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Deeply Devoted

Deeply Devoted is a historical romance novel written by Maggie Brendan, with Christian readers in mind.

It's 1887 and Catharine and her two sisters, Greta and Anna, are making a risky trip to Wyoming, leaving their home of Amsterdam, Holland behind for a fresh start. For these three lovely European ladies it's a both painful and hopeful change of pace - the memory of their recently deceased parents lingering in their hearts. They couldn't bring much with them, though Catharine made sure to keep her mother's set of Blue Willow china - even though there aren't many pieces left that are whole.

The only reason they've been able to make the trip to America is that Catharine is a mail-order bride. She's corresponded with Peter Andersen, a wheat farmer, for six months after reading his ad - and has agreed to marry him. But he doesn't know she's bringing two sisters with him. Nor does he know the anguished, and possibly shameful, past that she is hiding. If she were to tell him everything, surely he would not marry her. And if he didn't, how would she fulfill her vow to take care of her sisters?

When Peter and Catharine meet, Peter is delighted with her beauty and sweetness - though he's not too happy with the surprise add-ons. Can he support three more mouths? He'll do his best. But despite their mutual attraction - can they find a deeper connection? Can love really form when both may be keeping secrets? Maybe the only way will be by trusting in God...

I'm a huge fan of inspirational historical fiction! I always wish that Jane Austen had written more, as I love that witty, fun, insightful romance in a time period that is rich and full. I'm open to trying almost any time period - though not every book can be as awesome as Miss Austen, of course.

In Deeply Devoted we meet Catharine and her sisters right when they are about ready to step off the train in Wyoming. The town that will now be their home is quaint and small, though not so tiny as not to have a nice inn and restaurant. We immediately get placed in the midst of this whirlwind marriage. The initial meeting doesn't go off without hiccups, however, as Catharine's rather large omission of bringing her sisters' along is revealed.

There's an interesting dynamic is having the two sisters with Catharine and Peter, as that's not a common occurrence in mail-order bride stories. Not that I've read a ton of them, but it seems like a fresh little difference. Greta and Anna are definitely individual and likable, and I couldn't help but wonder if the next books in the series Deeply Devoted starts off (The Blue Willow Brides) will be centered on each of them.

I liked Deeply Devoted - but I kind of had a hot/cold relationship with it. For example, the characterizations of Peter and Catharine were a bit bland and monotone for me. They lacked a spark, both chemistry-wise between the two and personality-wise as individuals. Catharine's secret pain (which we only get hints of for a long time, until an anguished reveal) gives her a bit more depth of the two, but for a long time Peter was doing absolutely nothing for me, unfortunately.

I think what it might have been, in my opinion, was Peter's eagerness. In so many ways he just seemed like a wide-eyed little boy, instead of a hardworking man that resorted to a mail-order bride to fulfill his loneliness. I'm perfectly fine with a good guy - someone who is kind and sweet to women, but he just seemed a little... unrealistic to me. Now, you may completely disagree! He could be your absolute dream man - and you may think I'm crazy - I encourage you to read Deeply Devoted for yourself!

But before you go and think I only had negative thoughts about Deeply Devoted, stick with me here. As the novel continued, more conflict was introduced in a subtle way. Most of it was by the disruption of Peter's mother, who was none too happy to find out she had a new daughter-in-law, and Catharine's continued lie of omission. And eventually Peter became more attractive to me, funnily enough it was right around the same time Catharine started thinking the same thing. He grew on me slowly, though I would never say he's a favorite male lead of mine.

Yet there was enough gentle day-to-day interactions on the farm and slow-burn closeness developing between the two, that when things started to fall apart - I cared. In fact, the best part by far, for me, was the last quarter of the book. Both characters began to show their flaws and true selves, whether they wanted to or not, and Catharine seemed to grow more of a backbone than she'd shown up to that point. I was turning pages quite swiftly, worried about them and finally feeling more involved in the story.

I did very much enjoy Deeply Devoted, and was never once bored. It flew by, as romances are apt to do. The conclusion was touching and I would be more than willing to read the next novel in the series - it's just too bad I never felt the connection to the characters that would have made Deeply Devoted ten times better for me. Again, that's just my personal opinion - and you should read the book for yourself!!!

Available September 2011 at your favorite bookseller from Revell, a division of Baker Publishing Group.

*I received a copy of Deeply Devoted from the Baker Publishing Group. Their generosity in no way influenced, nor sought to influence, my opinion of the novel.


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