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Trouble #1

Courting Trouble

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Tired of Waiting for a Match-Made-in-Heaven,
She'll Settle for One Made in Texas

Whether it's riding bikes, catching snakes, or sliding down banisters, Essie Spreckelmeyer just can't quite make herself into the ideal woman her hometown--and her mother--expect her to be. It's going to take an extraordinary man to appreciate her joy and spontaneity--or so says her doting oil-man father.

Unfortunately such a man doesn't appear to reside in Corsicana, Texas.

It's 1894, the year of Essie's thirtieth birthday, and she decides the Lord has more important things to do than provide her a husband. If she wants one, she needs to catch him herself. So, she writes down the names of all the eligible bachelors in her small Texas town, makes a list of their attributes and drawbacks, closes her eyes, twirls her finger, and ... picks one.

But convincing the lucky "husband-to-be" is going to a bit more of a problem.

Join Deeanne Gist for another unforgettable tale and find out whether Essie's plan to catch a husband succeeds or if she's just Courting Trouble.

332 pages, Paperback

First published June 1, 2007

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Displaying 1 - 30 of 402 reviews
Profile Image for Shoujo85.
102 reviews20 followers
November 23, 2012
Rating: Don't waste your time reading this! (1.5 stars)

“What a stupid book!” were the very first words out of my mouth when I finished this. I give you fair warning now this review will probably end up being more of a rant than a review.

WARNING: This review contains MAJOR SPOILERS!

From the beginning this book reads very much like a Bridget Jones’s Diary story set in the 1890s in Texas.

I kept reading believing there would be a worthwhile payoff at the end and she would ‘get the guy’ of her dreams after all. But no. That was not to be. Not only does she not get her own Mr Right, she doesn’t get anyone at all! Apparently 'God' punishes her for impatience in wanting a man of her own and deciding to go get one herself rather than waiting for the Almighty to provide one, so not only is she not allowed to get hitched, she is to be content opening a bicycle club for all the citizens of her little home town. Yup, a bicycle club is going to make her feel loved and keep her warm at night and comfort her in her old age. Not to mention the people of the town were previously dead set against bicycles and thought Essie was indecent to ride one, but now it’s suddenly perfectly alright and everyone’s eager to sign up and waste their hard-earned dollars on cycling lessons. Go figure.

Is there a Happy Ending?

Content Rating: Morally Lacking

The main character loses her virginity to a rake under a magnolia tree, and although the scene is not written it’s perfectly clear what they’ve done.

There is a fair bit of ‘Christian’ content – if you could call it that; I would hesitate to. The church comes across as hypocritical and the characters not much better either. It certainly doesn’t have the same mellow feeling associated with most Christian fiction I’ve read.

Not much violence other than creep #2 getting punched in the nose. And an orphan kid accidentally shooting an old man (he’s only grazed, not seriously wounded) for which the terrified lad gets locked up alone in a cold jail cell waiting for the judge to pass sentence upon him. And then locked up again every night for weeks until the old man is fully healed, all the while spending every waking hour either working at the old man’s farm or in the local store from which he ‘borrowed’ the gun and bullets (and put them back). But it’s perfectly ok to terrify the poor kid and treat him as an indentured servant because the old man and his wife will adopt him and they’ll all live happily ever after.

Romance Rating: Utterly abysmal!

In summary, Essie gives up on waiting for God to provide her a husband and decides to go get one on her own. She decides upon Hamilton Crook the local shopkeeper and sets out to apply her somewhat-lacking feminine wiles upon him under the guise of working in his store, despite his protests. He knows exactly what she’s up to and even begins to entertain romantic, or at least lustful, feelings towards her until he finds her husband-hunting list one day and that’s the end of that. He skips town for a few days and comes back toting a brand new wife to flaunt in Essie’s face – and expects her to still work in his store because she’s good at making sales! Essie gives up on creep #1 and gets out of there as fast as she decently can without making a suspicious exit. And walks - quite literally - straight into the arms of handsome drifter Adam Currington. Hello creep #2.

He promptly decides she’s a ‘ripe’ old maid with ‘an itch’ and determines he’ll be the one to scratch it. He applies his charm and kisses and woos her in secret to the point where she willingly agrees to allow him to seduce her because she’s afraid if she doesn’t he’ll get fed up with her and decide he doesn’t want to marry her after all. They make a night-time rendezvous under a magnolia tree on her father’s property and get the action started, only to be interrupted halfway through the dastardly deed by the arrival of the town sheriff come to pluck the little bird out of Adam’s evil love nest, and none too gently either!

The game is up and Essie and Adam are dragged home to face her parents, and the preacher. But Adam suggests a quick marriage would be suspicious so they set a later date (why oh why any of them actually believed for even a moment he’d stick around and go through with it I have no idea!) and then promptly skips town in the middle of the night. Good riddance creep #2.

