Love Comes Softly (Love Comes Softly Series, Book 1)

by Janette Oke

Paperback, 2003



Call number



Bethany House Publishers (2003), Edition: Repack, 240 pages


Love Comes Softly introduces the characters of Marty and Clark Davis, whose tragic circumstances brought them to a "marriage of convenience" on the frontier prairies during the mid 1800s. Clark's patient, caring love mirrored that of the heavenly Father, drawing Marty to faith and to love.

User reviews

LibraryThing member seoulful
A lovely frontier story with an interesting plot. A young woman heading west in a wagon train becomes a widow after her husband accidentally dies. A widower with a small child proposes a marriage of convenience--she cares for his child and he provides her with the protection and home she needs
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until the next wagon train going east comes in the spring. We then follow their first difficult year of marriage as Love Comes Softly. Woven into the story is Clark's faith as he shares it with Marty and she slowly accepts it.
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LibraryThing member rampeygirl
Janette Oke does a splendid job portraying the life of a frontier family, and the role that women had during this time period. Marty's stubborness and anger fade away to determination and love. Marti succumbs to what God has placed before her and to God himself.
LibraryThing member inkstained
This is a quick read, not precisely a page-turner, but a nice way to end the day. The first book is largely about the main character's process of overcoming grief and coping with the consequences of the loss of her husband. Such a topic naturally runs the risk of becoming a sob story, and while you
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should certainly keep the tissue nearby, the author is not heavy-handed with the grief. I thought she captured the experience quite accurately, and also has provided a well-thought-out character from whom we might find inspiration for our own difficult experiences. I would recommend this for anyone looking for something inspirational and easy to read, or anyone grieving the loss of a loved one. I think it might be especially interesting to someone looking for an unusual love story that's different from your typical romance.
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LibraryThing member nolak
A very gentle read about a young couple who come by wagon to the great West to start a new life, when Clem is killed upon arrival. A recent widower, Clark Davis, proposes they marry to help each other. He has a daughter and Marty is expecting a child. Their love for each other grows very slowly but
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softly as they work their way in a wilderness home.
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LibraryThing member lindyvee
This book is historical fiction set in the old west frontier about a young, expectant mother who loses her husband suddenly. Alone, broke and afraid, she accepts the marriage offer of a man who needs a mother for his young daughter. During the next year, she cares for this gentle Christian man and
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his child through various hardships as her own faith and love for him strengthens.

My mother read this book first; then, as a young woman I read it. My daughter read it as a teenager and now my granddaughter, age 9, is reading it as well. It is such a timeless piece of literature and can be enjoyed by any age. Their are many valuable lessons about life in this book.

As an extension, a current day cowboy could visit and share his experiences. Hopefully, he would even be able to demonstrate some rope tricks! Also, this reading could be used concurrently with history books to give a personal glimpse of frontier life.
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LibraryThing member beanyncecil
The book is excellent with only one flaw that I see: the dialect. Makes reading more difficult.
LibraryThing member praisemusictlp
Janette Oke did an amazing job on this book. This is probably my favorite book. I read it about once a year. It is heart-felt and hard to put down. I love it! It's funny, moving and shares the gospel.
LibraryThing member mom2lnb
I first read Love Comes Softly when I was only about 15 or 16 years old, and if memory serves, it was my very first romance novel. It seems I must have picked well, because not only is it an appropriate story for younger readers content-wise, but it has stood up to the test of time. I still enjoyed
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it every bit as much today as I did 25 years ago, perhaps even more because I'm seeing it through more mature eyes. Love Comes Softly is something of a Little House on the Prairie story aimed at a slightly older audience. Janette Oke captures that same spirit of the pioneers, depicting their day-to-day lives in a way that made me feel like I was there with them. It amazes me how hard-working and courageous these people were. Ms. Oke paints a picture of joys and sorrow, hardships and laughter against the backdrop of the frontier where close-knit communities of people existed who were willing to help each other in any way they could. She also really brings home the harsh reality for people in that time period, especially women, and how few choices they had. Marty would have been in unbelievably dire straits, and could possibly have even died, if Clark, a stranger to her, hadn't proposed a marriage of convenience. Under the circumstances, it couldn't have been an easy thing for him to do either, but he needed her almost as much as she needed him, even though she didn't want to admit it.

The vast majority (probably more than 95%) of the story is told from Marty's third-person point of view. Marty was a great female lead, but she was also a character who had to slowly grow on me. The author did a wonderful job of palpably expressing Marty's grief over the loss of her first husband. Then Clark came along immediately after her husband's funeral with his proposal. After some thought, Marty, being a practical woman, realized that she really had no other choice, but it didn't stop her from stubbornly resenting Clark for it. Although Marty never gave voice to her angry thoughts in Clark's presence, the reader is certainly privy to them. There were times when I felt like she was being ungrateful for this man taking her in and treating her with kindness and respect, and that she was rather selfish in not even considering the fact that he too might still be grieving the loss of his wife. In her defense though, I carefully considered what it would be like to be in her shoes, and decided that she was for the most part simply having a fairly normal human reaction to being placed in such an untenable position. During these times, I wish that a little more background information had been given about Marty so that I could better understand her reluctance to be beholden to a man, her being suspicious about Clark's kindness, and her inability to perform some of the simplest household tasks. I did admire her determination to uphold her end of the bargain (one way in which her stubbornness served her well), her willingness to learn, and that she always tried her best even when it didn't turn out right. Marty's initial ineptness at cooking and doing household chores could be pretty funny at times. As I continued to read, I realized that the story was really all about Marty's journey back to wholeness and being able to open her heart to love again, and I really enjoyed watching her learn, and change, and most of all grow as a person.

