12 November 2015

Noela reviews THE SUBSTITUTE BRIDE by Carrie Fancett Pagels

The Substitute Bride
Hearts Overcoming Press (October 11, 2015)

Reviewed by Noela Nancarrow
5 Stars *****


The Substitute Bride’ sweeps you up in an enchanting, heart-warming novella that gifts the reader with the message that we are never just a substitute, but chosen specifically by God for His joy and purpose. Upon unwrapping this gift, you discover an engaging story where the past and present collide to create a future of love, healing, and hope!

In the town of Shepherd, Michigan, the lovely Sonja Hoeke works as a substitute mail carrier for her father who was recently injured. Even so, her father—a domineering and ornery man—is desperate to get Sonja out from underfoot and married, and threatens to send her away. Thus, when Sonja happens upon a missive sent to her recently deceased friend Cora from a pen-pal named Louis--and discovers a proposal within—she impulsively replies by offering herself as a substitute bride.
Depot at Shepherd, Michigan

Railroad manager Louis Penwell, meanwhile is on his way to Shepherd to meet his penfriend Cora, hoping to marry her in order to advance within the railroad business. Burdened with the knowledge that she lived at the Poor House—the place of his nightmares—was yet another incentive to marry Cora. How will Louis handle the tragic news when he arrives? And what will his reaction be when he learns that Sonja has offered herself as a substitute bride?


This novella awards the reader with intrigue as our hero Louis receives parcels inscribed with cryptic messages; with drama through the heartless Poor House proprietor; and with a sweet emerging romance. A wonderful cast of characters—including the Reverend Carlton Mathews and his gracious wife Teresa—supplement the endearing heroes of the story. And I always enjoy how author Carrie Fancett Pagels unfailingly enriches her stories with meticulous historic detail... Making it not only informative but delivering an authenticity that ferries you away to another time! It's an honor to highly recommend this book!


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'The Substitute Bride' may be purchased here through: AMAZON

GIVEAWAY: A copy of 'The Substitute Bride' to one blessed commenter in choice of e-book or paperback! To be eligible for the drawing please leave your e-mail using (at) and (dot) to protect yourself against spammers.


63 comments:

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    1. I pray it will bring glory to God, Gay! The only way I could write it was with His help. I'd had major open gall bladder surgery with a long recovery. And just when I thought I'd not be able to get this story written, after publishing Lilacs for Juliana, God enabled me and put helpers all around me, PTL!

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    2. A story borne from hardship Carrie and Gay, sometimes are the most touching of all. There is an inspiring and touching impression that settles upon you as you read this beautiful story!

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  2. What a stellar review, NOELA! Wasn't it fun writing? :) I enjoyed Carrie's novella and the fact that she includes historical details that I never learned in school. At least not in a fun way. lol The depot pic in Shepherd is very cool btw!

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    1. I like history learned through fun reading not dry stuff, Diana, and have always enjoyed historical fiction for that reason. I am so blessed by your review and Noela's! Hugs!

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    2. Absolutely, thoroughly enjoyed reading The Substitute Bride!! And yes, I NEVER knew history could be so fun! They did it all wrong at school! :P

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  3. The book sounds good . I have read one in this collection and it was good . Thanks for this chance .
    lizd225(at)gmail(dot)com

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    1. There are a bunch of great authors in this collection, Liz! I pray you will enjoy my story, too! Blessings!

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    2. Carrie's story is so wonderful, Liz, I hope you get to enjoy it soon!! Awesome collection, too!

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  4. I have always heard stories about a poor house. I used to say that I would be able to buy something as soon as my Rich uncle got out of the poor house. Carrie always makes the story interesting and informative.. fishingjan[at]aol[dot]com

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    1. Hey Jan, my mom used to tease about that but my dad would shake his head when she'd make comments about something going to "put us in the Poor house" lol!

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    2. Wow, that's triggering memories from my childhood... I wonder how that expression made its way to Australia? Or were they called that here too I wonder. Might have to investigate this! Thanks for coming by Jan, and you're so right about Carrie making her stories interesting and informative... I couldn't agree more!

