Every year around April 1, Lottery Day, I get asked which novel is my favorite Bride Lottery novel. That's a difficult question to answer because I love them all.
Bride Lottery #5 Dying Wish
One of my favorite Bride Lottery novels is Bride Lottery #5 Dying Wish. Grace Jennings has always been the good daughter and done everything her parents have ever asked her. But how far do you go? For Grace, the answer to that question is as far as she needs to go to save her mother from dying of leukemia, blood cancer. In this post-apocalyptic world the best treatment for leukemia is radiation therapy followed by a bone marrow transplant, but the procedure to extract enough bone marrow from the donor is dangerous and the donor is Grace. As the date for the treatment gets closer, Grace's mother asks one last favor--enter the lottery and get married. As the oldest of their children Grace is the only one old enough for the lottery even though it's the last thing she wants to do.
While eighteen year-old Grace takes on the responsibility of caring for her mother, her father becomes a basket case. Without his wife, he can barely function. So the burden of caring for the younger siblings falls to sixteen year-old Daisy, Grace's younger sister. These two girls are the heroines of Bride Lottery #5 Dying Wish.
One of the funniest scenes in this story takes place in the church. Mackenzie Crawford is the guy who starts dating Grace before the lottery. That is until he learns how much work is involved in taking care of her family. Then he takes off and starts dating another woman and it's very public. When he has the nerve to take this other woman to church, which is like Grace's second home, she drops the gold cross necklace he gave her into the donation plate. 🙂
On Sunday, Grace took her siblings to church. Cat even wore a dress. They’d just taken a seat when Chase tapped her on the shoulder. Mackenzie Crawford was sitting in a pew with Gretchen Hollander and her parents four pews behind them.
It was hard to concentrate on the sermon after that. While Reverend Bates droned on about the sanctity of marriage and the evils of adultery she was trying to think of a civil way of strangling Mac with the gold necklace he’d given her. Then, as if God was sending her a message, the donation plate came down their pew. She removed the necklace, dropped it on the plate, and passed it down.
About twenty minutes later she heard Gretchen say, “Mac Crawford, you’re not supposed to take things from the donation plate. You’re supposed to put something in,” followed by what sounded like a hand slap. Murmurs followed.
She didn’t have to look to know that it would be a long time before Mackenzie Crawford bought another woman a gold necklace.
This scene is typical Grace. She has a sense of humor and poetic justice. If you like humor in your sweet Christian romances this is the novel for you. 😉
Bride Lottery #6 Two Brothers
Another one of my favorite Bride Lottery novels is Bride Lottery #6 Two Brothers. In fact, this is probably my all-time favorite lottery book. The title comes from the fact that two brothers enter the lottery together and the kinder brother is the one who gets the girl, who in this story is underage and entering under an assumed name because her and her siblings have recently become orphans.
Annie Walker is only sixteen years-old when she enters the lottery. Her older sister Beth was supposed to be the one entering, but Beth refuses leaving Annie to do what she has to do--enter instead. What Annie doesn't realize is that Mason MacNamara, the man who gets her name, is her soulmate. He is perfect for her. The problem with their marriage is that they both have meddling siblings. Beth keeps sewing seeds of jealousy in Mason and so does his brother Hunter until finally Mason does something unforgivable, he burns her dead brother's shirt. He doesn't know that the shirt is her brother's; he thinks it belongs to her lover, a story that Beth has created to make him leave Annie so they can go home. Once he does the unforgivable that's exactly where they head. Mason and his entire family chase after them.
“Does that mean you don’t want to be married to Mason?” Liam said.
“You should think about it—“
“No, you don’t want to think about it or—“
“No, I don’t want to be married to Mason MacNamara.”
Liam nodded then turned to Mace. “Mace—“
“I love her. I want to be married to her for the rest of my life. And after. You know, in heaven.”
“Unfortunately the rules are clear. You’re not lottery age yet.”
“Then why did you ask if I wanted to stay married to him?”
“If you liked each other, the next logical question would be have you consummated your marriage.”
“Yes,” Mace said.
“Yes you’ve consummated your marriage?”
“I have never had sex with you.”
“She has a little birthmark under her left breast. And a freckle on her upper thigh. It’s kind of hard to miss.”
Annie turned bright scarlet and stared at her husband. “How do you know that?”
“Would the two of you like to be alone?” Liam said.
“Yes,” Mace said.
“How about this?” Liam said. “We have to get some things at the general store. We’ll be back in twenty minutes. Would that be long enough?”
“I don’t want to be alone with him.”
“How about an hour?” Mace said.
“Thirty minutes,” Liam said and both he and Ryan left.
“I’ve seen you naked and we’ve slept in bed together. I don’t want to lie. But I will if you don’t at least give me a chance.”
