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A Reluctant Bride

(Bride Ships #1)

4.60  ·  Rating details ·  181 ratings  ·  121 reviews
After facing desperate heartache and loss, Mercy agrees to escape a bleak future in London and join a bride ship. Wealthy and titled, Joseph leaves home and takes to the sea as the ships surgeon to escape the pain of losing his family. He has no intention of settling down, but when Mercy becomes his assistant, they must fight against a forbidden love.
Hardcover, 352 pages
Published June 4th 2019 by Bethany House Publishers (first published June 2019)
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4.60  · 
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 ·  181 ratings  ·  121 reviews

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Deanne Patterson
May 29, 2019 rated it it was amazing
Why do I love historical fiction? This book is a prime example of why!
After reading the book and about the author's research which sounds like she had a blast researching it by the way I realized this is based on a true event.
I LOVE books based historically on true events.
A Bride Ship! Doesn't that sound so romantic? Now I've read plenty of books about mail-order brides but none about Bride Ships, cue dreamy sigh!
I love the main character's name as well, Mercy. Mercy truly is an angel of mercy.
A new Jody Hedlund book is always something that I meet with great anticipation. When it’s the opener of a new series, even better! A Reluctant Bride is a lovely start to her Bride Ships series. I love that Hedlund tackles another intriguing historical event, this time women being a part of a bride ship to be sent to marry complete strangers. This is something I have vaguely heard about before but have never read any fiction concerning this happening.

Our main character Mercy is a desperate woman
Jun 13, 2019 rated it really liked it
Shelves: read-in-2019
Great start to a new series!

In A Reluctant Bride, Hedlund focuses on what life was like in London and how that influenced young women to leave their homeland and family to marry a stranger in a foreign country. Mercy and Joseph both have servant hearts. His upper echelon standing in society naturally puts a separation between them.

I enjoyed being aboard the Tynemouth with Mercy and Joseph and living through a part of history I knew nothing about. The author's note at the end shares what was fact
May 17, 2019 rated it it was amazing
So much love for this incredible book, the start of the ‘Bride Ships’ series by Jody Hedlund.

Let’s just start by saying, yet again, she seems to be able to root out a piece of little known history and create something amazing out of it. I’d never heard of the Bride Ships, and it fascinates me. The journey alone takes a 1/3 of a year. Such an epic voyage to take to get from England to Vancouver Island. What’s more telling is the desperation of so many to leave all you’ve ever known to start fres
Jun 07, 2019 rated it it was amazing
Jody Hedlund's books are always fascinating to me! I love the way she takes a bit of history that is often overlooked or not even known about and creates a beautiful love story around it! This book, and the ensuing series, give us a peek into the lives of women who found themselves on one of the "bride ships" headed to the other side of the world.
Mercy and Joseph were both great characters! Though they came from completely different stations in life they both had a heart to help others in need.
Jun 11, 2019 rated it really liked it
Mercy Wilkins lives in one of the poorest sections of London. She's grown up assisting with the care of her siblings and neighboring children, and has often seen sickness and disease carry them away. Work of any decent kind is hard to find in 1862, much less if you are a young woman, but Mercy is determined to make a way for herself and to continue to help others. After seeing the struggles that come with marriage and motherhood, she promises herself she'll do everything she can to avoid both.

May 24, 2019 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
This was a thoroughly eye opening experience on a time and event in history I had no idea existed! The characters are incredibly well done, and I so enjoyed getting to know Mercy most of all. The plot was a fascinating one, and it’s rather amazing how much truth the author used in putting it together. I had such a hard time putting this book down.

The view the readers get is from those in the steerage to those of wealth...and the drastic difference between the two. I felt the embarrassment of th
A Reluctant Bride was a beautiful novel and a wonderful start to a new series. The author wrote a story that truly captured the main character’s despiration. She felt that she had no choice but to join the women on this voyage and try to escape the horrid circumstances and living conditions of the slums of London.

The main characters, Dr. Joseph Colville and Mercy Wilkins, came from very different upbringings and stations in life. They were continually drawn to each other throughout the novel and
Jun 03, 2019 rated it it was amazing
Jody Hedlund has done it again! This is another 5 star, must read historical novel! Somehow she gets me so wrapped up in the story. I just couldn’t put it down! I loved it! I cared so much about the characters and their circumstances. I just had to know what was going to happen. I can’t wait to read more! I highly recommend this book!

I received a complimentary copy from the publisher. I was not required to write a positive review. All opinions expressed are mine alone.
A. Harrison
My Review:

Genre: Romance, historical, fiction.

My Rating: 4 and 1/2 stars.

My Favorite Character/s: Mercy was so different (in a good way, I promise!), her character so strong and kind — never caring for herself, but for others. I don’t really understand where she was coming from and it was nice getting to see why she did what she did.

My Verse for Mercy is Luke 10:33 But a certain Samaritan, as he journeyed, came where he was: and when he saw him, he had compassion on him, (King James Version.)

