Ruth, written by Lori Copeland and published by Tyndale House (2007), will toss your emotions back and forth between laughter and suspense. Book 5 of Copeland’s Brides of the West Series, Ruth is set in the American West of the 1870’s. The series tells the stories of mail-order brides. In this novel Tom Wyatt, a despicable man, had tricked Jackson Montgomery into bringing a wagon load of brides from Westport, Missouri, to Denver City, Colorado. The young, orphaned women were told that fine, God-fearing husbands were waiting for them. But instead the girls were really being brought West to work in the gold mines. When the wagon master discovered the swindle, he, along with U.S. Marshal Dylan McCall, helped the girls get away.

The novel begins with Ruth’s attendance at the wedding of one of the rescued women. Ruth is also one of those who was rescued. Though she has escaped the hard labor of the mines, this spunky young woman has a new problem. A much older man, a miner, wants to marry her and won’t take no for an answer. Ruth, who has been living with the pastor’s family, decides she has no other options but to leave town. She has a cousin living in Wyoming, whom she believes she can stay with. Marshal McCall will be traveling to Wyoming on a job assignment. Trying to convince McCall to take her ends up with both of them engaged in an argument. They are both so pig-headed that neither one will give in. Dylan McCall says he wouldn’t take her with him if his life depended on it.

Ruth knows that he will be setting out early the next morning, so she decides she will follow him, staying enough away so that he doesn’t know she has come. She hopes that by the time he discovers she has followed him, it will be too late for him to turn back, and that he will have to take her with him the rest of the way.

After a few days, Dylan discovers what she has done, and decides to pretend he is leaving for good to teach her a lesson. She has her horse and only a small amount of food when she realizes he is gone. She almost despairs, but decides to head out and try to find him. Soon, she comes to a deserted wagon with a dead man, another man who is barely alive, and an Indian baby.

Ruth is a Christian. She knows she can’t abandon the man and the baby. As she turns the wounded man over to help him, she sees that he is none other than Dylan. Praying all the while, Ruth takes on the care of Dylan and the baby.

Ruth has recently been told by a doctor she will never be able to have children. She believes no man would ever want to marry her and assumes that she will remain single all her life. But now she finds herself taking care of a baby that she did not birth. She begins to love the child and names her Rose. Ruth finds a cow and so is able to feed Rose. Ruth takes care of Dylan who is in a coma for a few days. As she does, her heart softens towards him and she begins to love him as well.

Many more adventures are in store for this makeshift  little family before they finally settle down and realize they want to be together. Ruth and Dylan see how God has worked amazing miracles in their lives by saving them on numerous occasions and giving them a tremendous love for each other they couldn’t conceive of before.

They eventually marry and return to Denver City.  The novel ends happily. I enjoyed reading this fun, adventurous story, hanging on every word to see what would happen next.  I learned how the Lord uses trials to soften and mold us, and bring us around to His way of serving Him.

Patsy Ledbetter says she has many titles, but her favorite is being mom to her five children. Her two daughters, two sons and one son-in-law are her joy. A teacher with forty years experience Patsy has taught children of all ages and also special needs children and adults. She writes occasionally for a local newspaper and performs in church theater productions on a regular basis. Her husband is the church choir and orchestra director. They have been married for 32 years. She says, “It is my desire to bring honor and glory to my Lord Jesus in every area where He has allowed me to minister.”