HOME SCHOOL BOOK REVIEW
Book: The Stranger’s Wife: The Prairie Series #2
Author: Hilda Stahl
Publisher: Bethel Publishing, 1992
Language level: 1 (nothing objectionable)
Reading level: Older teens and adults
Rating: 4 stars (GOOD)
Reviewed by Wayne S. Walker
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Stahl, Hilda. The Stranger’s Wife: The Prairie Series #2 (published in 1992 by Bethel Publishing, 1819 S. Main St., Elkhart, IN 46516). It is 1890 in Keene, NE, and 25-year-old Maple Raines, daughter of prominent rancher Ben Raines and his wife Leona, is marrying fortyish and rotund Ed Turner, the local banker, whom she does not love but is being pressured into the arranged marriage by her mother. Maple has always done what her mother says. However, the wedding is broken up by men from Buck Lincoln, another local rancher who has a bad reputation. Some of his men take Turner away to Lincoln for some banking business while the others, wanting to have some fun, force Maple to marry Hadley Clements, a young local farmer who happens to be in town. They then escort Hadd and Maple out of town towards his farm.
At first, Maple just wants to run away and go back home, but Hadd cautions her that Lincoln’s men might still be around and harm her if he weren’t around to protect her, so he promises to take her home when things settle down and says they can sleep separately until then. However, over time, Maple begins to respect and even love Hadd, and he seems to be growing fond of her. But Buck Lincoln is trying to steal Hadley’s land and is an ever present danger. Then all of a sudden, Ed Turner arrives at Hadd’s place with Lucy Everett, a mail-order bride from St. Louis, MO, whom Hadley had contacted but hadn’t come. And there’s still talk of annulling Hadd and Maple’s marriage so that she can marry Ed Turner. What is going to happen? Will Buck Lincoln succeed in taking Hadd’s land? And will Maple have the courage to tell her mother how she really feels?
This book would be styled “Christian romance.” It might fall into that category of books which some would use to show how vapid much of what is called “Christian fiction” can be. It is not that much different from the Harlequin type of romance novels except that the seamier material is eliminated while some praying and trusting in God are thrown in, although one can appreciate the fact that with the help of Hadley, Maple does learn to depend on God. If one likes that sort of thing, he will probably enjoy this book. Actually, it is written in a fairly interesting way that keeps a person reading to find out what’s going to happen next. There is really nothing objectionable, other than several references to Hadd’s desire to take Maple to his bed, so it would really not be appropriate for reading aloud to younger children, but older teens, most likely girls, may like it. The catalogue page says, “Other books available in this Prairie Series: Blossoming Love.” It is also by Hilda Stahl and is listed as book #1 in the “Prairie Series,” but it is about a girl named Laurel so I don’t know if it has any direct relationship to The Stranger’s Wife or not.