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  5. Noela, Thanks SO MUCH for this wonderful book review!!! I am so touched!!! I really do seek to take the reader "there" to the historical place and to put them "in the character's head" with my characters! I really loved working with Sonja and with Louis. You know, there is just a little bit of Scrooge in him! A tiny bit but he has to overcome that. I loved Sonja and I would really like to be her friend--she is so nice. Yes they all seem real to me, but that's all good--hopefully it helps the reader see them as real people!

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    1. Thank you so much Carrie, I'm so glad you liked the review! Thank you for blessing me and others with sharing this beautiful story, the wonderful characters, and your amazing knowledge and research!!!

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    2. You are so sweet, Noela! God bless you for all you do to read and review Christian fiction! We're so glad you joined us on the blog!!!

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    3. Aww thanks, Carrie! I feel so blessed that God and you teamed up to get me on your special OWG blog!! :)

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  6. Sounds like a good book and the perfect time to read it! grandmama_brenda(at)yahoo(dot)com

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    1. Absolutely Brenda, a perfect time to read this charming story of Carrie's as we near Christmas, a time we celebrate the birth of Christ and the hope it brought to the world. In The Substitute Bride, the heroine Sonja Hoeke desperately needs hope too!!

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  7. Thanks for your beautiful review, Noela - can't wait to read 'The Substitute Bride'!! The storyline sounds as if it contains dysfunction and emotion (some of my fave story elements), as well as romance. As with other commenters, I enjoy learning bits of history through reading historical fiction, although I never enjoyed it when in school.

    Congrats on another touching story, Carrie!!

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    1. Thanks Bonnie, and I'm sure this story of Carrie's will make your history lessons seem like a far away bad memory, lol!!

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    2. Thanks so much, Bonnie! I hope you will love the book! I would say Sonja's father is more ill with his diabetes and grumpy than he is truly dysfunctional, but he and his wife have not paid their youngest daughter the attention she could have used! Hugs!

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  8. This does sound lovely thank you.

    marypres(AT)gmail(DOT)com

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    1. It surely is, Mary!! I hope you get to read Carrie's charming story soon and be thoroughly blessed by it!

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  9. This sounds awesome! I'm sure Carrie doesn't disappoint! Thanks for the review & the chance to win Noela!

    RW620 (at) aol (dot) com

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    1. She certainly doesn't, Robin!! Thank you Robin and all the best with your entry!!

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    2. You are so sweet, Robin! I always love it when I can find an author I can count on to not disappoint and I'm glad you think I am one for you! Blessings!

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  10. I have my fingers crossed for sure and I cannot wait to read this little gem. Thank you for the great review and giveaway.

    mauback55 at gmail dot com

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    1. Thanks so much Melanie and I'm hoping for a win for you, too!! It's a pretty special little gem. :)

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    2. Hoping you'll enjoy it Melanie! Suggest it to your book club, if you like it! Blessings!

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  12. O, what a sweet novella and I love the cover! Great review, Noela! I love the picture you included too! No need to include me in the giveaway. I already have a copy. :) have a great weekend, everyone!

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    1. Thanks Annie, so sweet of you to come by!! I hope you have a wonderful weekend also!! Hugs!

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  14. The Substitute Bride sounds charming, please add me to the drawing!
    worthy2bpraised at gmail dot com

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    1. It is very charming, Merry, and I hope you'll get to read The Substitute Bride soon to see for yourself! :) Blessings!!

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    2. Hi Merry, best wishes! I hope you'll get to read this story that God was so good to gift me with!

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  15. Thank you Noela for this wonderful review of another of Carrie's books. I have been a fan of Carrie's for a while and love everything of hers that I have read. This looks like another great story and I would love to win, but if I do not, it will be on my wish list! Joyce - Heart"wings" joyce1510(dot)jrg(at)gmail(dot)com

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    1. Thank you Joyce! You're sure to love this one as well my friend!! Here's hoping you you get to enjoy it soon! God bless!

