The Unlikely Wife by Debra Ullrick
My rating: 4.5 of 5 stars
We often have ideas of what we want in life, but they aren’t necessarily what we need. Such was the case with Michael Bowen. He asked the Lord to send him a bride, a genteel, elegant Southern lady. The Lord sent him Selina instead. Of course, he took one look at the rough and tumble, trouser-wearing , but very beautiful young woman, and thought he’d been cheated. It turns out that Selina had her friend write those letters, unaware of the embellishments her friends had made. Nevertheless, Michael was a man who took his vows seriously, and he’d married her, even if she wasn’t the woman he’d fallen in love with via the letters they had exchanged. He would make the best of this marriage, but he didn’t believe he’d ever love her. He was afraid to love the wrong kind of woman after what his eldest brother went through with his first wife.
Selina fell in love with Michael via the letters he’d sent her. She came to Idaho from Kentucky in good faith, determined to be a good wife to her new husband. She was perfectly happy with him, with his good looks, and his honorable personality, and she was happy to have a safe home and plenty of food, and an accepting family of in-laws. However, it was heart breaking knowing that she wasn’t enough for her husband, what he wanted. That he didn’t love her for who she was. Regardless, she too had made vows and she’d keep them. They both prayed that God would make the best of their marriage, and give them the hearts for being a good husband and wife to each other.
Debra Ullrick charmed me with this novel. Her writing is crisp and lively. Her prose nicely descriptive and full of imagery. I found Selina utterly delightful. She is comfortable in her own skin. She’s a giving, generous person who is highly capable of many things, even if that list doesn’t include reading and writing, speaking genteelly, and wearing dresses. She wants to improve things about her that need improving, but she doesn’t want to fit into anyone’s box for her. She believes that God made everyone and everything unique, and that’s the way she wants to stay. I like that she stands up for herself with Michael when he tries to do the bossy husband bit. Like her, I don’t believe being a good wife means being a doormat to one’s husband. She’s perfectly willing to honor and cherish her husband, but she’s not going to let him control her. I loved how she inspired Michael to look at the small things one typically takes for granted, the ever-present beauty of the world around him. To stop and smell the roses. She continually surprised him, and showed him that God knew exactly what he needed in a wife. I loved Selina because she was easy to love. I wanted Michael to feel the same. It took him a while, but ultimately he realized just what a good woman God had brought him.
Michael was a good man. I didn’t like some of his tendencies to be narrow-minded about what he thought his life and his wife should be. I liked that he was a man of faith who truly wanted to do what was right. He was afraid that he couldn’t love his wife, but his actions showed love in that he treated her with respect, took care of her, stood up for her, and opened his life to Selina. He honored his vows, and he showed what he didn’t believe he could feel. Love is about what you do, not what you say. And I could see love in Michael’s actions towards Selina, long before he owned up or acknowledged it.
I am so glad that I read this book, because I enjoyed the story and the messages about the Christian walk in it. Along with a beautiful romance, it made for a very fulfilling read. I liked that even though this is a clean romance, Ms. Ullrick did a good job of conveying the chemistry between Selina and Michael, through their thoughts, their interactions, and their kisses, both gentle and passionate. There’s no question that they have a true love match.
The only reason I didn’t give this five stars is because Michael’s fixation on not being able to love Selina, and her efforts to change herself to make herself worthy of his life, along with the aspects about God giving him the power to love her seemed a bit unromantic. I do believe God shows us what love is, and I think that a Christian marriage should definitely involve God in the process of relating to one’s spouse, but I wanted Michael to realize that he loves Selina out of his own heart. He did come to this conclusion eventually, and realized how he wasn’t doing right by Selina trying to make her something she wasn’t. So that was good.
That issue aside, this was an infectiously readable, wonderful book. I would recommend The Unlikely Wife to any historical romance readers open to a book with an obvious Christian message. I will be reading more by this author.
Overall rating: 4.5/5.0 stars.
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