It is 1880 in Forestville, Michigan, and German immigrant Annalisa Werner has just become a widow. There was no love lost between her and her husband, and she has no desire to marry again but knows she must in order to pay off the loan on her farm and prevent lumber baron E.B. Ward taking it. Her father writes to his brother in Germany to ask if any men from their old village would be willing to make the trip to marry Annalisa and inherit her farm.
But when the man arrives from Germany, it isn’t the cousin she was expecting. It is Carl Richards, who was sentenced to death by the Duke of Saxony for a crime he didn’t commit, then smuggled out of the country. Except Carl is hiding a secret – he’s actually Carl von Reichart, son of the baron who forced the group to leave Germany. And Annalisa is attracted to him, despite herself, and despite the fact that she knows she will have to marry the nameless cousin when he eventually arrives.
The story is centred on this group of German immigrants, most of whom speak little or no English, and who maintain their German culture – including some harsh attitudes towards the role of women. The characters are well-portrayed, and the story deals with historical realities very well, without romanticising the hard work that it took settlers to make a life in America, but also without condemning their culture and attitudes too harshly. It all felt very realistic and well-balanced.
A Noble Groom is the first Jody Hedlund book I have read, and I was very impressed. One of my pet peeves is authors who don’t get their facts straight, so I was particularly impressed by the note at the end where Jody outlines the actual historical events which inspired the story. It takes real skill to incorporate this level of historical detail without the story becoming bogged down, and A Noble Groom manages this very well. Recommended.
Thanks to Bethany House and NetGalley for providing a free ebook for review. You can find out more about Jody Hedlund at her website.