Sweetwood Bride
by Pamela Morsi, historical (1999)
Harper, $6.99, ISBN 0-06-101365-X


There's something about a good slice of Americana that leaves a nice warm afterglow in me. I wonder if I was the only one who was sorry to see the demise of Diamond's Homespun romance line. I mean, after a long procession of tortured dark rakes and contemporary millionaires, it is always pleasurable to read about a hardworking, steady, noble farmer or mountain man hero and his feisty, independent love. These folks are quite real after all. They are nice people like you and me, no one larger-than-life. And Pamela Morsi does wonderful Americana romances, doesn't she? Whenever I'm in a Road to Avonlea fix, I'll turn to her wonderful classics like Wild Oats, Courting Miss Hattie, and Simple Jess. Nice people, a heartwarming romance, and a nice idealistic country setting.

And in all these, Sweetwood Bride delivers. It's just that I get very irritated with the heroine Eulie Toby after a while.

Eulie Toby marries reclusive Mosco Collier (Moss to everyone) in a shotgun wedding after she lied to everyone that Moss had taken advantage of her. Her reason? She needs to get married so that she can have a home. A home is important to keep her siblings from being parceled away after her father's death. Trouble is, Moss has plans to move away from this place which has been his home all his life. He has saved all his life for that one big day when he would bid the mountains farewell. Eulie's arrival puts a halt to all that.

Now, I cannot find it in myself to look about Eulie in any favorable light. Her trick is just plain mean. It makes things worse that she goes on for the rest of the book ignoring everyone's wishes - Moss', her siblings' - all for the sake of the right thing, i.e. her version of rightness. She ignores her siblings' none-too-subtle protests that they can't stand each other. She thinks if she musters up a good effort to be a good wife all will be forgiven. All this while walking around being Miss Sunshine with her Pollyanna views. Eulie, if I were Moss, you'd be dunked in the river by now. The first five chapters of Pollyanna everything-is-gonna-be-alright prattles are fine, ten chapters of it and I'll go diabetic. And if anyone says that annoying phrase husband-man to me again, I won't be responsible if he or she ends up bald.

Poor Moss. He's a really nice fellow. Gruff, awkward, angry with Eulie yet always kind, I can't help feeling he deserves better. He's a lonely man with so many dreams to carry out once he is discharged of his responsibilities, I feel so angry at Eulie for him.

Oh, and it's a pity no one give that shrill, annoying, scream-happy Minnie a good smack in the face.

Make no mistake, Pamela Morsi writes well. There is nothing technically wrong with this book. The warmth, the atmosphere, and best, of all, the always-wonderful epilogue, they're all here. Just wish Eulie isn't.

I enjoyed this book because of dear, adorable Moss and poor Ransom Toby who should get his own story when he grows up. I wished the author had given Eulie the good shaking she deserves, and another one for that Uncle Jeptha, who starts out such a poor tortured man and ends up whiny halfway. So I guess it's a balance, a 50-50 sort of thing.

Rating: 51


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