Intriguing Glimpse into the Past by Bestselling Historical Author Judith Miller
With her penchant for seeing the best in everyone, Hope Irvine sees a world full of good people in hard places. When her father accepts a position traveling in a chapel car as an on-the-rail missionary, she is determined to join him in his efforts and put her musical skills to good use by serving the mining families of West Virginia, saving their souls, and bettering their lives.
Luke Hughes shares Hope's love of music and her love of God, but as a poor miner he knows he can offer her no future. Still, the notes she sings resonate in his heart. When she begins to travel with a young mine manager to neighboring counties, Luke can hardly suppress his jealousy. It isn't until he begins to suspect these missions of mercy might be the mine manager's cover for illegal purposes, though, that Luke feels justified in speaking up. But how can he discover the truth without hurting Hope or, worse, putting her in danger?
This book is inspired by 19th-century itinerant preachers and chapel cars, specially built houses of worship in train cars used to spread the Gospel throughout sparsely populated parts of the U.S. Hope Irvine, a preacher's daughter, is always thrilled to join her father on his adventures as a chapel car preacher and can't wait to set off on his new assignment to Finch, W.Va. Although she and her father want to help, the coal mining community is reluctant to accept them. Luke Hughes, a local miner, finds his faith refreshed with the arrival of Hope and her father. Luke offers to help them navigate Finch's closed culture, but quickly they discover the town's many challenges come from both inside and out. The story becomes murky, however. The book is categorized as a romance, but scenes of authentic romance between Luke and Hope are few. Also disappointing is the prominence of a third character, from whose point of view Miller frequently writes scenes,who lacks a character arc and abruptly exits with little resolution. Miller's (The Artisan's Wife) fans will enjoy this romp following the traveling chapels of yesteryear. Agent: Wendy Lawton, Books & Such
A historical, Christian romance novel!
The Chapel Car Bride by Judith Miller begins in the spring of 1913. Hope Irvine along with her father, Reverend Layton Irvine, a traveling missionary, are traveling on Herald of Hope chapel car train. Hope had been living with her Aunt Mattie in Pittsburgh until her passing. It took some work, but Hope convinced her father to let her travel with him. She will be able to assist with the children and play the organ for the services. Their new assignment will take them to Finch, West Virginia. They temporarily stop in Brookfield where Hope is accosted by four ruffians and a miner traveling through town comes to her rescue. They finally arrive in Finch and Hope meets the miner once again. Luke Hughes works for the Finch Mining and Company along with everyone else who lives on the hill in Finch. Miners are having a hard time since hours have been cut and they are finding other ways to make money. Kirby Finch got into trouble once again and his father has sent him to Finch to work. Kirby is more interested in making quick, easy money that will allow him to escape what he considers a backwater town. Kirby believes Hope will provide a nice diversion while he is in town and then he comes up with a plan. Kirby offers to drive Hope to neighboring towns where she can teach the children about God and the Bible. Luke knows that there must be another reason for Kirby’s generosity, and he is determined to find out the reason. Luke is jealous of the time Kirby is spending with Hope. He has gotten to know Hope and is falling in love. But he does not feel worthy of such a wonderful woman. What is Kirby up to and is Hope being put in danger? Is there a chance for a future between Hope and Luke?
The Chapel Car Bride is nicely written and has an interesting concept. I had not heard about chapel cars previously and it was interesting to find out more about them. I was, though, disappointed with Judith Miller’s latest work. It was nicely written, but it was not up to her usual standard. The characters were not fleshed out or brought to life (flat). Hope is a naïve, upbeat, devout young woman who believes the best in everyone (I am surprised little birds did not fly around her head singing sweet tunes). Luke is the poor, handsome yet godly man who struggles with his cynicism of Kirby (yawn). The story builds up to Kirby and what he has been doing in Finch. The conclusion to this storyline is very anticlimactic. All the sudden it is over. I thought it was wrapped up to quickly and neatly. The pace of the book is slow. When you keep checking to see if you are closer to the end, you know the book is creeping along. I give The Chapel Car Bride 3 out of 5 stars (it is okay). It is a sweet romance novel, but I just thought it needed more (complexity, depth, feeling). It was too predictable for me. Some issues are never discussed in detail (the father’s illness and recovery as well as the mining accident are good examples). There is a light, Christian element throughout the book (information about Bible stories and prayer). I have read all of Judith Miller’s works, and this is the first one to disappoint me.