Kristine Morgan
May 18, 2019 rated it it was amazing
Jody Hedlund is one of my favorite authors of Historical Fiction. She does a fantastic job of researching the setting and subject matter. Her words convey vivid scenes that create pictures in my mind. I could feel Mercy's despair and desperation to find her own way in the world, but fear joining her life or heart to anyone else. I fell in love with Mercy's kindness and found myself cheering her on. Joseph Colville has a title and wealth, but not happiness. He is serving as a ships surgeon while ...more
Paula Shreckhise
A Reluctant Bride by Jody Hedlund is the first in the series Bride Ships. It is set in England and British Columbia in 1862.
Mercy Wilkins has a servant’s heart but she is caught in poverty.
Chapter 4: “Was death so common a visitor in these parts that people expected it, maybe even welcomed it as the only true savior from the pain? Or had they, like her, closed off their heart to the pain in order to continue on?”
She embarks on a ship to the British colonies in order to give her siblings a bett
May 31, 2019 rated it really liked it
"Where is a ship when you need one?"

Desperate to leave the slums of London behind, hoping to pave the way for her beloved sister to escape the cruel clutches of the work house, Mercy Wilkins boards the Tynemouth, not realizing that the sturdy sailing vessel is travelling half-way around the world to British Columbia, bearing; of all things . . brides! Getting married is the last thing on Mercy's mind; her impression of men leads her to believe that they serve only one purpose, breeding children
Susan's Reviews
My thanks to the author, the publisher and NetGalley for an ARC of this novel in exchange for an honest review.
For those who enjoy historical romance, this tale of a young girl who signs up to sail from London to British Columbia, Canada to become the future bride of a miner will be of interest. It wasn't to my taste, and I found the romance between the ship's surgeon and Mercy to be improbable. Yes, Mercy is a pretty, kind and decent girl, but it was Joseph Colville's character that didn't ring
May 27, 2019 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: read-2019
“Though her hair was damp and unkempt, face smudged and weary, her garments soggy and splattered with all manner of filth, for a reason he couldn’t explain, she had grown more beautiful and not less.”

What an incredible journey! Jody Hedlund is well-known for her beautifully written historical fiction and this beginning of a new series about bride ships will surely delight her fans and garner more followers. The story sets out in Victorian London where squalor, poverty, and hopelessness abound an
Jun 10, 2019 rated it it was amazing
A Reluctant Bride is an incredible journey from poverty stricken London, and the impossible living conditions in the slums. Mercy Wilkins finds her way to a bride's ship bound for British Columbia. Conditions on the ship are grim, and Mercy's only saving grace is that the ship's surgeon recognizes her compassion for those who need her. He requests her assistance in nursing the sick aboard ship, and the two share a unique camaraderie which develops into a strong attraction forbidden by Mercy's ch ...more
Tricia Mingerink
Jun 11, 2019 rated it really liked it
Another good book by Jody Hedlund. This book focuses a lot on the trials of a long sea voyage, and I found the history in it really fascinating. Both Mercy and Joseph were compelling characters, though it did annoy me that on the audiobook, the narrator gave Mercy a very child-like sounding voice that made her seem younger than she was. Which is doubly strange because it was a narrator I normally enjoy. But that is more a critique of the audiobook than the book.

This book has a very sweet, adora
Jun 07, 2019 rated it it was amazing
I just finished this book and my heart is still pounding well I wipe a few stray tears from my eyes, so loving so heartbreaking, a story every person who loves a good romance story should read, I can't wait to read the second book in the bride ship series, I am hooked.

Mercy Wilkins is going to Vancouver, not that she knows where that is or that she's accidentally gotten on a bride ship, but she really doesn't have a choice, it's either go on the ship or starve in the slums of London. she leaves
Jun 02, 2019 rated it really liked it
A Reluctant Bride is a sweet love story in a unique setting. The whole premise of a bride ship is fascinating and I love the voyage Mercy and Joseph take during this book, both physically and spiritually! Jody Hedlund does a wonderful job creating characters you come to care for and her writing style flows effortlessly.
I definitely recommend this book to reads of historical romance!

I received a copy of the book from the publisher, but the opinions shared are completely my own and without bias.
Jody Pulcheon
Jun 01, 2019 rated it it was amazing
I just finished reading "A Reluctant Bride" by Jody Hedlund and it was really good!! 5⭐! This is the first book in her new series called The Bride Ships. The story is based on true events and I think she did a really great job with it! I can't wait to read the next book in the series. Thank you to @netgalley and @bethanyhousefiction for letting me read this book!
May 28, 2019 rated it it was amazing
What can I say about this book except another wonderful story written by Jody Hedlund and that I'm never disappointed when I read a new book by her? Right on both accounts!!
Jody does wonders with her characters and I enjoy making new friends with them! Too bad they weren't real people and too bad I couldn't pop into the story like Mary Poppins pops into sidewalk chalk paintings. How wonderful that would be!!
I think Mercy would be my favorite character. I love her kind and compassionate ways tow
Jun 04, 2019 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: read-in-2019
You know a book is good when you read it late into the night. That's what happened to me while reading A Reluctant Bride. It's a good thing I'm on vacation and didn't need to get up in the morning, as I read until 1:30 a.m. in order to finish it!

