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In A January Bride by Deborah Raney, what will happen when novelist Madeleine Houser’s “pen pal” friendship with a lonely widower takes an unexpected turn?
Who can work in a house that's overrun by contractors and carpenters? Not Madeleine Houser, a successful novelist who gladly accepts the help of her octogenarian friend, Ginny, to arrange for a temporary office in the charming bed and breakfast owned by Ginny's friend, Arthur. Maddie's never met the innkeeper - but a friendship grows between them as Maddie and Arthur leave messages for each other each day. To Maddie's alternate delight and chagrin, she seems to be falling for the inn's owner - a man who's likely many years her senior - and who she's never even met.
*I received a free ARC of A January Bride from Zondervan Fiction via Netgalley in exchange of an honest review*
A January Bride is a very sweet story, where a lot of the romantic action happens in an epistolary fashion. Art and Maddie have almost stopped believing in love, but when circumstances bring Maddie to continue writing her next book in Art’s Inn while he is at work, things slowly change. They leave each other little notes every day, and that is how they get to know each other. Both mistakenly – with the help of their 84-year old friend Ginny – believe the other is old.
The characters are both very likeable and touching in A January Bride, and I really enjoyed reading their little notes, and the fantasies they both spun from them. For several weeks, they don’t meet, apart from at the post office, not knowing who the other is. And the fact that their relationship is slowly building through the written word is very well done, and I loved how they both were able to open up to each other when they thought it was ‘safe’ to ask advice of an older person.
Filled with humor and warmth, A January Bride really got to me on many levels. Dealing with the grief of a deceased spouse cannot be easy, and learning to live and love again is not what Art thought he’d ever be able to do. Dealing with guild when he starts having feelings for Maddie after they meet for real, he doesn’t know what direction to look to in order to get some sound advice.
Slowly unfolding to a quite slow pace, A January Bride is still a pretty fast read, and a very satisfying one, too. It really was good to get to know Art and Maddie little by little, and the way they actually got to know each other without any ulterior motives before they met made the story feel very right. If you are ready for a slow romance, where every action is character driven, you should pick up A January Bride for a short while of escapism.
Glancing back at the portrait on the wall and the handsome figure the young Arthur Tyler cut, a strange ache of longing came over her. All the heroes in her novels were men of centuries long past. Men of honor and integrity.
If the book turned out to be drivel, he might have to devise a graceful way to extricate himself from that dubious honor. He would never hear the end of it from his colleagues at the university if his name appeared on the acknowledgments page of a schmaltzy romance novel.
If he’d believed in love at first sight, he would have dropped to one knee and proposed on the spot. But he managed to restrain himself and simply enjoy her clever wit.
He could not deny she made his heart pump to a rhythm he’d long forgotten.