began what she calls “playing with imaginary friends” (writing fiction) when, as a result of teaching her four homeschooled children Nebraska history, she was personally encouraged and challenged by the lives of pioneer women in the West. Since her first book, Walks the Fire, was published in 1995, Stephanie’s fiction titles have appeared on the ECPA bestseller list numerous times and been finalists for the Christy Award, the Inspirational Reader’s Choice Award, and ForeWord Magazine’s Book of the Year. Her first nonfiction work, How to Help a Grieving Friend, was released in 2005. In addition to serving in her local church and keeping up with two married children, two college students, and a high school senior, Stephanie enjoys motorcycle trips with her family and church friends. Her passionate interests in pioneer women’s history, antique quilts, and French, Italian, and Hawaiian language and culture provide endless story-telling possibilities.

My Impressions:

Sixteen Brides really surprised me.  I was expecting a typical historical romance and what I got was the story of 5 very real women — women determined to make new lives amidst the Nebraska prairie.  Whitson got her inspiration for this story from a newspaper clipping she found while doing research for another project.  The clipping detailed the arrival of 16 Civil War widows to claim homesteads in Plum Grove, Nebraska.  Intrigued, she drew up a story that pulls the reader in and won’t let go until the last page.  The five women are from very different backgrounds and have very different motives for coming to Plum Grove. But what they do have in common is the determination and tenacity to make a new life for themselves, by themselves, without the need for a man.

I really enjoyed Sixteen Brides.  And while there is romance within its pages, this book is more about the sheer will to determine one’s own fate, the recognition of the need for others, and the spiritual journey of the main characters.  Check out Sixteen Brides.  I highly recommend it.

(Sixteen Brides was provided to me by Bethany House in return for a review.  The opinions expressed are mine alone.)

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