So the stage is all set for Essie’s parents to try and pair her up with creep #3 so she’s safely married off before rumour gets around that she’s a ruined woman. To be fair Ewing isn’t really a creep, he just has some trouble with his priorities. He’s had a crush on Essie since they were kids and now that he’s returned to be the town’s fresh-out-of-bible-school preacher he wants to tie the knot with his childhood sweetheart. She’s really not interested in him but thinks ‘what the heck, he’s a man isn’t’ he? So he’ll do.’ After all, he condescended to accept her even after she told him about her recent indiscretion. In return Ewing demands she makes some concessions to propriety (lose the flashy hats and the bicycle) and she begrudgingly complies.

But the church has other ideas when they hear a rumour Essie might be a ruined woman and demand Ewing lose the girlfriend or lose his new position. He then finally shows his true creep colours and goes to tell Essie the wedding is off; only she comes to her senses first and beats him to the punch line. But he’s not man enough to admit he was about to do the same thing and lets her take all the blame for it. Nor does he – a preacher! - even consult with God before deciding to call it off with Essie; he just goes along with what the church says he has to do and prepares to ditch her without so much as a blink of the eye. Goodbye creep #3.

So, now, surely it’s time for the real hero to finally turn up and sweep Essie of her feet with true love, right? No. There aren’t enough pages left and the best that ‘God’ sees fit to deal out to her is a demand she start a bicycle club. Wow, now isn’t that romantic? NOT. Great ending there, great ending. Great creep-riddled romance too.

Oh, I forgot to mention in there somewhere between the Adam and Ewing fiascos, Hamilton continues to show his true creepy colours by occasionally trying to hit on Essie - in his wife’s presence! - and doesn’t have the decency to even apologise for it.


*Where exactly does the Sheriff think he can get off trespassing on private land to interrupt a lovers tryst mid-action, and then practically drag the young lady out from her hiding place demanding to know her identity?! I may be wrong, but I don’t think it was actually ILLEGAL to commit adultery in that time period. Sure, it was HIGHLY frowned upon, but I don’t think it was actually illegal. So, really, the Sheriff had no legal grounds upon which to trespass on private property and harass the amorous paramours, other than his own sense of self-righteousness. Don’t get me wrong; I’m most certainly NOT endorsing their clandestine activities (quite the opposite) but I don’t think the Sherriff was in the right either and certainly overstepped his bounds in treating the young girl as he did. Quite frankly, it was none of his business!

*Essie is a fictional character so we are willing to grant her some concessions to sensibility for the sake of an amusing story, but even so, surely a fictional character of moderate intelligence must realise that a fulfilling marriage is unlikely to be based on an arbitrary decision to woo and marry the most eligible of the town’s rather ineligible bachelors, especially when she has no regard for him and he even less for her. I disliked Hamilton from the start and couldn’t countenance the fact that HE was the hero of the story; but thankfully it became clear once he toted the new wife home that his destiny lay elsewhere.

*Which brings me to Adam. I couldn’t believe it when Essie actually felt sorry for him when he admitted he’s tormented by not knowing how many, if any, illegitimate children he’s fathered. I say he deserves every ounce of torment he gets, if not more! If a man chooses to become a drifter in order to continually prey upon naïve and vulnerable young women and ‘ripe’ old maids, he deserves all the misery he gets! Especially if he never returns to find out if there are any children and make amends or, at the very least, contribute towards their monetary needs.

*If there was not one man in the town at the 4th of July picnic willing to bid even two cents on an old maid’s basket to spare her the humiliation of total rejection then surely there was not one man in that town worthy of marrying her – or anyone else! Yet Essie’s self-esteem, or desperation for a husband, still compelled her to try and snag one of the louses anyway.

*Furthermore it was unbelievable that a girl of her character and background in that time period would not know when she was crossing the line from harmless impropriety to something much more serious. She’d been brought up all her born days as a Christian, her religion clearly played a large part in her life (she assessed all her potential husbands on that point), she was familiar with her Bible and regularly prayed to God. Yet, she found no difficulty in allowing herself to be seduced, rationalising it as her ignorance of the ways of actual wooing couples because she’d never been wooed before and assumed they ‘all did it’ before marriage and just hadn’t let her in on the secret. That’s laying it on a bit thick girl. She knew exactly what she was doing and that everything in her upbringing had taught her it was wrong. Yet she did it anyway because she was afraid if she didn’t Adam would be impatient with her and wouldn’t marry her after all. So, if she thought he was that shallow and cared so very little for her, interested only in his own physical gratification, then WHY ON EARTH did she think they could possibly have a successful marriage?!?!?!

*One last thing that bothered me was everyone’s assumption that because Essie had been a ‘good girl’ from a distinguished family before her disgrace, she was granted immediate and automatic forgiveness from God for her transgression. Now, I don’t claim to be a religious scholar of any kind, but I’m pretty darn tooting sure you have to actually be sorry and repent first before you can be granted forgiveness. Yet everyone goes around claiming she’s as good-as-new-forgiven and worthy of marrying any man, LONG BEFORE she even really regrets her actions and certainly before she actually repents and receives forgiveness. It just grated on me that everyone kept saying ‘what’s been forgiven doesn’t matter anymore’, when in fact she wasn’t sorry and hadn’t asked for forgiveness.
Profile Image for Michelle.
Author 41 books402 followers
November 21, 2007

Courting Trouble is my favorite of Deeanne's three historical novels. The author created a dynamic, quirky, unique characterization in Essie. In fact, I can't recall a single "cardboard character" in this story. They were all expertly developed.

