A review of the book The Orphan Bride by Brandi Gabriel. Christian Historical Western Fiction.
The Orphan Bride by Brandi Gabriel is a book about the power of God, and His redeeming love, even in the face of a potentially impossible situation. It is 1883 and seventeen-year-old Lucy Weber’s time on the orphan train has just run out. No one adopted her when she was a child so now she must marry any man who will have her at the train’s next stop. When the train pulls into Saddle, Texas it looks like Lucy’s only recourse is to accept the proposal of the leering and frightening Clem Toeger, who claims to be Christian, although all his actions say otherwise. At the last minute, quiet and kindly Garrett Black appears. Garrett isn’t looking for a wife, but something compelled him to step into the church where Clem is planning to make Lucy his wife. Garrett knows Clem, and his awful reputation, and he knows he mustn’t let the marriage take place. With the backing of the local minister, Garrett is able to marry Lucy instead, thus protecting her from Clem. Garrett further shows his kindness and his Christian heart by agreeing to adopt Lucy’s five-year-old friend, Joan, who, after three years of being in Lucy’s care, is more like her daughter.
The new family of three begins an unfamiliar journey, getting to know one another, trust one another, and navigate the new relationships that have been created. The story of the orphan Lucy’s assimilation into the ready-made and large family of Garrett’s extended relations is a lovely touch–the girl who hasn’t known the love and security of a family for years suddenly finds herself blessed with many people to care for her. This adds depth and heart to the story, giving us characters to root for. The fatherly role that Garrett assumes for Joan’s benefit, the sub-plot of whether Lucy might someday be reunited with her long lost twin brother, Travis, and danger in the form of Clem Toeger, who repeatedly threatens and harasses Lucy, give us emotionally satisfying plots to entertain and outrage the reader in turn. Perhaps the most uplifting aspect of the story is how Garrett does not insist that Lucy begin performing the physical aspects of her wifely duties immediately, instead waiting patiently until she is ready. By putting her needs before his own he assures that true love accompanies their physical and emotional intimacy.
The characters’ love for, and reliance on God is inspiring and Lucy’s prayer at the beginning of the story, Please, God, give me the strength to face my future, no matter what it is, is both a heartfelt prayer for His mercy and His presence, and a surrender to letting His will be done. A wonderful reminder and lesson for us all.