BOOK REVIEW: The Chapel Car Bride by Judith Miller

Hope Irvine always sees the best in people. While traveling on the rails with her missionary father, she attracts the attention of a miner named Luke and a young mine manager. When Luke begins to suspect the manager is using Hope's missions of mercy as a cover for illegal activities, can he discover the truth without putting her in danger?

Hope grew up living with her Aunt after her mother passed away and while her father worked in the Chapel Car Ministry.  Now that she is grown and her Aunt has passed as well, Hope decides to join her father on the rails.  He's not so sure but she's convinced it's where God needs her to be.  When they arrive in the mine town of Finch, WV; the assignment from the association, she is more than convinced when she meets Luke and their friendship blossoms.   Kirby, the mine owners son is banished to Finch by his father as a means of attempting to straighten his broken path through the illicit side of life and attempt to interest him in the family business.  In his desire to win a flirtatious fling with Hope he signs on to provide the means to make improvements for the miners' families.  He's never there for the actual work but he does make a few things happen.  But, is Finch really going to straighten his path or will he find a new way to engage in illicit activities for the rush?

I looked forward to this book when I was notified by Bethany House that I was approved to receive it.  Chapel Cars are something I didn't even know was a thing and I was excited for the opportunity to learn more.  It was obvious that the author had done their research on the ministry as well as the areas in which the story was set.  The attitudes and personalities of the mine communities were well portrayed.  However, there were so many other areas where the story fell flat and never recovered.  Just a heads up, I'll use the term flat a lot.  I probably should pull the thesaurus and find synonyms but ya get flat.

The characters were flat with very little depth making them difficult to bond with. That's a biggie for me.  Bonding with characters, loving or despising them draws me into whatever story they have to tell.  Kirby seemed developed at first but faded to flatness.  Hope is too perfect with very little to create a rounded character.  Luke is the same, yes he struggles with feeling judgemental and gets called on that by perfect Hope, but he has reason to feel that way.  Ad without that would the story have ever developed?  Even supporting characters weren't well defined which left them adding little to the story, as well.  A lack of connection with character creates a lack of connection with the story line.  The story line fell flat too.  Too many things that should have been and could have been used to build plot and characters were glossed over.  When the Reverend has the accident at the rebuilding of the church and everyone races down the hill to get to him and transported to the doctor's.  The intensity ended right there.  He's in the doctor's while they are all banished from the room.  And it never picked back up.  They aren't certain what happened to cause him to fall, some pretty big things are thrown out with no followup.  He's got a bit of amnesia but that's glossed over.  His entire recovery is glossed over.  It missed every single option it had to add to and build to the story.  What about the mine explosion?  Not a rare thing to happen in a coal mine, though not an everyday occurrence either but it was left to hang.  Everyone races to the mine to help and recover the miners inside.  The inspectors come in and Kirby throws out some ideas and makes a few things happen in one paragraph but then it's never followed up on.  Big introduction then a fade to nothing with in a few paragraphs.  So much could have been done with that to bolster the story and the characters.   With flat characters comes a flattened plot and flatter storytelling.  This book had the promise of all the right elements but failed to become dimensional.  The first half of the book took forever for me to get through.  I'd read for chapter breaks where typically chapter breaks are my reason to have to stop so that the sleep thing can attempt to happen. The book has promise and I am glad I chose to finish it, however I would be selective of the audience I would recommend it to.

I was provided a complimentary copy of this book by Bethany House.  I was not compensated for this review and all thoughts and opinions expressed are my own.  I was not required to write a positive review.
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The Chapel Car Bride
About Judith Miller
Judith McCoy Miller is an award-winning author whose avid research and love for history are reflected in her bestselling novels. Judy and her husband make their home in Topeka, Kansas.

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  1. I've heard such good things about this book but I just wasn't feeling the blurb.

  2. I was totally feeling the blurb and was sooo looking forward to this book and was sadly disappointed. It had so much potential.