I thoroughly enjoyed this book.
Five out of five stars.
(Hmmm, I’ll have to make a legend for the ratings scale.)
This is the second book I’ve read of Julie Klassen’s, and, in the (Christian, historical) romance genre, both novels encased pounding hearts and clasped hands in a well-shaped story with a bit of mystery and much of my favorite (the list of 13) elements of romance.
I enjoyed the twist of having the male, rather than the female, lead being the strong(er) person of faith.
(Granted I’m not a voracious romance-reader, but I’ve only seen it a couple of times before. There are also Christian stories where both parties are believers, and I like those, fine, too.)
I always get cringe-y when (just) the woman endures through externally foolish roadblocks and converts/wins the desirable man in the end. Not the message I want any woman I value to take home.
In this case you have the man doing what he can, witnessing-wise, with an awkwardness than can either interrupt the story-dream as you read, or else be seen as an accurate reflection of the real-life awkwardness than can go with sharing your faith with someone you love.
It had predictable character types (orderly blustocking, carefree second son) that were not diminished by the predictable roles they filled. Relationships between women were neither all good nor all bad, and genuine friendships– of different sorts– were well-portrayed.
One of the things that troubles me in some of the novels I’ve attempted to read, is how the author seems to go out of his/her way to isolate the characters, or put them through hell. That can work, and it can look like trying too hard.
This was a refreshing example of healthy relationships not getting in the way of creating a good story.
I’m deciding that romances like these are my “cozies.”
A friend of mine once pointed out to me there are two different kinds (there may be more) of mysteries, and by extension books in general: cozies— that people read when they want to relax/center/calm down and — lacking a more precise word– thrillers, designed to excite/energize/key up a reader.
This was a helpful distinction for me, because it helps me when I am looking for a read to know what my purpose is. When I can nail down my purpose for reading (escape, emotional connection, stimulate the imagination, get energized, be affirmed in my perception of– or desire for– reality), I am more likely to be satisfied by my choice.
In this case I was very satisfied. The world created was genuine, motivations and goals were believable, and my connection to the characters drew me back to the story (so important in a long book) and let me disappear and recharge in the midst of a stressful time.
As a bonus, something (I will need to pay better attention in the future, so I can say exactly what and when) was toe-curlingly fun, and I laughed out-loud more than once.
Add to that I guessed wrong at least three times (even with the “predictable” types).
So after two solid wins, Julie Klassen is officially one of my go-to authors. And this is now a new experience for me– finding an author who a) already has a number of books I haven’t read (but now want to) and b) who is still writing the type of books that pleased me in the first place.