In the period leading up to Christmas I had some time off and lots of machine quilting to do so I donned my Kinivo Blue Tooth Headset, downloaded some audiobooks from Audible and set to work.

I lucked out as I really enjoyed both books I listened to during the lead up to Christmas. I picked a new to me author with Karen Witemeyer, based entirely on the cover and the cover blurb since I had never heard of Karen prior to my search for a good quilting read. I also picked up Silver Thaw by Catherine Anderson who has been on my auto-buy list for a long time. I blogged about Silver Thaw here. Both these books had an inspirational romance feel, without venturing into the land of too preachy, which I enjoyed.

Short-Straw Bride Cover Blurb

No one steps on Archer land. Not if they value their life. But when Meredith Hayes overhears a lethal plot to burn the Archer brothers off their ranch, a twelve-year-old debt compels her to take the risk.

Fourteen years of constant vigilance hardens a man. Yet when Travis Archer confronts a female trespasser with the same vivid blue eyes as the courageous young girl he once aided, he can’t bring himself to send her away. And when an act of sacrifice leaves her injured and her reputation in shreds, gratitude and guilt send him riding to her rescue once again.

Four brothers. Four straws. One bride. Despite the fact that Travis is no longer the gallant youth Meredith once dreamed about, she determines to stand by his side against the enemy that threatens them both. But will love ever be hers? Or will Travis always see her merely as a short-straw bride?

Avoiding The Land Of Too Preachy

Though Short-Straw Bride is clearly an inspirational romance, it manages to walk the fine line that some inspirational romances (in my opinion anyway) fail to navigate successfully because rather than the characters expressing their own faith the story reads as if the characters are trying to convert the reader. I enjoy characters (in all forms of fiction) that have their own religious and spiritual beliefs which impact their lives, their decisions, their actions. What I don’t like are stories in which the characters seem determined to convert me to their brand of spirituality. In Short-Straw Bride the hero and his brothers (the Archers) are religious men in spite of their reputation as loners who will shoot anyone who ventures onto their land without invitation. The heroine is also a woman of strong faith who often remembers favorite bible verses that help her decide what to do as she faces everyday struggles. The fact that the characters are religious provides a strong sense of spirituality which is the hallmark of inspirational romance, but it does it without venturing into the land of too preachy.

Some Of My Favorite Scenes

There were lots of great scenes in Short-Straw Bride. A few of my favorites included:

The Scene 12 Years Ago When Travis And Meredith First Meet

The first scene in the book is a scene where a young Meredith is bullied by an older boy who throws her lunchbox onto Archer land. Determined to retrieve her lunchbox Meredith goes after it, only to fall prey to a trap that the young Archer brothers have set to prevent outsiders from stepping foot onto their land. The scene where Travis rescues Meredith is in Travis’s point of view and captures well his feelings for Meredith, and also shows the impact that Meredith has had on him even from that very early beginning.

The Scene Where Travis Cheats In Order To Choose The Short Straw – And Marry Meredith

When through plot twists, it becomes necessary for one of the Archer brothers to marry Meredith to protect her reputation there is no shortage of takers. All four brothers are willing to marry her, but Travis has had feelings for her since he rescued her twelve years before. Though he knows it is wrong to do so, he cheats in order to draw the short straw. It’s a cute scene which goes horribly wrong when Meredith emerges from her room and sees the brothers drawing straws to determine who has to marry her.

The Funny Scene Where Meredith Asks An Older Married Friend How To Get Her Husband To Stop Courting

There’s a funny scene where Meredith, after some weeks of marriage in which no physical intimacy other than kissing has taken place, goes to seek advice from an older married friend she teaches with at the Freeman’s School. Karen Witemeyer does a wonderful job of weaving humor, embarrassment, and good, solid, advice into the scene. 

The Scene At The End When The Chips Are Down And It Seems All Is Lost

My absolute favorite scene in the book occurs at the end of the book when the villain has managed to gain the upper hand and it seems like all the options are gone and there is no way out of the hero, heroine, the heroine’s cousin and the hero’s brothers. I can’t tell you what happens without ruining the scene…but it was such a surprise, such a twist that it lifted my spirits and made me laugh out loud at the ingenuity. It was a great twist…absolutely believable and yet there was no way I saw it coming. 

With this book Karen Witemeyer joined a small list of favorite authors. I’ll definitely be buying other books by her. Maybe even tonight. I do have some quilting to do….