The plot was so unique, that I loved it for that reason alone. Plus the spiritual element was very well done. In fact, I related so well to Essie's struggles that I got a choked up when she had her heart broken or was misunderstood--each and every time. I loved how the author showed that changing who you are for someone else will always leave you empty and frustrated. In short, this story gave me a powerful emotional experience. I feel like I learned something about myself, and I benefited spiritually from reading Courting Trouble. Like I said, it's the best of her three books.

I also loved how the ending was not the usual scenario, which kept me reading because I honestly didn't know who Essie would end up with/or what she would do. I love any element in a novel that keeps me guessing. I totally understood Essie's thinking process and I identified with her. In fact, I hope that if the author writes a sequel she will include Essie, because I hated to see the story end.

Courting Trouble is probably one of the edgiest historical novels I've read in CBA, yet in my opinion, it never strayed into objectionable matter. The author did tackle some pretty big issues in a genuine way, and I am impressed with how well she crafted it. The author is fabulous at putting physical temptation and realism into her stories. I believe it's her greatest strength and her brand as an author.

I'm also very impressed with Bethany House and the books they've been publishing lately, especially the historicals! Courting Trouble is published by Bethany House and will be released in late May 2007, or early June 2007.
Profile Image for Kathy.
2,741 reviews5,975 followers
October 6, 2016
If this was the first Deeanne Gist novel I had read I would never read another one. I've read and enjoyed her book A Bride Most Begrudging but this one just wasn't my cup of tea. It just seemed to drag on and on and there is not a traditional happily ever after for Essie. It has a good message but the men in this book leave much to be desired.

Content: Implied sex no details just unbuttoned clothing and talk of possible resulting pregnancy, passionate kissing
Profile Image for Rachel Brand.
1,043 reviews95 followers
March 27, 2014
This is a really tough one to rate, and I still feel really conflicted about how I feel about this book hours after finishing it. I'll start with the things I did enjoy.

Essie was an unconventional heroine. Although she longed for a husband and family, she also appreciated her independence, and was interested in modern inventions, like the bicycle and roller skates. I loved that she expressed her creativity in her vast hat collection, and it was fun to witness her interacting with the townspeople--from the children at the orphanage to the customers at the store where she worked. She was definitely a realistic heroine, right down to her flaws and insecurities about still being single at the age of thirty.

There was a reasonable amount of humour in this book, and there were definitely several moments that made me smile, particularly at the beginning of the novel when Essie is trying to get Hamilton's attentions by helping out in his store. The humour peters out as the story progresses and Essie's conflicts stop being so humorous and become a little heart-breaking.

Essie's story is relatable. I have no idea what it feels like to be unmarried at the age of thirty, since I married two months before my twenty-first birthday, but even I've experienced the heartbreak of pursuing someone only to find out that they were stringing you along or that they didn't share the same feelings. I can't say I've ever made a list of men I thought I might snag as a husband, but I'm sure there's been at least one time in my life when I tried to convinced myself that a certain guy would make a good husband just because he was there and he paid attention to me. If I'd had to wait as long as Essie, with no husband coming along, who is to say that I wouldn't have got as desperate as her?

A lot of reviewers commented that it didn't seem realistic for a good, Christian woman like Essie to give herself up to Adam before they were married, but being a Christian doesn't stop you from having insecurities and giving into the heat of passion. Especially given Essie's vulnerable state--rejected by Hamilton, mocked for being a spinster--I found it entirely believable that she would let herself be swept away by Adam. Yes, he's not at all what she was looking for--but he was the only man paying her any attention, and he seemed to like her for who she was, not feeling at all embarrassed by her bicycle riding, etc. Essie made a mistake, and I can guarantee you that she's not the only Christian woman to find herself in that position.

Essie beats herself up a lot for her "indiscretion" with Adam, and while my heart broke over her refusal to forgive herself, I appreciate the turn the story took with Essie's relationship with her mother. There were a couple of really touching scenes where they talked, and Essie's mother encouraged her to accept God's forgiveness and move on with her life. I feel like too many novels focus on how a character is "ruined" by a mistake like this, and fail to acknowledge that redemption is always possible, and that past sexual sin does not stop you from having a long and happy marriage.

I also appreciated the message about not changing yourself to win a man, as Essie tries to do with Ewing, in giving up her bicycle and her fancy hats to impress the members of his congregation. And of course, the overarching message of the novel is one that I'm sure a lot of women will appreciate: don't force a relationship that isn't working, and have faith in God to write your love story.

What didn't I like?

