When I think of Christian romance, I think of Janette Oke writing about those early pioneers crossing seas of grass in canvas covered wagons, of finding love in unexpected places (isn’t it always unexpected?), of a handsome Canadian Mountie riding off with his bride. And I loved it, right from the age of twelve, when my best friend loaned me “Love Comes Softly,” right up until I went to college and became too busy to read for pleasure.

Plus, I had a real-life romance with the skinny, shaggy-haired guy who would one day be my husband. So, it’s been a fun diversion to delve back into a genre that isn’t on my regular reading list. Ah, romance! After eighteen years of marriage, I’ll take it in whatever form it comes!

This month, it came in the form of Mona Hodgson’s novel “Twice a Bride,” the fourth in a series just released by Waterbrook Press. Having not read the preceding books, it was a bit like stepping into the middle of a family reunion and trying to remember who was who. How many sisters? Who is married to whom? Who’s pregnant? Who just had a baby? And who is the cute photographer standing in the corner?

Whether or not you’ve read her previous books, Hodgson does a good job orienting the reader to the small town of Cripple Creek, somewhere outside of Denver, during the gold-digging days of 1898. The novel centers around the life of Willow Peterson, a young widow, who takes a job as a portrait painter for photographer Trenton Van Der Veer. And yes, romance blossoms despite past wounds and ongoing misunderstandings. A rival swoops in to compete for Trenton’s affections while the lively Sinclair sisters seek to mend a relationship with their father, who pursues a relationship of his own.

Hodgson, who also writes for children, weaves multiple story lines together as she deals with themes of love, loss, and faith in this well-paced novel exploring the lives of working  Turn-of-the-Century women. If you can, start with book one. But for a chance to win a copy of “Twice a Bride” post a comment on my web page anytime before the end of the month. I’ll be drawing the name of one lucking writer or subscriber on October 31st, so get ready for a Hallows Eve treat!

A free review copy of this book was provided to me by the publisher.