“I gave you a chance. You burned Evan’s shirts.”
“Honey, the lottery says you have to live together for three months. They designed it that way so men could do stupid things and their wives had to stick around long enough to let them make it up to them. If they were allowed to leave every time their husband messed up, there wouldn’t be any married couples at all.”
“Then let’s barter. You tell me how long you’re willing to stay with me and try to work it out.”
“That’s not fair.”
“You burned my shirts. That’s not fair.”
He moved his chair so it was closer and he could lean forward and whisper. “Beth told me you only married me for half my farm and that you were going to meet up with Evan in July. She said the two of you were making a fool out of me and I was only too stupid to play along. She said other things, about you and Evan. She wanted me to think the two of you were intimate. And you were wearing his shirt in bed.”
“I’m only sixteen. I don’t even have a woman’s body yet. What would make you think I’d have some man chasing after me?”
“You have a woman’s body. And I would chase after you. In a heartbeat.”
She was speechless.
“If I could take back what I did, I would. Looking back on it now, it was stupid. Beth lies. I know that. But you were hiding something and I didn’t know what it was. You just should’ve told me.”
“I asked you to trust me. You didn’t. So now we’re not going to be married anymore.”
“Honey, please don’t say that.”
“You don’t get to call me Honey.”
“When you found out what I did, how angry were you on a scale of 1 to 10?”
“How about now?”
“I’ve been asleep for two days. To me, I just found out a few hours ago.”
“Is it still twenty-five? Or is getting even a little better?”
She frowned. It was less. The more he talked, the less she wanted to hurt him.
“Twenty-five or twenty-four?”
“I want to go home. And I don’t want to be married to you anymore. That’s what I’m telling Liam and Ryan.”
“Okay, I understand. But understand me, Annie Walker. I am going to lie and lie and keep on lying to delay the inevitable in the hopes you’ll change your mind. Because if you change your mind and we’re intimate they’ll let us stay married. I can’t imagine a life without you. Not coming home to that face or sleeping next to you. Or listening to you talk. I can’t imagine a life where I can’t kiss you any time I want.”
He smiled. “Okay, we’re headed in the right direction.”
“I still hate you.”
“Yes, but you hate me a little less than you did two days ago.”
This is one of my favorite scenes because it's not only poignant, it's hilarious. While Annie was unconscious and at the doctor's office Mason was there to help the doctor set her broken bones. He now knows enough about her birthmarks and freckles to describe them. So he lies and tells the Brennanmen they consummated their marriage. 🙂 I also love the way he rationalizes that they're doing better--she hates him less with each passing day. 😉
If you love young romance, meddling siblings, and men who will go to the ends of the earth to make their women happy, this is the sweet Christian romance for you.
Bride Lottery #11 Survivor
Another one of my favorite Bride Lottery novels is Bride Lottery #11 Survivor. The title has two meanings. The heroine, Molly Brown, has survived years of beatings from her drunken father following her mother's death. She looks exactly like her mother and her father is angry that she died on him. The second meaning comes from the virology book that Molly is reading which describes a person in every flu epidemic who has natural immunity and these people all have something in common--a large number of osteoclasts. (Look it up.)
As the story begins Molly has finally turned eighteen years old and is eligible for the lottery. She sneaks away from home and arrives an hour early so she can finally escape her violent father. All she needs is a man from out-of-town to enter the lottery. Nine men enter and they are all locals. Lucky for Molly Dylan West is moving his herd of cattle through town and needs supplies at the general store which is right next to Lottery Field. Dylan is the most eligible bachelor from Red Maple Falls. He's gorgeous, rich, and single. He also has a big heart. He's the nicest guy around. When Molly's dad comes to town and tries strangling Molly to death, Dylan beats him up and enters his name in the lottery. The magistrate, a friend of Molly's, rigs it so Dylan gets her name and they ride off into the sunset.
Dylan really is the perfect man, so perfect in fact that Molly falls head over heels in love with him. But he doesn't fall in love with her. Eventually she realizes he's never going to love her so she puts everything in his house back the way it was before she arrived and she leaves, riding straight into a flu epidemic to save her younger brother Matt.
One of the cutest scenes in the novel takes place right before Molly leaves him. Dylan doesn't realize that he's fallen in love with his wife. He has a bad case of lovesickness.
Noon came and went and so did dinner. Molly didn’t come home. He saddled a horse and rode straight to the dairy farm where he assumed Scarlett lived with her dairy farmer husband. A tall skinny guy with short brown hair appeared at the door wearing dirty overalls.
“Can I help you?”
“Is Molly West here?”
The guy smiled. “You must be Dylan West. I’m Blake Mallory. Yes, she’s here. They’re having a sleepover.”
“I thought sleepovers ended in the morning.”
“Not this one. It’s been going strong since yesterday.”