Well, as much as I appreciate the messages this book contained, I felt like I was being beaten over the head with them. I love, love, love a subtly woven spiritual message, but this one was not subtle. I felt so aware of the message that the author was trying to convey that it constantly tugged me out of the flow of the story and made it hard for me to focus on the characters. Yes, I think all of the messages in this book were relevant and that we all need reminding of them, but I did wish they could have been better integrated into the story. I read Never the Bride recently, which is a contemporary novel with a very similar message, and perhaps my enjoyment of this book is overshadowed by that one, because I never felt preached at in Never the Bride. With this book, I felt like I was reading a Victorian cautionary, moral tale for impressionable young ladies. Being aware of the author's intention can definitely take away from your enjoyment of a novel.

I'm still not entirely sure how I felt about the narrative style of this book. First, the author tells the story mostly from Essie's perspective, but occasionally includes sections from Hamilton, Adam and Ewing. There were only a few occasions where she did this, and I'm not sure if they were altogether necessary. There were at least one of Hamilton and Ewing's that added to the plot, but I don't feel like Adam's added anything. Second, some of the scenes were incredibly short, barely more than a page, which didn't exactly make the book feel fast-paced, just choppy.

Although it's made clear that Essie's past sins have been forgiven that she's been made anew through Christ's redemption, I did feel like there were still some lingering remnants of guilt over her mistake. I wasn't a big fan of Ewing at all, especially when he says that he's "devastated" that Essie gave herself to Adam rather than waiting for him--when he never expressed his feelings for her before, and gave her no indication that he was coming back for her. There was definitely an uncomfortable sense of entitlement in Ewing's character, and I am not a big fan of silently praying for X to be your future wife/husband without ever giving them a clue of how you feel, then being angry when they take up with someone else. I felt like Ewing lumped even more guilt on to Essie, when she was already struggling to forgive herself.

Then, towards the end of the story, it's made clear that the elders of Ewing's church will not accept Essie as his wife if she's committed the sexual sin that is being rumoured around town. While Ewing acknowledges how damaging gossip can be (something that I have personally experienced and I wish more Christian books would acknowledge!) I kind of wished he'd got more angry at the elders for their treatment of Essie. There was no forgiveness or redemption on their part towards Essie--her mistake would be held over her forever, making her never suitable to be a pastor's wife. Personally, I'd much rather my pastor and his family weren't perfect, because that makes them a whole lot more relatable, and shows that they have personal experience of Christ's forgiveness and grace. These church elders showed absolutely no grace, and I wish this had been addressed more.

Urgh. Honestly, I really want to rate this book higher. I loved Essie's unconventionality and the message is one that really needs to be told more, and I do actually want to read the next book and see how Essie gets on in her life. But this wasn't a book I was desperate to get back to, simply because I didn't feel totally comfortable with the narrative style, and the not-at-all subtle message kept yanking me out of the flow of the story even more. And given the few things that weren't completely addressed at the end of the novel, I worry that some readers might take away the wrong message.

As such, I want to share my own story. I didn't have sex before marriage, but my husband did. In fact, he had three different sexual partners before he married me, from relationships when he was in high school. He was very open about this when we met, and I was equally open about how I wanted to save sex for marriage. He respected my decision, and in time (as he developed his faith) he came to agree with my reasons for this, but it took me longer to accept his past relationships. For a long time, I worried about how his past relationships would impact on ours, especially if we got married. But as our relationship developed and we eventually got engaged, I realised that my husband wasn't held back by his past--but I was. I was the one who was dwelling on his past mistakes, whereas he had put it all behind him and was only looking to the future. While I was worried that he was comparing me to the women he had slept with, he never gave them a moment's thought now that we were planning our lives together. I was the only one clinging to the past, when both my husband and God had put it out of mind. It took me longer to move on than it took my husband. I wish I'd let go of my worries and insecurities a lot earlier in our relationship.

Now, we've been married for nearly two years and we've been together for more than four, and I can honestly say that neither me or my husband give his past relationships a second thought. They haven't stopped us from being happy together or having a fulfilling marriage (spiritually, emotionally or physically) because we know that our God is a God of second chances, and that he doesn't let past mistakes ruin future marriages for either party. I don't want anyone to finish this book feeling that the unconventional ending is Essie's punishment for her mistake with Adam, or that the man she does marry someday is going to suffer because of that mistake. Trust me: you only suffer if you let yourself.
296 reviews2 followers
May 27, 2010
I was totally appalled at the amount of detail included in the romantic encounters in this book. I do realize that some detail was needed to fully convey to the reader the thoughts, feelings, and characters of the female protagonist and male antagonist, but the amount of detail included was totally unnecessary. It is true that the detail included is much less than in secular novels, but I have not read something this explicit in quite a while. At one point, Essie, the female protagonist, reads a dime novel of questionable character. The novel was recommended to her by Mrs. Lockhart, a supposedly Christian woman. As Essie reads the novel, she wonders if this material is acceptable reading for Christian women. Yet, a few pages more and Deeanne Gist's writing caused me to think the same thing! I was also very surprised that Bethany House would publish this book.

