Genre: Christian Historical Fiction
Release Date: January 2013, Thomas Nelson Publishers
Format: eBook (Kindle)
Source: Downloaded as a freebie from Amazon.com
Sometimes it takes a stranger to see you as you really are.
Born and raised on sprawling Texas land, Margaret O’Brien prides herself on her competence as a rancher. But her father believes she’s made for more than just dawn-to-dusk work. He wants her to have the love of a good man, to raise children, to build a life. But Margaret gave up such dreams years ago. She’s convinced no man would have her, that the ranch is her life now.
So when Margaret’s father hires Daniel Cutler as a new foreman, she’s frustrated and suspicious. Then an overheard conversation links him with a gang of bank robbers, and she’s downright worried. Daniel swears he’s not involved, but Margaret’s not convinced. She knows the man still has secrets. But would a criminal be so kind and talk so convincingly of his faith? As a series of tragic “accidents” threatens all she holds dear, Margaret must decide what to trust: her own ears, her best judgment... or what her heart keeps telling her.
I'm a sucker for Western historical fiction, there's no doubt about it. I love romances with cowboys -- always have! Even though I've not read the first book in Coble's Under Texas Stars series, as with many Christian fiction series, this book works well as a stand-alone read -- more so than many other series I've read, in fact. Coble's writing is engaging and easy to read, and in addition to the love story, there is a bit of mystery to this novel, as well.
I will admit this is one of those rare instances that I wish I still gave ratings in half-star increments. I probably would actually give this 3.5 stars instead of 4 stars -- 3 stars seemed too low since I did enjoy most of the story. I liked the feeling of satisfaction and contentment that I felt by the time I finished the book, but the romance was perhaps just a teeny bit too formulaic -- the handsome cowboy falls in love with a plain Jane who just can't understand why he would. I don't mind that storyline, but it is often hard to make it feel fresh with so many stories out there along those lines. And then you've got the action-packed last third of the book... Multiple incredible events occur so rapidly in such a short span of time, it is really just a bit too unbelievable -- exciting, but perhaps a little ridiculous, as well.
With all Christian fiction, my basic requirement is that I don't want to be preached to. I suppose you could say, well, after all it is Christian fiction so what do you expect? Nevertheless, it is possible to write an inspiring story without preaching. Thankfully, it seems fewer authors choose to preach and instead focus more on actual story-telling, but with definite Christian overtones and themes. Coble falls into the non-preachy category, so on that basis alone it was likely I would enjoy this book!
Read this book if you like...
- Christian fiction that isn't too preachy
- Historical fiction set in the early Western frontier
- Books by Tamera Alexander, Kelly Eileen Hake, Janette Oke (and other authors whose books tend towards Western inspirational fiction)
* Originally read in February 2013.