There is a part of me that wishes we could have had a little more insight from Clark's point of view. There were only a handful of times in the entire book where we get to see things from his perspective, and they only last for a couple of paragraphs. However, I think that the author meant for the reader to experience Clark through his actions, and the message that actions speak louder than words came across very clearly through his character. Clark was an incredibly kind and gentle man. He only asked for a mutually beneficial marriage in name only, and even offered Marty an out if she chose to take it. He gave her the space she needed to grieve the loss of her husband. He was never mean or demanding like she expected, but instead treated her with respect and patience when she burned dinner or made a mess of her attempts at cleaning. He even ate pancakes every meal for several days without complaint, and helped with some of the cooking and other chores until Marty got her feet under her. Clark was always caring, thoughtful and understanding, especially after he found out that Marty was expecting. He was an amazing father to Missie, and later, to Marty's child as well. Even Marty realized that Clark always did what was right and best for others, even if it hurt him to do it. I think that the best thing about Clark though was how he quietly “lived” his faith in God through example. He never, ever used it to beat Marty over the head. He just accepted her as she was. It would have been impossible not to love a romantic hero like Clark, and slowly but surely his love (as well as God's love) stole into Marty's heart softly and unexpectedly.

There were a couple of other elements in Love Comes Softly that really drew me in. First was the marriage of convenience which I haven't really read much of in romance before, and I guess had never really thought much about either. After reading this book, I am quite curious to try more romances with this theme. The other was simply the underlying Christian message of the story which I found to be utterly inspiring. I've been very reluctant to read inspirational romances lately because of the preachiness I often find in them, but Love Comes Softly was a truly uplifting novel that brought me back to some simple spiritual truths that had somehow gotten lost in the busy hustle and bustle of everyday life. For that reason alone, I am so grateful that I decided to re-read this book. In fact, the one and only small problem I had with the story was the author's use of backwoodsy vernacular that seemed a little extreme even for the frontier. In my opinion, it made the characters seem somewhat unintelligent which they clearly weren't. Overall though, it was a minor issue, and otherwise, I thoroughly enjoyed every minute of the book. Love Comes Softly is the first volume in the series of the same name. I can't recall how many of the books I read as a teen, but since the latter three were published several years later, I know that I never made it past #5. This all makes me very eager to revisit/discover the rest of the series soon.
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LibraryThing member kathleen586
I wasn't sure how I'd like this book, but I pretty much loved it! I thought it was better than the movie, which is only about 50% the same. The only thing I didn't like was the awful hick dialect almost everyone speaks. It made everyone sound extremely uneducated. (Was that intentional?)

Any other
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faults this book has may be due to its being the author's first novel. One example is Marty making a jumper for little Missie, which is very historically inaccurate.
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LibraryThing member Clare.Davitt
I had to read this for a class called Librarians and Popular Culture. It was all I feared it might be. Insipid comes to mind first... It's a Christian romance set in the Wild West. As one who grew up idolizing Laura Engles Wilder I did find some affection for the plucky young woman striking out on
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the homestead. The paternalistic nature of the story can be assumed although the author is, of course, a woman. Suited for 77-year-old maiden aunts who attend noon Mass on Fridays.
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LibraryThing member BeckyGandee
“Love Comes Softly has a special place in my heart, growing up, I was very limited on what I was allowed to read. The Love Comes Softly series was always a favorite, it has been awhile since I've read them.

I just love Marty and Clark's story, they both suffered so much heartache and were able to
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continue on with the help of each other and God. It's so refreshing to read a book with Bible verses and praying on a daily basis to God. The circumstances they're under are pretty unusual, but I guess back in the day that is what they did to care for themselves and their children.

The books aren't very long so they're pretty easy to ge through .I got the whole series on ebay for pretty cheap, I was pretty excited about it, especially knowing that I can pass them on to my daughter one day. I'm looking forward to reading the rest of this series.”
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LibraryThing member harleyqgrayson02
Love this book. It is set in the Little House era. It tells of a young woman hardship and how she lives through it.
LibraryThing member JenniferRobb
I read this book (and the series) years ago when a friend introduced me to Janette Oke. The book recently came up as a free offering for Kindle so I decided to read it again. I enjoyed it both times.

The title seems to refer to the fact that most of us think that love is some frisson of energy or
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fireworks whenever we're together or something like that, but in reality, sometimes, love sneaks up on you. It might be that after a time of being together as friends etc. that the relationship deepens into love without ever having that initial spark.

