At Love's Bidding by Regina Jennings
Bethany House Publishers
❤ Goodreads Synopsis ❤
After helping her grandfather at their Boston auction house, Miranda Wimplegate discovers she's accidentally sold a powerful family's prized portrait to an anonymous bidder. Desperate to appease the furious family, her grandfather tracks it to the Missouri Ozarks and makes an outlandish offer to buy the local auction house if they promise not to sell anything until he arrives.
Upon their arrival, however, they discover their new business doesn't deal in fine antiques, but in livestock. And its manager, ruggedly handsome Wyatt Ballentine, is frustrated to discover his fussy new bosses don't know a thing about the business he's single-handedly kept afloat. Faced with more cattle than they can count--but no mysterious painting--Miranda and Wyatt form an unlikely but charged partnership to try and salvage a bad situation getting worse.
❤ My Thoughts ❤
I'm saddened to give At Love's Bidding such a low rating considering I enjoyed Caught in the Middle so very much. But this story just did not work for me. The synopsis, as I hope you read above, sounds intriguing, but once I really dove into the book itself I quickly realized that the story should have taken a different turn and even a different perspective on its lead characters.
I never understood why Miranda is so timid and shy, to never speak up for herself, and then why she chooses to start speaking up for herself, only at the wrong times and in the wrong, fairly insolent, ways. I wanted to like Wyatt, but there isn't enough meat to his character to really know him. Plus, his back story is too far-fetched to be believable at all.
The lack of believablility really is this story's downfall. The wrong painting gets sold, Miranda and Grandpa travel to Missouri to track it down, Grandpa buys a desolate livestock auction barn, Wyatt is an employee of that barn and falls in love with Miranda and she with him, painting shows up on Wyatt's doorstep, leading him to clues about his supposedly wealthy blood relations since he was adopted. It just doesn't make sense and the story gets more outrageous as you go along.
It's not a difficult read. I finished it in a few days. But I wasn't invested and 70% of the time all I could think was how absurd it all was and was hoping the end would come soon so I could move on to something else. And once I realized that Miranda never wore gowns other than varying shades of brown and that she never handled the livestock herself, then even the cover of the book made absolutely no sense.
Faith-based elements felt forced and, honestly, wrong. Wyatt ponders forgiving Miranda for her behavior against him but then notes that he can't do that until she behaves as though she's sorry. No, we forgive whether the other person is ever sorry or not. Every Christian knows that part of Jesus' teaching.
Miranda's snotty attitude grated on me almost constantly. She lives so solidly in a world comprised of walls between classes that she can't imagine herself loving Wyatt because he is so far beneath her and then when it turns out he may be the heir to an enormous fortune, she realizes how hypocritical it would be to acknowledge her love for him now. She never really got over her issue of separation between classes which means she never really changed other than to become more outspoken than was healthy. Speak, yes, but make sure you pause and think first.
I like Regina Jennings as a writer. She has a fluid, easy style that makes for lighthearted books when you need something to give your brain a break. But the story still needs to make sense and sense was definitely lacking in At Love's Bidding.
* I received a free copy of this book from Bethany House Publishers in exchange for an honest review, which I have given.