Having said all of that, I also did not really care for the main character. She was quite disrespectful and headstrong. Her attempts to chase and acquire a husband caused me to be rather embarrassed for her.

The plot is an old one, and there were few surprises. However, the inclusion of the velocipede was quite interesting. Several other characters were very lovable, especially Harley and Mr. Vandervoot. There were some quite humorous moments in the novel.

The message Essie receives from God (through her conversation with Harley and what follows) is most needed in today's world. Also, the author's emphasis that even those who have committed sexual sin still have worth in society is very good.

Overall, though, I was quite disappointed in this book. I definitely cannot keep it in my house and risk my daugher reading it. I will not buy the sequel.
This entire review has been hidden because of spoilers.
Profile Image for Laura.
559 reviews91 followers
January 24, 2023
This was not a story for me. I almost quit the book around 45%. I guessed what the redeeming qualities would be, but it still wasn’t a worth while read for me. I speed listened just to finish the story. I won’t be following up with the sequel.
Profile Image for Jennybug.
601 reviews8 followers
February 12, 2011
I was not sure if I was going to read this or not, because I already read the sequel. I am so gad that I did. I learned so much about judging. After reading about Essie and all that she went through I liked her character so much more. I actually want to go back and read Deep in the Heart of Trouble again. I should probably go back and give that book 5 stars, also. These books went so well together. I also love the religion in this book. The only thing disappointing was that because I read them out of order I already knew some of what was going to happen. It had me wondering if when I first read about Adam if I would have liked him or if I would have known he was a good for nothing, skirt chasing, philanderer. I guess I'll never know.
Profile Image for Kathy.
2,051 reviews588 followers
June 28, 2015
I was pretty disappointed in this book. I thought it would be more of a light-hearted romance. It is about an "old" spinster (she's 30) who is fed up with being single. So she writes up a list of all the eligible bachelors in her town, closed her eyes and points. That is how she decides who she will marry. After chosing the first man she then tries persuing him, things don't work out so she is on to the next one. But, a stranger comes to town and sweeps her off her feet, and the story goes down hill from there.
Profile Image for Margaret Chind.
3,139 reviews212 followers
February 18, 2020
I am very much so looking forward to the sequel of this book! Sometimes there are topics that people who have experience certain things are hurting terribly to tell someone to get opinions and help in a way, but the policies of society closes their mouths and keeps them alone in thought. Essie is a girl that is getting to a spinster age and wants nothing to do with it and seeks out herself a husband. Not only is she becoming an old maid at age 30, but she like hats, and gasp rides a bicycle (This is 1894 in Texas). Her first goal for a husband ends up getting baffled, but not before she moves onto desiring a drifter cowboy. This is where confusion and emotions play apart. I would really recommend this book for every girl and woman to read. Even men really. Sometimes you want something so badly that you are willing to break rules to get it, and do not even realize that the rules that you are breaking will take it completely from your grasp as well as effect the rest of your life. Who would imagine that something private you take part in effects everyone you know and love. The basic tells of this story is not of a spinster who looks and searches for her one true love, although that does happen. It is about a woman who wants to be loved so much, and doesn't realize that she already is. Jesus Christ is the one man who will love all no matter what they do, and the hard part in many peoples lives is how we can overlook that fact and get our lives to a ruining stand point before we realize we do not have to go searching just accept.

I recommend this book for anyone. But especially for those who knew me when I was age 16 and 17. This story will explain a lot to them and perhaps render some understanding into what fools we humans can be, but how we can grow and seek the right kind of love.
Profile Image for Kristin.
866 reviews29 followers
May 30, 2011
Loved this book! Deeanne Gist has yet to disappoint me. I was intrigued by the blurb, which mentions that thirty year old Essie makes a list of eligible bachelors and randomly chooses one to pursue. This sounded like a romantic comedy-type premise, which it was at first. But I had no idea that her desire for a husband would lead to so much heartache. Due to a part of the plot, a section of this book is likely slightly more graphic than most Christian historical fiction novels are, but it's never inappropriate. I had no idea how things would turn out, and I thought to myself that I probably wouldn't read the sequel. Honestly, for the first half or so of the book, I couldn't relate to Essie very much. But that quickly changed, especially over the last few chapters. This book had a lesson that I truly needed, and towards the end Essie had some of the exact same thoughts I've had. I was so impressed, even with the end, which I know many people disliked because it's not your average "happy ending." Still, now I can't wait to get my hands on the sequel! :)
Profile Image for Jessica.
182 reviews
September 16, 2008
I actually rather liked this book. The story was at times a bit silly and her rather "un-feminine" (nearly feminist) attitude irked me at times, but there was something that I liked about "Courting Trouble".
The mindset of many Christian girls today is one of, "I must get married or I'll just die", and in "Courting Trouble" Essie goes through the same thing. She's 30. She's lonely. All she wants is a husband and children. She decides if she can just have a husband then she'll be happy and fulfilled and won't have a care in the world. But when she reaches the age of 30 she decides that God isn't providing and she needs to "just do it her own way" it gets her into more trouble than she'd ever imagined. It's when she finally realizes that she needs to let God be God and wait for His special timing (even if that means she'll never marry) that she feels truly fulfilled and truly happy as well.

