Soon after the Civil War, Ewan McKay ventures to West Virginia to help his uncle purchase and run a brickmaking business. The one they decide to purchase is currently owned by a war widow and her daughter who are forced to sell. Ewan is soon drawn to the intelligent daughter of the former owner, Laura, whose knowledge of business and brickmaking certainly impresses him. But Laura has been courted for years by a successful lawyer from the area – one who is an aspiring politician and who already knows the secret she holds.
When Ewan’s uncle makes a deal that puts the brickworks in jeopardy, his future seems hopeless. With Laura’s help, will Ewan be able to save the brickworks? And will he also be able to win Laura’s heart?
The Brickmaker’s Bride is the first in the “Refined by Love” series by Judith Miller.
For a small change of pace, I decided to put a post-Civil War-era book into my repertoire. I tend to shy away from Civil War-era books for some reason, but this one caught my eye.
Usually I am very interested in discovering different eras in history and the processes and things that go along with them, especially things that I don’t know much about. I definitely know nothing about brickmaking, but I was less than thrilled with the descriptions of making bricks in this book. It was sometimes tedious and didn’t always flow well with the rest of the story. The tension over the bad deal that Ewan’s uncle made kept the plot going, but it sometimes seemed as if it was just all too much. I just kept wanting poor Ewan to catch a break.
The romance between Laura and Ewan was sweet, but the main characters themselves seemed to lack a depth that would have made them more endearing to the reader. I’m not sure what more could have been done to achieve this depth. The dialogue for the most part was good, but I felt as if the main characters didn’t experience too much growth overall. I just didn’t feel connected to Laura or Ewan, and most of the minor characters were over-the-top and annoying. I was at least satisfied with the end of the book and how Laura and Ewan’s story was wrapped up.
Even though I didn’t feel as if Laura and Ewan grew too much in this novel, there were still some important spiritual themes that were explored. Some of these were leaning on God during difficult times, not compromising your integrity (especially in business), and knowing that no one is too far gone to be redeemed. Although I felt as if these themes sometimes didn’t go quite deep enough and sometimes left Christ out of the picture, they still redeemed the book a bit for me.
Overall, The Brickmaker’s Bride seemed to have two different personalities. It wanted to be a sweet romantic story, but too many historical details and annoying minor characters got in the way. On the other hand, it wanted to be a fiction novel pertaining to the business of brickmaking in the second half of the 1800s, but the romance seemed to be just tacked on for good measure. Maybe it was just me, but for some reason, the two didn’t seem to click together very well.
Even though there were some bumps along the way, The Brickmaker’s Bride is a sweet romantic story that takes place during an especially hard time in our nation’s history.
I will give The Brickmaker's Bride ... 3 BookWorms.
The Brickmaker's Bride
by Judith Miller
"Refined by Love" #1
Bethany House Publishers
Publication date: October 7, 2014
Disclosure of Material Connection: I received this book free from Bethany House Publishers. 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."