In this case, Marty and Clark end up getting married for convenience: Marty's just lost her husband to a sudden illness and is pregnant with his child. Clark lost his wife within the past year and has a young daughter whom he feels needs a mother. The area preacher is a traveling one who is due to leave the next day, so for propriety's sake, they get married, even though they don't live together as husband and wife. Over time though, Marty grows to realize that she loves Clark.
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LibraryThing member SarahGraceGrzy
Well, that ended up being better than I thought.

Overall, I really enjoyed the story. It was very sweet and well-paced. I can't say I'm a huge fan of Oke's writing style. (Please nobody hit me.) It's very stripped down, and doesn't really delve much into the characters emotions. Very prosey. I
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prefer something with a little more "life" to it. And the dialogue . . . I wanted to hit myself over the head with the book a few times because of it. Each character has a very thick backwoods accent, and whether that was realistic or not, it really drew me out of the story. I had to reread a bit of dialogue two or three times just to know what the character was saying. While I often times like the authentic feel accented dialogue gives a character, I think it was too much in this case. I couldn't focus on the story because of it. That was probably my main beef with this book.

The characters were very lovable and sweet, and the story was intriguing and interesting.

All in all, this was kind of a "meh" book for me. I may or may not read more in the series.
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LibraryThing member medwards429
Thank you to JustRead Publicity and Baker Books for providing me with a print copy to review. A positive review was not required nor am I being compensated for this review. This is my first introduction to the series and to this book.

“Love Comes Softly” covers the tragic pairing of 19 year old
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Martha “Marty” Lucinda Dandridge with Clark Davis. After Clem Dandridge’s tragic death and the death of Clark’s wife, Clark suggests that they both get married if only for convenience. Clark needs a mama for his baby Missie while Marty needs a place to stay until she can get home to her family.

That’s all he asks – nothing more.

Marty hates Clark’s suggestion. However, he’ll give her the money to head home if she isn’t happy, but she has to agree to take Missie with her. Marty, being pregnant with Clem’s child, reluctantly agrees to the arrangement.

The first few days aren’t easy for Marty, who is angry and hurting. Still Clark doesn’t complain at all. Missie is confused as to what is going on. Marty doesn’t know the God that Clark believes in, and isn’t sure she wants to.

Marty then slowly starts making Clark’s home her home and caring for Missie. After making friends with Ma Graham, Marty learns the circumstances around Ellen’s death, this softening her own pain.

Marty and Missie start bonding and Clark learns about Marty’s secret – that she is pregnant. Clark makes sure that Marty is comfortable and taken care of, never straying from his promise from “nothin’ more”.

After Marty’s baby is born, things start changing for the Davis family. Ma Graham tells Marty about her own loss similar to that of Marty’s. But, tragedy will strike the Graham family.

Despite catastrophe and sorrow, Marty realizes through God how softly love can come and deepen the affection between two strangers in joy and sorrow.

Oke carefully crafts the story in an endearing manner. For those used to “proper” English – you won’t find it here. Many of the plains people, and those from the South (back East) talked differently (yer, thet, iffen). Some still use “iffen” today along with other words. While that might bother some readers, it is important to remember the time it is set in – education was sometimes an option and not required – children talked like their parents before them as well.

I found the “dialogue” very real and authentic, almost as if I could hear the characters talking as I read along. It brought them to life and you could feel for them and their situation. It was appropriate to the time and circumstances. If you aren’t used to this type of people, it can seem phony or fake. While it took place in the West, we don’t know the origin of the characters, only Marty mentions “back East”.

One reviewer noted the premise of the divorce idea was absurd given the time. Indeed it is. However, it is important to note, that not once in the book was the word divorce mentioned. All Clark said was that he’d give Marty the fare to get back home if she wasn’t happy.

This is book one (1) of the eight (8) “Love Comes Softly” series by Janette Oke that originated in 1979. Over 40 years, this classic has sold 1.6 million copies, and has a new look for the anniversary for a new generation of readers to enjoy. It launched a new wave of Inspirational Fiction as well as Christian Fiction.

It was also adapted by the Hallmark Channel in 2003, becoming one of their most watched films.

It is at times heart-breaking, endearing, frustrating (especially because of Marty’s attitude), beautiful, and inspiring. It is realistic of the times and gives the reader a look at a life that wasn’t always so easy.

There are biblical passages throughout, there are religious references, and there is talk about God.

If you enjoy pioneer, settler, and Christian themed stories – I’d definitely recommend this book. I’m definitely interested in the rest of the series.
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LibraryThing member briandrewz
This was a really sweet love story. Marty Claridge is a recent pioneer widow. On the day of her husband's funeral she is offered a home. The catch? She's got to marry Clark Davis and raise his child. With nowhere to go, Marty decides to accept the offer. What Marty doesn't count falling in
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A quick read, but still poignant.
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Original language


Original publication date


Physical description

8.38 inches


0764228323 / 9780764228322

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