I love how Jody Hedlund chooses to highlight lesser-known historical events in her novels. A Reluctant Bride is about the bride ship Tynemouth that took women to British Columbia to find work and, hopefully, become brides. I'd never heard of the bride sh
Trisha Robertson (Joy of Reading)
See full review at:

I always enjoy getting the opportunity to delve into a Jody Hedlund novel, and this newest story is no exception. Right from the beginning I was pulled headlong into the story and swept blissfully along on a journey that I won’t soon forget!

This story is so much more than a journey across the ocean from England to the Canadian Colonies of Vancouver. It is a journey of growth, and a journey of learning how to let go of past hurts.

Along t
May 17, 2019 rated it it was amazing
The squalor of the London slum district is a hopeless place where Mercy Wilkins lives. She is uneducated and there are no jobs to be had. She knows it’s time to move on when her mother threatens to kick out her younger brother after losing her job in the rag sorting factory. One more mouth to feed simply had to go! As her sister Patience has already gone to the workhouse and is failing in health, Mercy sees that she needs to do something drastic.
She gets the very last slot on a bride ship sponso
Becca-Rae Weidel
Jody Hedlund has officially penned the latest must-read in historical fiction! This is not a book that is merely read, but experienced. The author is able to draw you so deeply into the heart of the characters that it's as if you are standing right amongst them. I was not ready to let them go when there were no pages left to go. I absolutely loved this story, and am already impatiently waiting for the next release in the series!

My favorite part of this book was the romance. I am a very picky per
Jun 04, 2019 rated it really liked it
Seeking a better life

While I've heard of mail-order brides, I had never heard of bride ships prior to learning about A Reluctant Bride. (Except those that brought women to Australia to marry the convicts there.) So it was fascinating to discover that ships once brought women to Canada from England in response to the pleas of the men who lived there, outnumbering the women exponentially.

Mercy's story highlights the deplorable conditions of the poor in London in the mid-nineteenth century. Reading
Nicole Cook
May 27, 2019 rated it it was amazing
Originally posted on the Inkwell Inspirations blog:

A Reluctant Bride, Jody Hedlund’s first installment in her new Bride Ships series, is a fascinating novel that explores the relatively unknown history of poor British women willingly boarding bride ships to seek a better life in British Columbia in the 1860s. Hedlund takes readers to the poorest slums in London and the horrific conditions those families faced, often with no way out from their situations. R
May 29, 2019 rated it it was amazing
I was not familiar with the concept of bride ships but leave it to Author Jody Hedlund to do her research and find this unique tidbit in history and then write an inspirational story. With Mercy Wilkins’ parents having too many children to feed and clothe due to the abject poverty and hopelessness in London, she finds a way to leave and joins a bride ship sailing to British Columbia, even though she has vowed to never marry or have children. On board the ship is Dr. Joseph Colville, who is wealt ...more
Although her life in London is extremely difficult, Mercy Wilkins has done the best she can. But when her mother loses her job, making it impossible to feed all members of the family, Mercy leaves home so that one of her younger siblings won't have to. Her sister Patience, who has already gone to the workhouse, convinces Mercy to go to the Columbia Mission Society in order to immigrate to Canada for work. Although she's reluctant to go, with no other option--other than marriage, and Mercy has vo ...more
May 31, 2019 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
I really liked this one.

Jody Hedlund has a way of weaving a beautiful story together while acknowledging truths that are necessary, yet difficult, to hear.

Mercy Wilkins grew up in London's slums - she is the poorest of the poor. Reading about the conditions that the poor had to live in is hard: a lot of the time we want to ignore the extreme poverty in the world, past and present. But, while Hedlund addresses the terrible conditions, she also highlights the beautiful people who work to all
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Jody Hedlund is the author of over twenty historicals for both adults and teens and is the winner of numerous awards including the Christy, Carol, and Christian Book Award.

Jody lives in central Michigan with her husband, five busy children, and five spoiled cats. Although Jody prefers to experience daring and dangerous adventures through her characters rather than in real life, she’s learned that

Other books in the series

Bride Ships (2 books)
  • The Runaway Bride (The Bride Ships, #2)
“Would not the world be a better place if a man simply lived in humility and loved his brother or sister as himself, regardless of one’s birth?” 1 likes
“Though her hair was damp and unkempt, face smudged and weary, her garments soggy and splattered with all manner of filth, for a reason he couldn’t explain, she had grown more beautiful and not less.” 1 likes
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