ABOUT THE BOOK
Book: Penelope’s Pursuit
Author: Chautona Havig
Genre: Historical Romantic Suspense
Release date: June 29, 2021
Ten years ago, Penelope’s sister ran away as a mail-order bride, and it was the last their family ever heard from her. Now, with their parents dead and Penelope all alone, the young woman has one goal. Find her sister.
It took enough grit for Henry to write to Miss Mildred Crenshaw about finding him a wife in the first place, but when the stage arrives and no bride steps off, the whole thing feels like a confidence scheme. Investigation, however, sends chills down his spine as he realizes women are leaving the east for the west but many never arrive at their destinations.
Is it any wonder that Penelope doesn’t trust the man who abducts her from the clutches of her new friends and rides off into the sunset? Is his explanation reasonable? Can she convince him to help her find her sister?
And is she about to fall in love with a homesteader on the untamed prairies of Kansas?
Other than Sarah, Plain and Tall, I had never read a mail-order bride story. They just didn’t appeal to me. I don’t like to read straight-up romance, and my impression was that this genre would be that. Well, then Chautona Havig wrote a mail-order bride story. I will read anything she writes, so I read one of that genre. I don’t think it’s a typical story of that type, and I’m still not interested in reading more of them—but I really like Penelope’s Pursuit, even though there is a lot in it that isn’t nice. One chapter in particular, chapter 19, has something awful in it—I can’t tell you what it is, because that would be a spoiler. Just know that it’s hard to read.
We (or at least I) tend to think of human trafficking as a modern problem. As Penelope discovered, it was likely happening in the American West in the 1800s, as well. Most likely, many mail-order brides found an unhappy end. This story shows that not all was wonderful in the “old days” that we think of fondly. The hard realities of life are clearly described here—but also the hope and the healing we can find with God. I highly recommend Penelope’s Pursuit to anyone who likes historical romance with a lot more in it than just romance.
I received a review copy of this book from the author, and these are my honest thoughts about it.
About the Author:
Chautona Havig lives in an oxymoron, escapes into imaginary worlds that look startlingly similar to ours and writes the stories that emerge. An irrepressible optimist, Chautona sees everything through a kaleidoscope of It’s a Wonderful Life sprinkled with fairy tales. Find her at chautona.com and say howdy—if you can remember how to spell her name.
More From Chautona:
Mail Order Brides: Do We Romanticize the Past?
Although I recall reading about mail-order brides in school… somewhere… Patricia MacLachlan’s Sarah, Plain and Tall was my first introduction to the idea of advertising for or requesting the services of a matchmaker to find a wife. The book and the subsequent movie showed the difficulties of such a marriage and left us all with a satisfactory ending.
Some years later, while doing a bit of research, I discovered another side of the coin—a horrifying picture of what happened to some gullible young women and the unscrupulous people who used such matchmaking schemes as a means for human trafficking. It sickened me, as it should anyone.
All my ideas for mail order bride novels ended up as wadded up balls of mental paper and in the wastepaper basket of my mind. A few years passed, and I came up with a twist on mail order brides, one that will see the light of day if I ever have time to write it. A few more years passed, and a series of books featuring a matchmaking service for mail-order brides and the Homestead Act resurrected those ideas. I smoothed a couple out, reconsidered, and decided against writing them.
I’d have to miss the opportunity to join the series.
My mind never does follow orders well. Within minutes of that decision, I had a story. What would happen if there was some funny business going on with girls going west? How could I combine a satisfactory ending where two people came to a meeting of the minds and hearts in the midst of fighting something that ugly?
Penelope’s Pursuit was born.
Is my story idealized? Probably. I’ll be frank with you. I’m okay with that, too. See, sometimes all we need is a reminder that mankind is sinful and in need of a Savior before the story turns into how things should have been. After all, fiction mirrors reality, but it is also an escape.
I hope Penelope’s escape to the west and her pursuit of her sister encourages you to turn to the Lord for every decision, in every trouble, and with every praise possible in between.
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