Not your typical "Happily Ever After" story, but a sweet one.

Profile Image for Jannea.
4 reviews
April 2, 2013
I was not impressed with this book. I have read many of her books and they have been on my "wall of fame" bookshelf but this one went on the back shelf of stinkers. This thirty-year-old woman gets it in her head to get married and aggressivly courts eligible men. She makes every blunder and mistake and fails miserably. Then she falls in love with a rogue and gets laid under a willow tree. They get caught by the sheriff and she is ruined. End of book. She wrote two more in the series. I read one, and it just continued the tragedy with her failing at being an old maid. She has many other books well worth the time, but this one would be one to skip.
Profile Image for Mypupdaisy.
15 reviews
April 8, 2014
First half of the book was great and then it takes a bad turn. The author ruined a good story by involving sex. There's a bad problem today in our world where it has just become acceptable to have sex before marriage. Would have been nice if the author centered on Christian values of waiting and why she should have instead of focusing on a woman who couldn't hold off before marriage to have sex with the town drifter.
Profile Image for Abby.
450 reviews
May 31, 2011
Seriously?! The only reason why I'm not giving this book one star is that I'm sure there's someone out there that can 100% identify with it and treasure it. The larger part of me, though, protests and is shouting out, 'Why in the world would someone write a book like this?!'. Maybe a person just has to be in the mood for it, and I know I, for one, never will be.
Profile Image for Tiffany.
10 reviews2 followers
September 20, 2010
I love this author! This was a fun, quick read. I can't wait for the next book to come out....
Profile Image for Sheri.
160 reviews2 followers
October 13, 2010
Yuck. So many things in this book bothered me. And the ending sucked.
Profile Image for R.J. Rodda.
Author 4 books56 followers
September 25, 2020
I thought from the cover this would be a typical by-the-numbers story by Bethany House but my genre expectations were confounded!!!

******Spoiler alert: It was a light, kind-of-humorous story set in pioneer America but although it starts off with a main character wanting to marry it ends up with her not marrying! And there's sex along the way. Hmmm maybe Christian books are changing. I raised my eyebrows but found it entertaining enough to borrow the next one from the library (which I suspect will end up with her finding a husband).

I found the search for a husband relatable and even the idea of being in a country town and assessing all the available men and seeing drawbacks to all of them yet still deciding to pursue one imperfect man because of the overwhelming desire to be married.

This actually ended up being a journey about her finding contentment with her relationship with Christ and not needing a man to be happy which is not the kind of journey you suspect from a book looking like this.
This entire review has been hidden because of spoilers.
Profile Image for Sally Poyzer.
Author 1 book20 followers
October 16, 2020
I really enjoyed this book. I loved the ending, especially since I didn't see it coming (which is very rare in this genre!). The fairly detailed lead up to sex was surprising in a Christian novel - I definitely wouldn't recommend this for younger readers - but I appreciated the conviction and repentence.
This entire review has been hidden because of spoilers.
Profile Image for Michelle R.
68 reviews
June 15, 2018
This was a charming book that didn’t end up going how I thought it would, but I was delighted all the same. So much so I ordered the next book to see what happens to Essie.
Profile Image for Cheryl-Lynn.
866 reviews9 followers
August 22, 2020
Essie is a fun character! I enjoyed many of her antics but not all her choices. It certainly didn't end how I expected but it was a realistic ending which I can appreciate in a book.
Profile Image for Cecelia.
Author 34 books172 followers
May 28, 2011


Courting Trouble by Deeanne Gist

This book was amazing! It's probably the best book I've read so far in 2011! If you haven't read this book then I think you should go and purchase your copy today!

Essie is an old maid - she's just turned 30 and she wants a husband right now! Her desire for a mate spurns her to do a number of things to catch a man: she keeps a list of all of the town's eligible bachelors along with their positive and negative traits. She offers help to the owner of the general store - hoping her employ will develop into a relationship with the shopkeeper. Her impulsive behavior continues with other men, resulting in her making some dreadful mistakes that haunt her throughout the story.

Essie is wild, carefree, and she loves to ride her bicycle! I never knew that riding a bike could prove so scandalous back in historical times. She loves the outdoors and she loves snakes and bugs and all sorts of things. Her behavior is not one most men would consider for a mate.

I found myself carried back in time and I really felt for Essie and her desire to have a husband. Back then, most people married young, and she was considered an outcast because she was a scandalous old maid and although she has admiration from many of the males in the town, she doesn't receive many offers of marriage.

I felt the characters in this book were so well-developed and the dialogue was superb! The shopkeeper Hamilton, the cowboy Adam, and Ewing - the nemesis from her childhood, all have a unique role in Essie's life. I also loved how Essie really cared for people - she has a soft spot for Harley, an orphan in the story, and there were other things she did that showed that she really cared about people.

