The Vigilante's Bride is Yvonne Harris' debut historical fiction novel.
The year is 1884, and in Chicago Emily McCarthy, 18 years old, finds herself in a difficult position. She has been raised in an orphanage, but now they need room to start teaching and housing some Indian children. Those who run the orphanage encourage Emily to accept a bride advertisement and go to Montana to marry a wealthy widower, Bartholomew Axel. Emily has absolutely no desire to do this, but since she can't find a job anywhere she doesn't see any other choice.
Luke Sullivan has a tragic past that returns to the forefront of his mind when he catches a criminal while working with the vigilante Committee he is a part of, under his ranch employer. The criminal leads him to believe that the gambling loss that his father suffered (and began the troubles that would befall his family for years to come) was not the honest loss they all had believed - but a cheat. So, when Luke gets the chance to try and make things even with Bartholomew Axel, he takes it - only he doesn't find Bart in the stagecoach but his mail-order bride. He decides, in a split second, to "rescue" her from her fate - only to find she might not want to be rescued.
And Bart Axel is a dangerous, powerful man, and he wants his bride...
So, to be honest with y'all the title The Vigilante's Bride and the cover come across to me as a bit cheesy - one of those books that, if you aren't totally confident in your reading selection, could be embarrassed about being caught reading. But I do love the font of the cover, and really a title and cover do not a good book make. ;)
I've been dying to read some historical fiction/romance lately and I got my wish. Only thing is that The Vigilante's Bride, though an enjoyable read, isn't as rich as I'd hoped it would be. Though I was immediately interested in Emily's situation, and was sympathetic for her - and think she is highly accessible to YA readers, as she is only 18 - I found the plot to be uneven.
Luke's introduction as a reluctant vigilante with a tragic past began to speed things up a bit, and he does give the impression of a hot, strong cowboy... but it's not until we learn more about what happened to him and his family as a child that I felt the real punch of emotion I'd been lacking. Yet, that again dwindled.
My main problem, I think, with The Vigilante's Bride was that the characters were stale. We never really get to know them beyond the surface of things, the barest of personality. When every once in a while we delved a little deeper, I liked it immensely better but sadly that happened too few of times for me to be truly satisfied or invested in either Emily or Luke, nor their impending romantic chemistry.
Don't get me wrong though - The Vigilante's Bride was an enjoyable read. I was never bored or tempted to put it aside. Emily's feisty, redheaded personality came across as cliche at points, but her haughty lines were quite often funny. The switching viewpoints kept the storyline moving, and there's always time to read a nice, fun western historical romance, right? Plus, there is an inspiring tone to the novel that encourages redemption and second chances.
It's just with Emily's prissiness (in my opinion), the plot's muddled finale, and lack of depth overall, I just never reached that point of loving the characters, which is the main reason I didn't adore The Vigilante's Bride.
But you may completely disagree with me! So, please don't take my word for it! Jump in the late 1800s Montana ranchland, and read a certainly in no way "bad" novel: The Vigilante's Bride. You may think I'm crazy, and fall absolutely bananas for Emily's stubbornness and Luke's masculine, tough-guy heart. So read it! :)
*I received a copy of The Vigilante's Bride from the Bethany House Book Reviewers program, which you can check out here. Their generosity in no way influenced, or sought to influence, my opinion of the novel.