The Doctor’s Lady by Jody Hedlund

Priscilla White and Dr. Eli Ernest grudgingly agree to a marriage of convenience when their mission board refuses to send unmarried missionaries into the field. Difficult as it is, Priscilla surrenders her plan of going to India and adopts Eli’s dream of ministering to the Nez Perce natives in the west. They make the trek from Angelica, New York, to Fort Vancouver. The seven-month journey certainly isn’t easy. Many of their travel arrangements fall through, relational tensions arise, Priscilla gets cholera, and the whole group pushes its limits trying to cross the mountains before the snow falls.

I really enjoyed The Doctor’s Lady. Hedlund’s seemingly-effortless writing kept me turning the pages and resulted in more than one lunch break that took just a little too long. I always enjoy historical fiction (especially stories about the journey west), but the relationship is what I love about this book. Both characters have strong personalities—Eli is convinced that Priscilla is too delicate a woman to make the journey, and she is determined to prove him wrong. The resulting tension makes for a great story. Forget the inherent danger of the journey—I kept reading because I wanted to know if Priscilla and Eli would ever stop being stubborn and finally end their “business partnership” in favor of a real marriage.

Priscilla’s inability to have children contributes to the depth of her character and adds an emotional tug. Her inner struggles create a strong subplot that makes the story stand out among other historical Christian romances. Priscilla’s vulnerability in this area is what made me fall in love with her character.

The Doctor’s Lady is Jody Hedlund’s second novel. Her first, The Preacher’s Bride, was released in 2010 and is now on my “Must Read” list. Her website is a fantastic resource and contains links to her blog and articles she’s written about creating compelling stories, making time to write, and getting a publisher’s attention.

*I received a copy of this book from Bethany House Publishers in exchange for my review. My opinion of this book is my own and was not influenced by the publisher or author.