For widower and ex-doctor Trace Warren, a fresh start in Whisper Creek comes with a catch: to save his home and apothecary shop, Trace must remarry. While making Katherine Fleming his wife is simple enough, he refuses to fall in love again. But keeping his distance from the kind, beautiful woman and the infant she brings with her is dangerously difficult…
Katherine promised to protect the baby left in her care, and a marriage of convenience to Trace is the only way to do that. But all too soon, Trace possesses Katherine’s heart, even as he still carefully guards his own. With hopes of turning their arrangement into a true love match, can Katherine convince Trace to forgive himself for his past mistakes and embrace his new family?
Wedded for the Baby (Stand-In Brides #2) by Dorothy Clark
I nearly skipped this one because the blurb piled up all the tropes I hate. However, I wanted to read a Western historical book in particular, and this was available for review, so I gave it a chance. Also, with Harlequin cancelling this book line, I plan to read as many of them as I can before they’re gone forever.
While this one falls closer to the obviously religious end of the Christian fiction spectrum than many books in the line, I was happy from the outset to see all the tropes I was dreading were turned around.
It was a time the marriage of convenience was believable, and I also liked the setup with the baby (it’s not the heroine’s). Additionally, I’m no fan of the “hero must marry by a certain date” trope, but it worked for me here (more or less).
I will say that the widowed hero is hard to like for much of the book. It’s all about his Pain, and how much worse things are for him, and poor him, and he can’t look at a pregnant woman – or a baby.
This is the nineteenth century; almost all married couples lost a number of children, either before birth or soon afterwards. Women had a HUGE chance of dying in childbirth (e.g. Jane Austen lost multiple relatives that way). The hero was a doctor; he would have known all of this.
The heroine lost her love, too, but she isn’t allowed her pain.
I much preferred the heroine (though she cried too often), and I did like the writing of the baby – he felt realistic. Often babies appear in books like this just to be cute accessories rather than characters; not the case here.
I also liked the little attention to historical detail, just as I did in the author’s previous book.
One problematic thing: this is not the first book, nor the first author, in the Love Inspired Historical (Christian) series I’ve read that has had troubling stereotyping of minority characters (Chinese in the last two books I’ve read). There’s writing someone whose first language isn’t English, and then there’s making characters come across as idiots. They’re not the same thing.
These books target a very particular demographic, and it’s – ahem – more Trump than tolerance. I’d like to see LIH fix this issue, but as the line is now defunct it’s too late.
Good and bad in this one. As with the previous book in the series, I appreciate the author’s attention to detail and the historical feel. However, I wish this grumpy hero had woken up to himself a little earlier on.
Review copy provided by NetGalley.