About the Book (from Barbour Publishing)
Can a religious separatist and an opportunistic spy make it in the New World?
Mary Elizabeth Chapman boards the Speedwell in 1620 as a Separatist seeking a better life in the New World. William Lytton embarks on the Mayflower as a carpenter looking for opportunities to succeed—and he may have found one when a man from the Virginia Company offers William a hefty sum to keep a stealth eye on company interests in the new colony. The season is far too late for good sailing and storms rage, but reaching land is no better as food is scarce and the people are weak. Will Mary Elizabeth survive to face the spring planting and unknown natives? Will William be branded a traitor and expelled?
The Mayflower Bride is a light read with moments and lines of greater depth. Unfortunately, the majority of my thoughts are more critical in nature, but that isn't to say this story isn't enjoyable or meaningful!
I appreciated the generous nature of the main characters. Mary Elizabeth spends much of the book caring for those who are sick; William often uses his carpentry skills or strength to help on board the ship or preparing the colony; and even Mary Elizabeth's little brother, David, desires to assist others wherever he can, although he's sadly forced to grow up early as a result of the journey.
While the story doesn't dive deep into matters of faith, there are some scenes and lines that are impactful and inspiring. With all the loss these characters experience, it's powerful when they choose to trust and praise God.
I suppose what makes this book feel a little "off" in tone is the fact that there is so much hardship, and yet, while characters do mourn, emotions are not expressed in a way that makes the reader experience the pain alongside them. Some scenes feel immature or underdeveloped, especially the focus on "love at first sight" and lighthearted romance that seems out of character with the setting and time period.
One part of the plot (the sea voyage itself, and the effort to make a home in the New World) held my interest and helped me be invested in the story. But another part of the plot that is supposed to create and maintain tension throughout the book falls flat. There's danger on the journey, but it's hard to sense much threat from the "villain," even at the end.
The Mayflower Bride is a sweet beginning to the "Daughters of the Mayflower" series, but it lacks a certain amount of depth. Still, fans of Anna's Crossing by Suzanne Woods Fisher and those who like gentle historical romance should enjoy this, and the series (spanning American history, with some wonderful contributing authors) promises to be one to watch.
*With thanks to Barbour Publishing and NetGalley for providing me with an e-ARC of the book.*
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