WARNING: Reading this article may give away things in the story ranging from unimportant to plot turners.
Married in Black by Christina Cordaire
Type: Christian Fiction, Romance
Basic Plot: Virginia Davenport’s husband has died in the war. David Norris, a rich rancher, is looking for a perfect woman. The two marry, expecting a life of bliss and pleasure, but each find that the other is holding some pretty guarded secrets.
Plot: 3/5 Average: The plot is in many ways cliché. It mixes the many genres of arranged marriage, Christian romance, and western together. In a way, it reminds me of a uptown version of A Bride for Donnigan (when considering plot). Characters marry out of need, move to the west, Victorian, get closer to God, and fall in love. Though the plot is cliché, I think the presentation is what saved it.
The characters were in the same boat. The personalities were realistic for a romance light hearted romance novel, though cliché. The common mysterious but nice male love interest is used, as well as the female being a mixture of submissive Christian maiden and rebellious woman child. (I know, a paradox, but a paradox not too infrequent in Christian fiction.)
Writing Style and Setup: 3½/5 Above Average: The writing style of this book are not extraordinary, but are better than a lot of Christian fiction books I have read. It was smooth and palatable to the mind. Though the plot was cliché, it was presented in a way that fans of the genre would eat it up with pleasure. One wants to know what happens, and the mind is not dulled by poor or boring writing.
As for pacing, it was a bit slow at times and a little to fast at others, but was all in all agreeable. I do think it may have been a bit too long, but then again, I am a very succinct writer myself. I believe that every word written should be there out of necessity, and not a syllable more.
Moral: 3/5 A Good Moral: The overall moral of the story is to trust God, as Virginia has to trust God after she has married her husband. She finds out some things that she does not like about him and has to hand these over to God. Another good lesson is that one should pray about and think about big decisions like marriage before just acting. Virginia does neither before she marries David, and even in the face of warning signs that this is not the person she should marry, she pushes them aside and marries him anyway.
Overall: 3½/5 Above Average: Though not outstanding, Married in Black, in quality, is a good read over a few afternoons. It’s something I could see a bed ridden patient, elderly lady, or middle school girl reading to pass lonely hours, especially if they are a fan of Jannette Oke books (though in my opinion, this book was much, much better).
Sexual and Inappropriate Content: 2/5 Suggestive Themes: It is mentioned that a man looks at his wife, with her bare shoulders, with “hunger.” There are several very light references that a couple made or will make love in writing and speech, but they are done in such a way that innocent minds probably won’t pick it up. A woman blushes at some of these comments. It mentions that a husband made his wife “his in every way on the nights.” A woman has originally low dresses, though her husband has her wear extra cloth where her breast would be showing. A man helps his wife undress from her outer clothes, and he sees his wife in her corset and petticoat. A man drops his partially dressed wife in a lake while she is wrapped in a blanket. A man is briefly mentioned to be a “flirt.” Married characters kiss at least eighteen times (maybe more), though it is not ever described in detail, sometimes the emotions are briefly mentioned. Unmarried characters that are engaged kiss twice and hug once. Married characters hug, and a man carries his wife at least once.
Violence: 2/5 Light Violence and Brief Mentions: A man shoots at some characters. A man purposefully bumps a woman into a wall. A woman playfully punches her husband once. A woman imagines people falling in front of animals and vehicles and being killed. A woman several times wants to hurt her husband and sometimes teases about it. This includes kicking, pinching, and throttling. A character is mentioned to be worried about his daughter being scalped. A woman worries that a man will try to hurt her husband. Characters talk about humans and animals potentially getting hurt.
Swearing and Using the Lord’s Name in Vain: 2/5 Brief Swearing: God’s name is taken in vain once, but the offender is rebuked. A man misuses “jackass” once.
Emotional, Intense, and Disturbing Content: 1/5 Brief Mention: A woman worries briefly that a horse will die and that she and her husband will be crushed or hurt by a wagon. A man and woman get caught in a storm; it is not really scary, though a woman is scared by a falling tree. Characters talk about dueling for honor. Falling and snakes bites are mentioned together once. A man worries briefly that he accidentally drowned his wife, though it is soon revealed that he had not. A woman thinks that her daughter is better as a mail order bride than bride to a “maimed survivor of war.” Several men died in the Civil War, which is referred to throughout the book. A man says that he is a “good shot.” Characters mention or do feel pain from riding horses and wagons. Characters cry from loneliness. A horse is named “Crusader.” “Die,” “plague,” “war,” and “wound” are used for descriptive purposes, as well as things such as “a bear with a soar paw.”
Religious Issues: 1½/5 Some Controversy: A woman accidentally marries a non-Christian. A woman once talks about luck, but both she and another character conclude that it is not real. A woman thinks about how she had though herself “lucky” instead of blessed. A man jokes about naming his horses after the four Gospels, but after being reproved, he admits it was “disrespectful” and chooses not to. One briefly mentioned church is called Saint John’s Episcopal Church. “Herculean” is used for descriptive purposes. A man asks his wife if figuratively her husband’s “ghost will be between” them.
Magic: ½/5 Brief Mention: “Fairy tale,” “magic,” “magical,” and “ogre” are used for descriptive purposes.
Others: A saloon is briefly mentioned. A man lies that he named his horse after a drunkard. A woman’s clothes are sometimes said to be a bit manly in style. “Gamble” is used for descriptive purposes.
Overall: More conservative Christians will not like, and may even be disappointed, in the swearing and sensual content. I was a little disappointed. I understand unsaved people using this kind of content in their writing, but rarely do I understand born again Christians doing so. More liberal Christians may have no problem with some of the things in here, and if so, I would recommend it for preteens at least twelve and older.