The book is funny, entertaining and the story just draws you in. I savored every word of this book and after I was finished, I found myself going back, reading certain passages that stuck with me - it is EXTREMELY RARE for me to do this! This is the first book I've ever read by this author and I'm anxious to read more stories by Deeanne Gist! I have the sequel on my to-be-read pile. I've had this book for a few years now, but never got around to reading it until last weekend and I'm so glad I did! What a pleasant way to spend my time!

Have you read this novel? If so, what did you think about it?

~Cecelia Dowdy~

Profile Image for Loraine.
2,954 reviews
January 1, 2015
SUMMARY: Tired of Waiting for a Match-Made-in-Heaven,
She'll Settle for One Made in Texas

Whether it's riding bikes, catching snakes, or sliding down banisters, Essie Spreckelmeyer just can't quite make herself into the ideal woman her hometown--and her mother--expect her to be. It's going to take an extraordinary man to appreciate her joy and spontaneity--or so says her doting oil-man father.

Unfortunately such a man doesn't appear to reside in Corsicana, Texas.

It's 1894, the year of Essie's thirtieth birthday, and she decides the Lord has more important things to do than provide her a husband. If she wants one, she needs to catch him herself. So, she writes down the names of all the eligible bachelors in her small Texas town, makes a list of their attributes and drawbacks, closes her eyes, twirls her finger, and ... picks one.

But convincing the lucky "husband-to-be" is going to a bit more of a problem.

Join Deeanne Gist for another unforgettable tale and find out whether Essie's plan to catch a husband succeeds or if she's just Courting Trouble.

REVIEW: Essie is a feisty, independent woman whose modern ideas are off-putting to the male species. Essie was a great character because she represents all women. We all lose our way, put our focus in the wrong places, settle for less than the best, and need second chances when we make mistakes that can cost us the joy in our lives if we let it rather than focusing on the first and foremost thing - Jesus Christ. I look forward to reading the sequel Deep in the Heart of Trouble.

FAVORITE QUOTES: "You cannot make yourself righteous by simply changing your behavior....What I mean is that when Christ died on that cross, He took your sin upon himself. The very one you committed...As well as all the ones you have committed in the past and will commit in the future...Have you so little appreciation for His sacrifice that you would fling it back in His face by trying to earn your way to heaven?...What is God's mercy if we never had need of it?"

Profile Image for Bookcrazy.
1,018 reviews
August 7, 2016
Zuerst mal, was ist denn "Die eigenwillige Jungfrau" für ein dämlicher Buchtitel, wenn im Vergleich dazu das Original "Courting Trouble" heißt?!

Die Handlung des Buches spielt in Texas um 1894.
Essi Spreckelmeyer wird bald 30 und noch immer ist kein Heiratskandidat in Sicht, nicht mal ansatzweise. Sie scheint übrig zu bleiben. An ihrem 30. Geburtstag hat sie genug, und sie nimmt ihre Liebesangelegenheiten selbst in die Hand, erstellt eine Liste mit Pros und Kontras und wählt schließlich einen Kandidaten aus, der in Frage kommt. Sie springt über ihren Schatten und drängt sich ihm ein wenig auf, so dass sie Zeit mit ihm verbringen kann. Doch wird er ihre Gefühle erwidern?

Man leidet wirklich mit Essie mit, besonders als zum Beispiel ihr Picknickkorb nicht ersteigert wird. Fies. Essie ist ein lebenslustige, etwas unkonventionelle Frau für die damalige Zeit. So fährt sie gerne mit ihrem Fahrrad durch die Gegend und trägt außergewöhnliche Hüte. Erstaunlich war nur, dass sie Angst hatte als alte Jungfrau über zu bleiben, wo doch das Thema (Jungfrau) gar nicht mehr aktuell war.

Insgesamt hat mir das Buch ziemlich gut gefallen. Ein wenig traurig bin ich, dass nicht alle drei der Bücher, die ich in einem 3er-Pack bei Weltbild gekauft habe, von Essie handeln bzw. nicht mal alle der gleichen Reihe (The trouble with Brides-Reihe) angehören. Doof. Essie war natürlich teilweise ziemlich naiv, aber das passt einfach zu der Zeit, aber blieb eigentlich immer sympathisch. Auch ihre Eltern haben für die damalige Zeit großteils ziemlich cool reagiert.
Durch eine Goodreads-Review war ich ein wenig auf den religiösen Aspekt im letzten Drittel vorgewarnt und deshalb kam ich ganz gut damit zu recht. Ich war jetzt nicht begeistert, aber es war okay. Hab herausgefunden, dass Deeanne Gist hauptsächlich Christian Historical Romance schreibt, also kommt man wohl am Religions-Thema in ihren Romanen nicht vorbei.

Freue mich schon auf ein Wiedersehen mit Essie.

