Review: The Runaway Bride, by Jody Hedlund

book coverSynopsis

Haunted by Mistakes in Her Past, Will She Ever Again
Trust Her Heart to Another?

Wealthy Arabella Lawrence flees to British Columbia on a bride ship, still bearing the scars of past mistakes. One of the few single women in the boomtown, she immediately attracts suitors, but she is determined not to find herself trapped again by making a poor choice.

Vying for her hand are two very different men. Lieutenant Richard Drummond is a gentleman in the Navy, held in high esteem. Peter Kelly is the town’s baker who has worked hard to build a thriving business. He and Drummond not only compete for Arabella’s affections, but also clash over their views of how the natives should be treated in the midst of a smallpox outbreak.

As Arabella begins to overcome her fears, she discovers someone in dire need–a starving girl left behind by her tribe. Intent on helping the child, Arabella leans on Peter’s advice and guidance. Will she have the wisdom to make the right decision, or will seeking what’s right cost both her and Peter everything?


Disclaimer: Although I received a copy of this book from the publisher, the words and opinions below are my own.

Jody Hedlund is a busy woman. In the past year, she’s launched a half dozen novels, including the first of The Bride Ships series. Now comes the second of that series, The Runaway Bride, set during the same time frame as The Reluctant Bride and featuring familiar characters from that title.

Look, any book that includes mentions of cricket is most likely going to have my vote. Because Victoria, in present day British Columbia, was a British colony the residents were mostly from Great Britain and had brought many of their customs and traditions with them. That included cricket. (Fun fact: the first international game of cricket was between Canada and the USA in 1844!)

One negative aspect of British expansion was the notion of class. In 1862, Arabella is learning – just as her friend Mercy did in The Runaway Bride – that it isn’t easy to cross social barriers. Arabella is expected to marry well and live a life of relative luxury. Those around her don’t understand why she’s insistent on learning practical skills such as baking. After all, won’t she have servants once she’s married? It’s a consideration that also holds Arabella back from following her heart.

There are two subjects in the novel that a few readers may find difficult to read about. The first is the reason why Arabella became a passenger on a bride ship, and it isn’t a pretty story. While the details aren’t explicit, there’s enough to understand what happened to her. The other is the situation regarding the First Nations people, known as “the natives.” As happened in the other locations colonized by the British, there were difficulties – to put it mildly – in the relationship between the colonizers and the colonized. The indigenous people were forcibly removed from their lands and readers see the impact the Smallpox epidemic had on their communities.

As I mentioned at the beginning, The Runaway Bride is the second title in The Bride Ships series. The remaining two novels will be released later this year. Is it necessary to read the books in order? Probably not. Would it be helpful to have read The Reluctant Bride previously? Possibly. I did read it first, and although Arabella Lawrence is a secondary character not much is given away. What is revealed mostly serves to build up a sense of mystery about her. Book three, A Bride of Convenience, comes out in June and will also feature a recognizable character. I’m looking forward to it.

Author Information

Jody Hedlund is the best-selling author of over twenty historicals for both adults and teens and is the winner of numerous awards including the Christy, Carol, and Christian Book Award. She lives in central Michigan with her husband, five busy teens, and five spoiled cats.

Jody Hedlund’s Website

Product Information

Publisher: Bethany House (a division of Baker Publishing Group)

Publication Date: 03 March 2020

Book Information



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