Book Review: "Deeply Devoted" by Maggie Brendan

Summary from When Catharine Olsen leaves Holland for Wyoming as a mail-order bride, she brings some extra baggage with her: two sisters, her mother's set of Blue Willow china, and a tragic past. As she steps off the train, Peter Andersen is glad to see that she is everything her letters showed her to be. But he is a bit perturbed by her unexpected companions. How will he support them all? And what other secrets might Catharine be keeping from him? Filled with sweet romance and vivid characters, Deeply Devoted highlights a clash of cultures as a highborn European and a simple wheat farmer learn to love one another and trust God with the past--and the future.

I really don't think I am a romance reader anymore. While I was never a huge fan of the genre, I found most Christian historical romances enjoyable in the past. Lately though, I feel like the stories are making me jaded. I'm not enjoying them the way I used to. Unfortunately this book falls into that category.

I usually like stories about mail order brides. I find the concept fascinating and terrifying for the women who went through this process. This is actually one of the few foreign mail order brides that I've read in Christian fiction so I found the twist to be unique. Not only did Catharine have to adjust living with someone she never met but she also had to adapt to a new country as well.

However, I never once clicked with Peter or Catharine. I think it all started when it's made known immediately that Catharine never told Peter that her sisters were coming with her to live with them. She says that she did it because she was afraid he'd say no, but you know what? He had every right to say no! All of a sudden now he's suppose to provide for 2 additional people that he had no idea about? What if he couldn't afford to keep them? She just didn't think and it really made me irritated and not a good way for me to get into the book. This is just one of the many secrets that the couple keeps from each other. Throw in a mother in law who is a big snoop and you have a recipe for trouble. I kept wishing that someone would just say something but no. The whole story revolves around people not telling the truth, the other party finding out the truth but not telling the other person they know the truth and everyone pretending everything's ok on the outside.

I also got very agitated at an exchange between the couple. Catharine is asking Peter about the soldiers in the area. Peter tells her "don't worry your pretty little head" about them. Instead of being insulted or offended by this comment, she is FLATTERED because she thinks he's telling her she's pretty! I was seriously disgusted by the way she is portrayed here and I asked others how they would feel and they all felt the same way I did. I can only guess that the author is trying to show Catharine as having low self esteem or something like that because otherwise this just seems that all anyone cares about is appearances and not smarts.

I did appreciate the presence of divorce during the time period and involving Christians to show that sometimes it is necessary. The author does also show the research that she did extensively in her notes at the end of the book.
I did find it interesting that Peter's mother has secrets as well and is not the uppity woman she tries to be. I feel like there will be more to the sisters' stories in the future because I did not feel like I got to know them very much in this story. Unfortunately I don't think I'll be reading it after the way I felt with this book. I do think however that most fans of mail order brides and Christian historical fiction will enjoy this book.

Deeply Devoted by
Maggie Brendan is published by Revell (2011)

This review copy was provided by the publisher


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