3,75 ;)

Profile Image for Melissa’s Bookshelf.
1,885 reviews60 followers
May 20, 2014
Wow! This is not your typical Christian historical romance. This really had a deep message that I took to heart and think many women would benefit from. This book went from having a funny almost slapstick beginning to a heart wrenching story that has the heroine Essie having to make some really difficult decisions and realizing that actions have consequences. I also liked the main message that you can't expect other people to fulfill the voids in your life. It shows that no matter how much you want something, no matter how good the desire, it isn't always up to us. In other words, God's timing is not always our timing.

The story begins with a 30 year old woman who is living in the late 1800's and isn't married. She wants so badly to be married and have children and decides to take matters into her own hands. Essie is unconventional. She likes to bicycle, fish, and do adventurous things that typical women at the time thought were inappropriate for women to do, including her mother. As she tries to find a husband, Essie has three possible suitors who each try to change her into something she's not. She is confronted with real temptation and sorrow. While some of the scenes are sensual, they don't cross the line into too much detail/inappropriateness, but the reader is very aware of what is happening. This is Christian fiction and so repentance and grace are definitely a part of this as well as surrendering our will to God. Some of the doctrine didn't necessarily agree with my own beliefs, but the overall message did and was very positive. The ending of this book is really unconventional which I liked. It wasn't predictable and kept me reading way into the night. I wasn't sure until the last chapter how things would end. There is a sequel which I'm dying to read to find out what happens to Essie.
Profile Image for Dawn.
563 reviews24 followers
June 2, 2016
If I had based it on the way this book began, my rating would have been three rather than four. When we're introduced to Essie, she's...a lot to take in. A very in-your-face personality that leaps off the pages of the book and feels more caricature than character. I was prepared for a somewhat silly read, with a few Christian references sprinkled in. And then I got to meet the well-developed townsfolk...and more importantly to get past my initial impression of Essie. By the midway point, I was turning pages as quickly as I could, and I really liked Essie. She's real and flawed and deeply broken in some ways that really wormed into my heart. I just wanted to hug her. What started out as something of an eye roll for me rapidly grew into a truly heartwarming story that gave me some pause with its heady life lessons. I'm pretty sure there are few things more enjoyable than a book that surprises you with its warmth and depth. What an unexpected little treasure.
Profile Image for Andrew Hildreth.
145 reviews18 followers
July 17, 2011
In thinking back and really reviewing the book, I discovered a little more I saw and have gotten out of it. It took me until the middle of the book to get me hooked to where it was hard to put it down. I saw myself in several character roles throughout this book, some good and some bad. But, by the very end, I saw myself in a character's role I didn't expect, which was also where I received the most revelation from. In my own life, I was seemingly trying to fill certain voids instead of letting God fill those voids when the time is right. It helped me to see that I need to take things in perspective and at one step at a time. God knows my needs and desires even though I want to take things into my own hands and at my pace. I need to step back and trust Him. It's a struggle, but it wasn't intended to be easy. This is a very good book with a very well written and absorbing story. (This was my first from this author and this genre).

(Previously reviewed on March 20, 2010)
Profile Image for Leni Sauls.
42 reviews
November 9, 2014
If I could have, I would have given this book NO STARS. This book is a complete waste of time. It is one in a continuing story, as well as, boring. You are led to believe that it is a romance book, but, it is not. Essie the main character is too stupid to be believed, even back in 1874 she would have been considered dumb as far as men and relationships go. She is 30 years old for pity sake. What I can't take is how the reader is led to believe that it is a romance when it clearly isn't. I was so disgusted that I threw the book away after I read it. Don't for pity sake waste your time with this piece of crap. I know I won't be reading anymore of Deeanne Gist's books if this is a sample of her writing. Skip it and save yourself some time to go watch grass grow, it would be much more interesting.
Profile Image for Charlotte.
15 reviews
July 31, 2008
I thought A Measure of a Lady was the greatest book until I read this. Essie was so much more loveable and lived her life to the fullest. She was very easy to relate to as well. I always thought that women always worried about finding a husband (some of them anyway) and that as they aged, they became more desperate and foolish that they forgot the most important things when it comes to finding that perfect relationship. You must love yourself before you can love others. And, God must be first in your life and your heart and you must trust in him completely before he will bestow you one of the greatest pleasures this world can offer. This book was so great and helped me a great deal personally as well. I believe I've found my very first official favorite author.
Profile Image for Mayda.
3,022 reviews57 followers
August 9, 2013
In this charming Christian tale, Essie Spreckelmeyer, a woman unlike most other women and definitely ahead of her time, is a woman with a mission. And that mission is to be married. At age 30 in the year 1894, she is already being referred to as a spinster. And although she has many skills, bicycling, expert selling techniques, frog-catching, and snake-catching, man-catching is not one of her skills. But Essie has her own unconventional way of doing things, and giving up is not an option. However, she commits a grave error in judgment. Essie has some serious decisions to make, and, with God’s guidance, she is able to find happiness. This story has a somewhat surprising yet quite satisfying ending. All I can say, without giving away too much, is good for you, Essie. You go girl!
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