Bride Lottery #21: The Little Wife by Caty Callahan is a Christian sweet romance set in a post-apocalyptic future where men outnumber women a dozen to one.
10 out of 10 stars. Every time I read one of Caty’s novels I say it’s my favorite. Well, this is one of my favorites.
Ben Murphy has never entered the bride lottery before (to get a bride) because he has so much to lose in a halving (if they divorce he loses half of everything), but then he gets a chance at as sure a thing as ever is going to come by–a rigged lottery. His plans are to marry Elise Fairweather, the lethal daughter of a wealthy businessman who can give Ben access to some of the best contracts in the country. Then the Brennanmen (peacekeepers) bring a young girl into the lottery changing the odds. Worse yet they reopen the lottery and invite all the young men to enter and they do. Ben tries to remove his name, but the Brennanmen are already suspicious that this was a rigged lottery, punishable by being banned from the lottery forever, so Ben stays in. And wouldn’t you know, he’s called last and gets her name, Hannah Hannigan.
Hannah has no luggage and only the clothes on her back. Every inch of her is black and blue. She’s been badly beaten. Ben discovers this when they get to the hotel. He also discovers her mother did this to her when she tried to kill her. :0
Little by little we discover what happened to Hannah and her family, they were slowly poisoned with arsenic in their water until one of their children died, the youngest. Since the youngest was the mom’s favorite she blamed Hannah and tried to kill her. She literally was not in her right mind from the arsenic poisoning which made her aggressive. Hannah doesn’t know she has a ticking time bomb inside of her. At some point she will be exposed to arsenic in water again (it’s present in all water to some extent) and her heart will stop beating.
I think part of what I found so enchanting about this particular story is that this a very real possibility when you live on a farm and have a private well. I know because I suffered from rust poisoning as a child from our private well. Unless you pay a great deal of money to have your well water tested by a lab, you have no idea what you’re drinking, showering in, or bathing in. Most farmers don’t have that done.
Hannah’s life on Ben’s huge ranch is blissful. He has created his own little family there with Pierre his chef, Matt his right hand, and a group of men he treats like family. He gets Hannah a puppy he calls Squirt and they more or less become a family without intimacy. They sleep in separate bedrooms and it’s very platonic. Then one day she hits the tipping point of arsenic exposure and almost dies in the woods. Squirt saves her. Having spent the last three months of her life in guilt and depression over the death of her younger sister, she knows firsthand the guilt Ben will have if she dies. So she leaves him, travels around the country, and collects her own family.
Yes, it does have a happy ending and yes they do end up back together, but getting there is a lot of fun. This is one of those romances you won’t want to put down.
10 out of 10 stars for a beautiful love story about a man who thinks he has everything and a girl who literally loses everything.