I confess I'm a sap for 'marriage of convenience' stories. The idea of two people entering into marriage for the sake of convenience is intriguing. Regina Jennings managers to throw in a few twists in A Most Inconvenient Marriage.
Set Post- Civil War, a 'Yankee' nurse Abigail Stuart agrees to marry her 'favorite' patient Captain Jeremiah Calhoun on his deathbed promising to look after his farm in the Ozarks along with his mother and sister. As his widow, she would be given the rights to his horse farm. A 'marriage of convenience' will serve them both as Abigail has nowhere to go and Jeremiah needs someone to look after his property.
Upon arriving at the Calhoun farm, her reception is met with mixed reviews. Jeremiah's mother 'Ma' Calhoun is thrilled to have her and insists Abigail call her 'Ma'. By contrast, Jeremiah's ill sister Rachel is less-than-thrilled and has a temperamental disposition.
After a few months of posing as Captain Calhoun's widow, Jeremiah shows up at his family's farm; very much alive and demanding to know Abigail's reasons for being on his property. Abigail is perplexed when the handsome soldier before her claims to be Jeremiah Calhoun...he doesn't resemble the soldier she married on his deathbed.
Can Abigail convince Jeremiah she doesn't have ulterior motives for helping out at his farm?
Can Jeremiah convince Abigail to stay before it's too late?
Having only read a novella by Regina Jennings; An Unforeseen Match (Found in A Match Made in Texas collection. Side-note: I highly recommend this collection of 4 novellas. I thought it was so creative the way the first 3 stories are set up by a 'matchmaker' and in the 4th and the final story the reader gets to meet the mysterious matchmaker!) it wet my appetite to read more books by Ms. Jennings. A Most Inconvenient Marriage held my attention and kept me up late reading for several nights WAY past my bedtime!
Abigail was such a refreshing heroine. There was no guile in her character. She's not afraid of hard work and she's willing to work hard whether it is on the farm or helping patients. Abigail is compassionate, but firm with her patients. She speaks her mind and I found this extremely energizing.
Jeremiah is similarly matched to Abigail in the fact that he also works hard on the farm when he returns from the war. Despite his injured leg he still works hard and pushes himself to his limits. I thought that both Jeremiah and Abigail's willingness to work hard was a commendable trait. I also really liked that Jeremiah was fiercely protective of his family and his farm.
Jeremiah and Abigail's relationship slowly developed. I liked this because it seemed more realistic. After a bit of a bumpy start they become friends and then the friendship turned into deeper feelings for both of them. I found Jeremiah and Abigail's repartee amusing....it made me anxious to get to the next scene with these two characters to see what kind of verbal sparring there would be. Just one of many examples listed below.
'He cleared his throat. "You should've warned me."
"Well, I'm warning you now. We can't stay here."
"You have one of two choices. You can spend the night with those men who are right now sitting in the overlooks and passes, waiting for us to try to sneak past, or you can stay safe here with me."
"Safe with you?" She scowled at him. "I'm not so sure."
"I'm not the one strutting around town telling everyone we're married." (Jennings, 203)
I thought it was interesting that Ms. Jennings dealt a little with how people reacted to outsiders like Abigail. People in the community knew she was a 'Yankee.' She didn't have to say anything. Clearly, there was still bitterness and animosity towards other particularly outsiders like Abigail. The Civil War didn't magically change that...the lingering affects lasted long afterward.
Both Jeremiah and Abigail were believers and their relationship with Christ seems genuine. Both characters pray silently to Him several times throughout the story and also recalling scripture in times of trouble or at various points in the novel. I appreciate that God wasn't added as an afterthought.
Not sure I 'felt' any particular way after finishing this book. I simply enjoyed it as a story and good 'escapism' fiction.
I look froward to reading more of Ms. Jennings' books. She's a gifted writer and the Christian fiction genre is blessed to have her talent.