Eternal optimist and dedicated daughter, Hope Irvine, cannot wait to serve alongside her father as a missionary in his traveling chapel car. When they reach a rural mining town in West Virginia, Hope sees endless ways to bring joy and aid to its families and surrounding areas. Local miner, Luke Hughes, feels called to become a preacher, but has no way to attend school or earn a living outside the mining community he'd always known. While he is immediately drawn to Hope, he begins to wonder if she returns his affections when she spends time with the untrustworthy son of Luke's employer, Kirby Finch. Will Hope's desire to find the good in everyone blind her to Kirby's faults and put her in danger? Will Luke be able to convince her of Kirby's true intentions without appearing to simply be jealous?
Judith Miller brings the fascinating world of the coal industry to life in The Chapel Car Bride. Miller's portrayal of the relationships between the miners and the wealthy mine owners, the colorful depiction of the mining families, the seedy underground of bootleggers and revenuers, and a bustling railroad make for a thoroughly entertaining setting. Additionally, Luke is a believable and worthy protagonist and romantic lead. I did, however, find myself regularly frustrated with Hope. While it's certainly noble to strive to forgive every offense and believe the best in people, Hope's utter naiveté is far more annoying than it is endearing. I enjoyed Kirby as an antagonist, but unfortunately his storyline ends in an abrupt and very unsatisfying way. Miller's latest has potential and several high points, but I just never truly found myself engaged in the story.
I received a free copy from the publisher. No review, positive or otherwise, was required—all opinions are my own.