A little unobservant this time around, I only discovered that Mary Connealy’s Wildflower Bride is book 3 of a series after I started reading it. Though I missed the preceding events, Ms Connealy kindly made mention of previous events, and it was no hardship to follow the story. I understand Wade and Abby have been mentioned in book 1 and/or 2, although they were not the main characters at that stage.
The story goes like this: At ten years old, Abby’s family dies from fever and she is left alone in the wilderness. A Flathead tribe of Indians discovers her, renames her Glowing Sun and adopts her as their own. Living with the Flatheads, Abby starts forgetting her former life and even her native language. Years later cowboy Wade Sawyer rescues Abby from a kidnapping, befriends her and helps her rediscover her command of the English language as he helps her find her Flathead family. Although Abby feels connected to Wade, she rejects his advances as she has already been promised to Wild Eagle, the next Chief of the Flathead tribe. A year passes and Abby’s village is attacked, her people slaughtered and Abby again taken by the assailants. Once again Wade comes to her rescue, though she handles herself pretty well. When the surviving members of her Flathead family blame Abby for the massacre and evict her from the tribe, Abby has nowhere to go. Having had two families stripped from her life, Abby is convinced that God has created her to be alone and determines to live in the wild by herself. Wade, also living by himself and unsure of his place in the world, having finally left his abusive father to run the ranch alone, is contacted with the news that his father is dying and wishes to see him. When he refuses, Abby lashes out saying that he should be grateful he still has a father, and admonishes him for not honouring his father. Refusing to leave Abby to her own devices, Wade agrees to go home if Abby joins him. Planning to ditch Wade just as soon as she can, Abby agrees and they head for Montana, unaware that the men who slaughtered Abby’s people have recently been hired to work on the Sawyer Ranch. With danger surrounding them at every turn, can Wade and Abby survive long enough to realize that God has placed them right where they should be: with each other?
I decided to read Wildflower Bride as I was in the mood for something old fashioned and romantic, and that’s exactly what I got. It’s a lovely story about an unlikely pair falling in love despite their reservations about each other. Abby has been raised to hate and fear white men (even though she is white herself!), yet Wade is kind and protective instead of cruel and sadistic. Wade has spent his life praying for a gentle, submissive wife, yet Abby is hostile and independent. She pulls a knife on him every chance she gets! Even though neither is what the other wanted, they can’t fight their growing attraction.
Layered on top of the love story, the book deals with Abby’s doubts and fears and journey to discovering who she really is, and Wade’s unresolved feelings towards his abusive father and the mother figure who stood by and let it happen. The book beautifully deals with a Christian’s struggle with hate and resentment, and Wade’s attempts to help his father accept God. Abby’s untamed ways is also quite comical, and Connealy’s humour provides welcome reprieves from the darker side of the story.
The only thing that slightly annoyed me was that the story often moved away from Wade and Abby to focus on Silas, Belle, Red and Cassie (characters from the previous two books). Readers of book 1 and 2 may have appreciated this approach, but honestly I just wanted to read about Wade and Abby. Other than that Connealy’s writing is fun and a pleasure to follow. At the end of the day, Wildflower Bride was a joy to read.
Title: Wildflower Bride
Author: Mary Connealy
Number of pages: 320
Publisher: Barbour Books