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  16. Look forward to reading this book by a new-to-me author. reneerachoyolsenATgmaolDOTcom

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    1. Awesome, Heather!! I hope you get a chance to read Carrie's story, soon. All the best!

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    2. Hi Heather, I hope you will check out my other books, too! Blessings to you!

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  17. Love the cover and the story sounds good too. kamundsen44ATyahooDOTcom.

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    1. Great cover, isn't it Kim? I'd love to have a snowglobe like that! :) I hope you get to cozy up to this story soon!

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    2. I hope you will get a chance to read my new novella, Kim! Blessings!

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  18. The book reminds me of what happened in the West with Mail-Order Brides. Men corresponding with women sight unseen and neither one knows what they are getting themselves into. It sounds a lot like blind dates or in this day and age, online dating.
    I would love to win a paperback copy of "The Substitute Bride".
    Janet E.
    von1janet(at)gmail(dot)com

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    1. It'd be a terrifying thing to do don't you think, Janet? You'd have to do a lot of reading in between the lines I'd imagine! ;) Here's hoping you win a copy!

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    2. Hi Janet! Yes, this idea started out with me thinking along those lines but as I went forward with my research the story morphed into a pen pal relationship like you mention, along the lines of internet friendship or dating. Hope you get to read the book soon!

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  19. Hi ladies, I want to apologize. I've realized that whenever I comment using my mobile, it post double. Not sure why. So sorry to take up double space! =) (I might not be able to fix it.)

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    1. Not a problem at all, Annie!! We have plenty of space to share! ;) I should be able to delete the extra copy from my end, so I'll give that a go.

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  21. What an amazing review! This book sounds amazing! I love the cover. I always wondered what it would be like to do something such as being a mail ordered bride. Of course, in today's world....it would be more challenging I imagine.

    Lonewolfgirl7 (@) gmail. (com)
    Lonewolfgirl7 (at) gmail. (com)

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    1. My heroine, Sonja Hoeke, soon regrets her impulsive actions once she contemplates what she could be getting herself into, Halita! I hope you will get to read soon!

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    2. So glad you were able to come by Halita!! I wish you all the best with your entry, and thanks so much for your kind words! I totally agree with you too btw about it being challenging... And very, very brave!!

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  22. many times, what we feel is a 'substitute' is what God meant for us to have all along & we are so much the better for it. this story sounds like the embodiment of just that type happening. looking forward to the chance to read this book.
    redhvn56 @ bellsouth. net

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    1. You're so right 'redhvn', and this book is a wonderful example of how God does that! All the best with your entry!!

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    2. Redhvn I LOVE that you "got" what I was after!!! Sonja feels like she is a substitute everything!!! But God never intended for her to be a substitute--He had a plan for her all along!

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  23. I am so Excited about this series, I love things about Brides not sure why, maybe because I am. A Hopeless Romantic!

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    1. Join the club Tina, I think we all are hopeless romantics here lol!! Hope you get to enjoy this sweet romance soon! :)

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    2. I like some women's fiction, too, and some other types of fiction but romance is a favorite, Tina! Blessings!

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  24. I can't wait to read this! I jumped to my friend Amazon and ordered it for my Kindle.... Noella, great review as always and I love what you guys do not only for Christian Fiction, but for people. You are such a blessing to so many! Thank you for this chance and reminder to grab this book!!!

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    1. Aww thanks, you are a blessing to all of us here, Ruth!! Enjoy Carrie's book as I know you will!! :) Hugs!!!

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    2. I pray you will enjoy the read, Ruth! This morphed from a short story to a novelette to a standard size novella! God sent some good help my way that had me adding to the storyline! Thanks, Noela, for your great review!

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  25. Thanks so much for the review. Sounds like a wonderful story! :) Thanks also for offering the giveaway.
    Have a great week!

    Karen
    klange61AThotmailDOTcom

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