Unconditional Recommendation: A letter ordering Irena to travel to America to become a bride brings love into Irena’s life—the love of the Savior, the love of a man, and the love of friends.
Genre: Historical Christian Romance
I love Irena. I LOVE Irena! This is by far my favorite book of the series because of the character of Irena and her story. There’s no action, no gunfights or kidnapping; it’s a book of real life highs and lows with characters as real as I am. Besides Irena, what I love most about this book is how uplifted I feel after reading it. The wealth of spiritual content contained in this story encourages positive and godly thinking. Having just finished this book for the first time I feel thankful, heartened and hopeful.
Her aunt’s letter is a command that Irena must obey. Travel across the ocean to America, where there’s a husband and a home waiting for her. So Irena sets off filled with trepidation and uncertainty but also filled with hope—hope that she can leave behind her life of loneliness and servitude and finally have a place she can call her own. But she finally arrives in Minnesota to a grouchy mother-in-law and a husband who doesn’t even want her.
Rex Newly has watched his sibling get married one by one and knows his turn will come eventually, but he’s in no hurry. He wants to take his time and be sure of God’s leading for his life. So how is it that he suddenly finds himself engaged to be wed and building a house for his prospective bride?
Irena’s Bond of Matrimony is Margo Hansen’s fourth book in her series about romance and adventure set in the north woods of Minnesota. As Irena continues her search for belonging, Rex considers where God is leading him. Both will learn that the paths they start out on may not turn where they expected, but that they ultimately arrive at the destination set by God.
Salvation – Everyone is inherently a sinner on their way to hell and no one is going to heaven because of their good works, good life, or lack of certain sins. This book bases all of its spiritual interactions (including sharing the gospel) on this true premise. I’ll talk more about this in the Goodness and Truth section.
Grief – There are several kinds and causes of grief portrayed in this book such as being separated from children you’ve taken care of or losing someone you love because they didn’t choose you. All hit you right in the heart.
Family – When Irena comes to America she experiences two different kinds of family: one of home and marriage and the other of like-minded believers her own age. Family has always been a strong theme throughout all of Margo Hansen’s books and we see yet again how family supports one another and is made to expand to include more members in love.
Friendship – Irena hasn’t had friends—much less a close friend—for most of her life. It isn’t until after she’s married and living in Minnesota that she makes some close friends of women—of a variety of ages. I love that this book shows friendships, especially between believers, is not bound to age or even to upbringing. These friendships encourage Irena in her spiritual growth and take care of her during a trial. Her friends exceeding care for her is so familiar to me because I’ve had the same kind shown to me over the years with believer friends.
The Gospel – The Biblically-accurate gospel is given at least three times throughout the book to three different characters and each time it’s done in a way that’s true to the story and the characters involved. It never feels forced or out of sync with the story and the conversions are believable and clear. As someone who’s heard the gospel many times many ways, I found these parts in the book really enjoyable as they serve to remind me just how powerful and meaningful the message of Christ’s work on the cross is. It’s so wonderful to read a book in this genre with an accurate gospel—a majority of them get it wrong and I end up cringing through the whole scene. It’s not so with Margo Hansen’s books! Praise the Lord!
Growing in the Lord – Once saved, Irena has a thirst to learn more and she does so through reading the Bible regularly herself, hearing the Bible taught at church, attending a Bible study, and asking questions and speaking to other believers about it all. Her spiritual growth is portrayed very naturally and as something that takes time and learning. It’s very well done.
Walking by Faith – As a part of growing in her knowledge of the Lord, Irena also learns to walk through life by faith. They go hand in hand and are wonderfully portrayed in this story. Most Christian fiction books are unclear about the differences between truths that apply to salvation/justification and the Christian life/sanctification. Margo Hansen has done a great job of being clear and careful with her use of spiritual truths within her stories and this one is no exception.
I became enchanted with Irena from the first chapter. I love her shy, sweet character and how she does good things for others and serves selflessly regardless of her position. I cried on and off through the whole book! Irena takes a place in your heart because she expects little but is greatly gratified when she’s treated well or her needs are met. She starts out as such a lonely and subservient little creature and your heart warms to see her small acts of bravery along the way of making new friends and developing the relationships of her new family in America. It’s heartening to see her learn about Jesus Christ, God, the gospel, and the Word of God throughout the book. Another quality I love about her is her high regard for working hard. She likes to work and does it efficiently. She never complains and is a humble character. There are so many good things to say about her! Please read the book and get to know her yourself.
The usual and expanding gang of Sand Creek and Grandville, Minnesota returns again to this installment, though I feel this story focuses much more on Irena than Jade’s Courting Danger and Emma’s Marriage Secret did with their main characters.
The plot moves along at a steady pace and though it wasn’t suspenseful in a high-action sense, I had a hard time putting it down because of my great need to see what happens to Irena in her interesting circumstances of an arranged marriage. I definitely did not predict anything that happened in this book and thoroughly enjoyed the experience of discovery.
As I mentioned before, the experience of reading this book squeezes your heart and when I finished reading it I felt uplifted, encouraged, and thankful to be saved and a child of God. This book motivates you to look up and remember who your good God is. I’m happy that this book is mine to experience again and again and while it sits on my shelf, I’ll look at it with fondness.
The ending is satisfying and just right, like when you take the last delicious bite of a really good meal and lean back into your chair with a sigh. Please enjoy Irena’s story and the fourth installment of this wonderful series.