“Can I speak with my wife?”
“Sure, come in.”
“Maybe I should stay here. I’d like a private word.”
“Oh, I see. I’ll get her.”
Two minutes later, Molly was standing on the porch in short pajamas with her long brown hair in curlers. She had makeup on her eyes and cheeks and bright pink lipstick with scented lip gloss. She smelled like a cupcake. “Hi Dylan. What do you need? I left you a note.”
“That was yesterday. You could’ve at least come out to the ranch and let me know you were staying an extra day.”
“I’m sorry. I was going to leave this afternoon, but one thing led to another and then it was dark. I didn’t want to ride all the way out to the ranch alone in the dark.”
“So what are you doing on this sleepover?”
“What kind of girl stuff?”
She glanced around in the dark, looked back at him, and frowned. “Are you okay, Dylan? Did something happen?”
“Can’t I worry about my wife?”
“Yes, you can. But I’m not going to be your wife much longer.”
“Can’t I worry about my friend?”
She smiled. “Yes, you can. Why don’t you come inside? Blake’s been asking about you. He’d like to talk to you. You guys actually have a lot in common. He’s a workaholic too.”
“I’d rather you got your stuff and came home.”
She stopped and stared at him like she was confused. “The ranch isn’t my home, Dylan. I thought it was. I wanted it to be. But it’s not. It’s your home.”
“Is that what you think?”
“How many times have you told me this whole thing was temporary?”
“It’s still your home.”
“I’m your friend. Friends don’t live together.”
“Maybe these two friends do.”
“Is that what you want? To just be friends?”
“No, we can’t live together. I’m leaving on the first and you can have the house exactly as you wanted it.”
“You painted the nursery.”
“I put it back the way you wanted it.”
“Why didn’t you tell me?”
“I don’t understand this conversation, Dylan. And it’s making me very sad. Are you going to be okay riding home? I’d really like you to come inside and talk to Blake. Have a cup of coffee and sit and talk to another man. Can you do that for me? Please?”
“Yes. I can do that for you.”
She came and took him by the hand and led him inside to the kitchen. She pushed him into a chair, whispered something to Blake, and left. He watched her disappear through a set of double doors and then Blake was handing him a cup of coffee.
“Have you been drinking?” was the first thing he said.
Dylan stared at the guy and wanted to punch him. “No. I’ve been waiting all night and day for Molly to come home from her sleepover.”
“So you’re sleep-deprived?”
“So how’s the cattle business?”
“What are they doing in there?”
Blake laughed. “Well, they keep changing their nail polish. First it was red, then it was pink, then it was purple. I think now it’s some shade of green.”
“Can’t she do that at home?”
“Well it’s a long ride out to your ranch, Dylan, and Molly’s there all alone all day long. She needs other women to talk to.”
“Oh.” He sipped the coffee. It wasn’t half bad.
“Are you really going to let her go?”
“I don’t want to talk about it.”
“She’s very young.”
“Molly’s one of the most adult women I’ve ever met. Age has nothing to do with maturity. She raised herself and her little brother too. All while dodging blows from a drunken father who let the farm go to seed. She tried working the farm and when that didn’t work, did odd jobs here and there to earn money. She cooked and cleaned and did everything an adult woman does. What does she have to do to be mature enough for you?”
“I don’t know.”
“Well, how do you feel about her?”
“I care about what happens to her.”
“That’s a good start, but it’s not much to write home about.”
“What did she say about me?”
“The same thing she tells everyone about you. That you’re the best man in the whole wide world. But I know from her time here with Scarlett that she loves you. Not the love you feel for a dear friend, but the kind a woman feels for a man.”
“It’s hero worship.”
“That’s there too, but I think she really loves you.”
“That’s because I took her away from that place.”
“That’s part of it, but it’s not all of it, Dylan. You’ve really got it bad, you know that?”
“Lovesickness. That’s when you’re in love but you can’t figure it out on your own and you do all manner of stupid things before you finally get it.”
“That’s not what this is. I’m just really tired and feeling a bit sick.”
“That’s exactly what this is. That’s why they call it lovesick. You’re going to feel sick until you tell her you love her and you want her to stay.”
He didn’t say anything. All of his thoughts were jumbled and in the middle of it all was the fear that Molly would leave on the first and he’d never see her again. But he couldn’t be in love with her. She was Molly, the kid he’d saved, the innocent who had a hellish life and a drunken abusive father.
This is one of the Bride Lottery books that has a flu epidemic so you do learn how flu epidemics are handled in this post-apocalyptic world. It also has the hero, Dylan, saving the heroine. Well, really she saves herself and everyone else, but he does risk his life to be with her. 🙂
If you love romances about star-crossed lovers, Bride Lottery #11 Survivor is the sweet Christian romance for you.