When I was offered a copy of The Bartered Bride in lieu of participating in a blog tour, I snapped up the chance. As mentioned yesterday, I’ve been a ‘fan’ of author Erica Vetsch for over a year now, and I was curious about the style of story she might tell.
It’s a slim little historical romance and, as always, I read the first page right away to see if I was hooked or not. Here’s what met me:
â€œThe ideaâ€™s preposterous, and Iâ€™ll have nothing to do with it.â€ Jonathan Kennebrae bolted from his chair and stalked across the office. â€œYou wonâ€™t manipulate me like this. And I doubt Noah or Eli will go along with the scheme either.â€
His grandfather, Abraham Kennebrae, sat ramrod straight behind the walnut desk. For a man confined to an invalid chair these past eight years, his voice still rang with authority and vigor. â€œIâ€™ve spent a lifetime building up this familyâ€™s fortune and power, and I want to die knowing it will continue. If not through you, then through your brothers. The best
way to ensure this is to marry you boys off well. You act as if contracted marriage was something new. Itâ€™s been going on for centuries.â€
Jonathan clasped his hands behind his back under his coattails and stared out the window of Grandfatherâ€™s library. Two acres of emerald grass stretched below to the shoreline. Lake Superior spread before him, cobalt blue under an azure sky. The Lady Genevieve, the family yacht named for his grandmother, bobbed gently along the dock beside the boathouse. Her white hull gleamed, her mast pointed to the cloudless heavens. He wished he stood at her wheel, skimming over the waves, away from this incredible conversation.
â€œItâ€™s all arranged, Jonathan. Three weddings, three sound marriages, and the consolidation of four of the wealthiest families in Duluth. And not only that, but it brings together under one name all you need to control every aspect of this harbor: shipping, grain, ore, and lumber.â€
Jonathan turned and leaned against the windowsill. The morning sun fell through the stained glass of the upper windows, shattering rainbows on the Persian rug. He crossed his ankles, trying to appear casual. â€œAll arranged? You and your cronies have everything mapped out? And Noah, Eli, and I have no say? Have you decided who is to marry whom, or were you just going to have us draw straws?â€
Don’t know about you, but the opening yanked me right in, and the rest of the novel did not disappoint. The story is set in Duluth, Minnesota, which apparently had more millionaires than any other American city in 1905, as well as a large immigrant population. The city’s port, westernmost on Lake Superior and therefore of the Great Lakes, handled more gross tonnage than any other port in America and it stands to reason that whoever controlled this port controlled much of the wealth.
It is against this backdrop that Erica Vetsch weaves the story of The Bartered Bride. Jonathan Kennebrae’s grandfather has determined to marry his grandsons into the other three most affluent families of Duluth, and he’s made it impossible for them to resist. Jonathan has been running Kennebrae Shipping for eight years and isn’t about to give it up, but he also has no desire to marry Melissa Brooke, surely a spoiled little rich girl. So Jonathan sets out to find a way to break the engagement that will still keep him at the reins of the shipping company. When he finds what he’s been looking for, he’s no longer sure of his desires. The chain of events that have been set in motion are not that easy to stop.
A rollicking romantic tale set in historical Duluth, The Bartered Bride is a book you won’t want to pass up.
Erica Vetsch is married to Peter and keeps the company books for the family lumber business. A home-school mom to Heather and James, Erica loves history, romance, and storytelling. Her ideal vacation is taking her family to out-of-the-way history museums and chatting to curators about local history. She has a Bachelorâ€™s degree from Calvary Bible College in Secondary Education: Social Studies. You can find her on the web at On The Write Path.