Yearning for a fresh start, Ewan McKay travels with his aunt and uncle from northern Scotland to West Virginia, promising to trade his skills in the clay business for financial assistance from his uncle Hugh. Hugh purchases a brickmaking operation from a Civil War widow and her daughter, but it’s Ewan who gets the business up and running again. Ewan seeks help from Laura, the former owner’s daughter, and he feels a connection with her, but she’s being courted by another man—a lawyer with far more social clout and money than Ewan. Besides, Ewan has resolved he’ll focus on making the brickmaking operation enough of a success that he can become a partner in the business and be able to afford to bring his sisters over from Scotland.
But when Hugh signs a bad business deal, all Ewan’s hard work may come to naught. As his plans begin to crumble, Laura reveals something surprising. She and her mother may have a way to save the brickworks, and in turn Ewan may have another shot at winning Laura’s heart.
The Brickmaker’s Bride is a unique love story filled with plot twists and unbelievable generosity. It’ll keep you guessing the outcome until the very last page. Hugh’s gambling habits and bad business dealings affect Ewan and Laura throughout the entire story. He derails Ewan’s hard work time and time again, making it difficult for Ewan to make plans with Laura or to establish a home for his sisters. He makes a great villainous character as he continually frustrates the plot and adds wrenches to plans.
On the flip side, I loved Laura. Her sweet, gentle, wise nature contrasts a bit with the stereotypical female of the day, and her compassion is inspiring. Ewan, too, is a great character. I’m fascinated with he Irish, and his immigration story, family history, and knowledge of the brickworks all collided to tell an unusual story of post-Civil War American life.
As much as I loved this story, however, there were a few problematic holes. Ewan had real concerns about a possible relationship with Laura, and while he thinks about them several times, they’re never actually dealt with. Problems don’t really disappear, as much as we’d like them to, and this was an important plot twist that demanded answers. Books featuring this era seem to gloss over the logistics of relationships often, and while that was not done completely in The Brickmaker’s Bride, some issues are worth the time to dissect and answer them. I think the book would have been more complete had this one been hashed out.
With that said, however, I did love the story. It was a bit rosy, but the unique perspective and colorful characters more than made up for that. Miller’s writing was smooth, as always, and drew me into the story from the very beginning. The Brickmaker’s Bride is definitely a historical fiction worth reading.
About the author:
Judith Miller is an award-winning author whose avid research and love for history are reflected in her bestselling novels. When time permits, Judy enjoys traveling, visiting historical settings, and scrapbooking the photographs from her travel expeditions. She makes her home in Topeka, Kansas.
I received a free copy of The Brickmaker’s Bride from LitFuse Publicity in exchange for an honest review.