Oregon Outback (Romancing America)

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Elizabeth Goddard

July 2012

Barbour Books

352 pages

 

A Synopsis of the Four Books:

Comprising four novellas in one volume: A Love Remembered, A Love Kindled , A Love Risked, and A Love Recovered, is about four brothers journey to find love. It begins with FBI agent Jonas Love who brings trouble back home, endangering his life and that of an old flame. The second is about cattle rancher Carver Love who finds himself falling for the sheriff in the midst of chasing down modern-day rustlers. Thrill-seeker Lucas Love is featured in the third book —  a man who fears nothing until he meets a beautiful bookkeeper. And finally, Justin Love is trailing a fugitive in book four who’s heading too close to home—and one particular lodge keeper. How will God protect these men as they risk their lives to defend the ones they love?  

My Take:

Elizabeth Goddard is a good writer who creates believable likeable characters. The story runs through each novella, linking them together into one enjoyable whole. Unfortunately, my problem with the books is the problem I always have with novellas – they’re too short. I would imagine Ms. Goddard faces the same frustration in writing them that I did in reading them, namely, the extras and embellishments that make romances so much fun to read are missing. In 40,000 words, she must streamline the story and lay out the characters cleanly, which doesn’t allow for any extras that contribute so much to a book. I want to know the particulars about Carver and the sheriff’s original showdown, not a recap. How did Justin Love come to believe he was too dangerous to return to his family? What pivotal event marked his life? Hints aren’t enough for me, nor is the author’s say-so, I want to hear it myself from the characters experiences. Yes, the bare-bones of the background of the story is given, but we don’t experience it and that is a huge drawback.

My Rating: A 3 out of 5 simply because of their brevity.

Gone to Green [The Green Series]

Gone to Green [The Green Series]

Judy Pace Christie

Abingdon Press, 2009

225 pages

 

Book Summary:

In Gone to Green, Lois goes from being a corporate journalist at a large paper in the Midwest to the owner of The Green News-Item, a small twice-weekly newspaper in rural North Louisiana. The paper was an unexpected inheritance from a close colleague, and Lois must keep it for at least a year, bringing a host of challenges, lessons, and blessings into her life.

When Lois pulls into Green on New Year’s Day, she expects a charming little town full of smiling people. She quickly realizes her mistake. After settling into a loaned house out on Route 2, she finds herself battling town prejudices and inner doubts and making friends with the most surprising people: troubled teenager Katy, good-looking catfish farmer Chris, wise and feisty Aunt Helen, and a female African-American physician named Kevin.

Whether fighting a greedy, deceitful politician or rescuing a dog she fears, Lois notices the headlines in her life have definitely improved. She learns how to provide small-town news in a big-hearted way and realizes that life is full of newsworthy moments. When she encounters racial prejudice and financial corruption, Lois also discovers more about the goodness of real people and the importance of being part of a community.

While secretly preparing the paper for a sale, Lois begins to realize that God might indeed have a plan for her life and that perhaps the allure of city life and career ambition are not what she wants after all.

My take:

I believe I have found a new favorite series. The novel is seamlessly written and drew me into the story from the first page. It moves briskly with no awkward scene changes.

While the newspaper’s struggle for survival is the lynchpin of the book, the counter balance is Lois’ unwilling examination of her anger towards God, stemming from the death of her mother. In her urban lifestyle she had been able to ignore God’s nudges, but in Green, smack in the Bible belt, where everyone goes to church and her nearest neighbor is an open and friendly female pastor, she gradually begins to deal with her misconceptions about God. Lois’ spiritual struggle is revealed through conversation between her and Jean, her pastor and neighbor.

I enjoyed getting an inside look at the newspaper business, and the politics involved in keeping it solvent in a small town, where the biggest advertisers are sometimes also the worst offenders and not happy at being on the front page of the paper.

The ending is predictable, but that’s one reason we read romances, right? Lois falls in love with Green and decides to settle forever, and we look forward to seeing if the hint of a developing love interest in a widower in town will go anywhere in the next book.

My Rating: I loved it, 5 ouf of 5

A Vote of Confidence

 By Robin Lee Hatcher

Zondervan 2009

273 pages

I am a sucker for happy endings which explains why my reading path curves towards romances and away from the Hunger Games. I’m the reader who turns to the last page of a mystery to make sure it will have a happy ending. Why waste hours on a book that’s not going to end well? I especially enjoy inspirational romance. I grew up reading Grace Livingston Hill and as an adult have enjoyed the growth of Christian romance by the new crop of Christian writers. One of those writers is Idaho native, Robin Lee Hatcher.

I recently discovered one of her newer series, the Sisters of Bethlehem Springs. The first book in the series, A Vote of Confidence, is set in the early twentieth century in a fictitious Idaho town called Bethlehem Springs. Guinevere Arlington has moved to Idaho to build a relationship with her father and the twin she never knew. And while Idaho is quite a change from her wealthy east coast upbringing she discovers an affinity for her new rural life. As she becomes involved with the town’s citizens, she is made aware of the corruption in the current town government and decides to run for mayor. Opposing her for the position is Morgan McKinley, an attractive entrepreneur who is building a health resort. When she and Morgan fall in love, Gwen is forced to decide whether her desire to help her town is worth the chance of losing the man she loves.

Robin Hatcher creates strong Christian characters who face their battles with courage and the conviction that God directs their steps trusting Him to bring good out of every situation. If I have an on-going problem with inspirational romance it is the feeling that sometimes I’m being hit over the head with a 50-pound Bible and Robin portrayed Gwen and Morgan’s spiritual life without preachiness. She followed St. Francis of Assisi’s advice of “Preach the gospel at all times — If necessary, use words.” Robin Lee Hatcher understands that her characters need to demonstrate their faith not preach it.