The Sister Wife by Diane Noble
Publisher: Avon Inspire
Pub. Date: June 22, 2010
What if the man you loved told you God wanted him to take another wife? What if that woman was your best friend?
Set in the heart of the earliest days of a new nineteenth-century sect known as the Saints, The Sister Wife is a riveting account of two women forced into a practice they don’t understand, bound by their devotion to Prophet Joseph Smith. When Mary Rose marries Gabriel, neither of them could foresee how quickly the community would turn to the practice of plural marriage. Devastated when Gabe is faced with an order from the Prophet to marry her best friend, Bronwyn, Mary Rose tries to have the faith to carry through with the marriage. But can she really be married to the same man as her very best friend? Can Mary Rose and Bronwyn face betraying both their husband and their God to do what they feel is right?
Lady Mary Rose Ashley agrees to follow her grandfather, the Earl of Salisbury, to America. Little does she know her grandfather has signed away all of their properties to the Prophet Joseph Smith, leaving her no choice but to continue forward with her grandfather’s plans whether she likes it or not. Once aboard the Sea Hawk, Mary Rose continuously questions the rightness of the Saints’ doctrines and enlists the help of Gabriel McKay, the only man on the ship, who seems to lack faith in God.
After witnessing a miracle, they both believe Joseph Smith’s church is God’s ‘one’ true church on Earth. Before the ship docks at the Boston harbor, Mary Rose and Gabriel exchange vows. Soon after arriving at the decreed Holy City, tragedy shakes their new found love, forcing another bride for Gabriel on their marriage, Mary Rose’s closest friend.
“Love has nothing to do with it. I’ve already explained—and really, Mary Rose, I shouldn’t have to keep going over it.” He let out an exasperated sigh. “I’ve not fallen in love with Bronwyn. I don’t deny I care about her. Her husband was my friend. But every ounce of love in my heart is yours alone.”
He touched her face, letting the backs of his fingers trace her jawline. The gesture was so familiar, so intimate, she could easily have wept. Except for the image that came to her: her husband touching Bronwyn’s face with the same intimacy, perhaps as soon as this night.
She drew in a deep breath and then stepped back, crossing her arms. “Perhaps the Prophet has interpreted God’s edict correctly—and I’m not the only first wife in Nauvoo to wonder—but tell me, Gabe, why did it have to be Bronwyn? And why does it have to be marriage? . . .”
Packed with allegories, The Sister Wife, the first book in the Brides of Gabriel series, goes beyond the telling of a simple story. It reaches into the depths of your soul and makes you question what you would do in Mary Rose’s shoes.
Multi Silver Angel Award recipient, Diane Noble creates a wonderful cast of characters in a world many of us could never possibly understand. Noble uses Mary Rose to draw the reader little by little into the story until we are left more heartbroken with each decision made beyond Mary Rose’s control.
The setting, whether at sea, in Nova Scotia, or on the banks of the Mississippi is superbly crafted. Noble has a true gift in weaving her words together to create an unforgettable tale. However, emotionally, this is one of the most difficult pieces of fiction I have ever read. In a culture where monogamous marriages far outweigh those of polygamy, I found it difficult to accept the decisions of Noble’s characters even though she gives them rock solid motivations. But I have to say, it was that difficulty, the warring of said decisions as well as the heartache of the consequences, which drew me and kept me riveted to the story.
As a romance reader I have certain expectations from my books, such as the promised happily ever after. I did not feel as though Mary Rose came to any resolution about her situation other than to carry forward with her husband and his thirst for godlike status with each wife he obtains. And spiritually, Mary Rose continues to waver clear up to the last pages between the new faith of the Mormon Church and that of the one taught her by her mother when she was but a small child.
Speaking of the last pages, at first I was confused, and then upset when I came to the end. The story ends with a cliffhanger, or so I assume. The last chapter stops on a hook before picking up at a later date in the epilogue.
Even though I felt robbed of a satisfying ending, I guess the real question is will I read the second book in the Brides of Gabriel Series? The answer to that question is, yes. Without a doubt.
The Sister Wife is available through Amazon here.
**Disclosure of Material Connection: I received this book free from Avon Inspire. I was not required to write a positive review. The opinions I have expressed are my own. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s 16 CFR, Part 255 : “Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising.”