A Most Unsuitable Match by Stephanie Grace Whitson was sent to me as a review copy by Bethany House/Baker Publishing Group.
What is a young, respectable lady in 1869 to do after the deaths of both her mother and her father? Find a suitable match, of course, which is exactly where we find Fannie Rousseau at the beginning of this novel. But Fannie wants more from her life than to marry some stuffy bachelor just for his money. She wants to find true love.
When Fannie learns of a long-kept family secret, she impetuously boards a steamboat headed north from St. Charles, Missouri, to the frontier territory of Montana. On board, she meets Samuel Beck, a man on his own search for the truth, and the two form a somewhat unlikely friendship.
In the weeks and months ahead, Fannie and Samuel encounter more on their trip than they ever dreamed, both good and tragic. They discover far more than their family secrets; they discover the true path to faith and to love.
“You can’t judge a book by its cover” is the phrase I will use to sum up this book. At first glance (from the cover and from the first few chapters) I thought this would be the usual historical romance about the parents wanting their daughter to find a wealthy husband to save them from their financial ruin, etc. While the novel did seem to start out this way, once Fannie boarded the steamboat heading for Montana, the story took off to a place I wasn’t expecting (in a good way).
The romance between Fannie and Samuel went at a good pace. They had an attraction for each other, and they pursued a friendship, but they also traveled their own paths before considering the possibility of coming back to each other. The secondary characters in this book were also well-developed, which made the novel have more depth to it. I was not expecting the adventure of the rugged Montana territory (the back cover did not do a great job at previewing this book…), but it was a nice surprise.
I am left wondering a bit after reading this story why Fannie and Samuel were considered an “unsuitable match.” Fannie’s family and Samuel’s actual family were of the same social standing. (Since Samuel left his home, I am assuming that he would now be considered penniless and not worthy of a society girl.) I also disagreed with the ‘back-of-the-book’ description that Samuel and Fannie are “opposites in every way.” From the beginning, I thought they were anything but opposites! They seemed to have the same thinking on things, they both had good hearts (even though Fannie’s compassion does have room to grow, considering the way she was raised), and they are both searching for true faith. Besides the fact that every time you turned around Fannie seemed to be fainting, and Samuel was fairly rugged from the beginning, they seemed to be a good match to me!
The Bible verses that begin each chapter and are related to the story were enjoyable, but what I appreciated even more was how the characters in this novel learned to use Scripture to navigate their daily lives. How refreshing it was to see a Christian novel that had characters that turned to the word of God for their faith rather than relying on their feelings or their knowledge or their circumstances. My favorite example of this is when Fannie is thinking to herself about how Samuel believes in God.
“It seemed that his mother had had a kind of faith that took the words out of that book and put them into the decisions she made in her life. That was a far different kind of faith than Fannie knew. She prayed…but she was never certain anyone was listening. What would her life look like if she were more certain? What if she actually sought out the words in the Bible and let them rule her life? The idea was at once fascinating…and terrifying.”
Just as I judged this book by its cover, there is also a theme running through this novel that relates to not judging people by their appearances. Fannie learns that this is true when looking at others, but that it is also true in her own life. God used the most unlikely people in the Bible to do extraordinary things, and He can use each one of us today.
This is the first novel I have read by Stephanie Grace Whitson, but I look forward to reading more of her books in the future.
I will give A Most Unsuitable Match … 4 BookWorms.
Disclosure of Material Connection: I received this book free from Bethany House/Baker Publishing Group. I was not required to write a positive review. The opinions I have expressed are my own. I am disclosing this is accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s 16 CFR, Part 255: "Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising."