Monday, October 17, 2011

Belonging - Robin Lee Hatcher


Robin Lee Hatcher does it again with another fabulous novel in Belonging, book number one in her new "Where the Heart Lives" series.  When I was offered the chance to review this novel I jumped on it, as Robin Lee Hatcher is one of my favorite historical Christian fiction writers.  Her characters are charming and honest, drawing you into their stories as her gracefully written narrative transports you to another time and place.  In Belonging we are taken to 19th century Idaho on a journey filled with emotional and spiritual revelations that speak to God's promise to work all things together for his good purposes.

The story revolves around Felicia Kristofferson, a teacher looking for a fresh start in the dusty desert town of Frenchman's Bluff.  Orphaned as a child and separated from her brother and sister, Felicia has not had the influence of love and family in her life.  Still, her faith is sure, and she believes God has sent her to Idaho so that she may provide the children with a strong education.  Felicia just has to win over the widowed general store owner, Colin Murphy, who is certain she has come only to find a husband, not to be the teacher his daughter Charity so desperately needs.  As their relationship grows over a mutual concern for Charity, the merchant owner finds that he is the one who is falling for the teacher.

This is such a sweet book, I loved reading every word of it.  Belonging is a wholesome love story that speaks biblical truths and paints a bright hope and future for its characters.  The subtle layering of story lines keeps the plot moving along and provides some wonderfully surprising elements.  Robin Lee Hatcher creates the world of Frenchman's Bluff with charm and ingenuity.  From the school house to the townspeople, everything is written with an emotional validity that goes straight to the heart.  I especially enjoyed Felicia's back story of being separated from her siblings on the orphan train and look forward to exploring that connection in future novels from this series.  Hopefully book #2 will be arriving soon!

Disclosure of Material: I received a complimentary copy of this book from Zondervan. I was not required to write a positive review. The opinions I have expressed are my own.

Friday, October 14, 2011

The Irish Healer - Nancy Herriman


I have always wanted to visit Ireland.  Perhaps one day I will, but for now it is a place relegated to random daydreams and the occasional novel that transports me its green hillsides.  So, imagine my disappointment when The Irish Healer by Nancy Herriman does not happen to take place in Ireland at all!  Despite this unfortunate circumstance, The Irish Healer is a solid piece of historical fiction.  I never found myself at the edge of my seat, greedily turning pages so that I could discover how the story ends.  But instead read quite leisurely, enjoying the characters and the novel's conclusion.

Rachel Dunne's journey takes place in the dark and dirty streets of London.  After being wrongly accused of murder, Rachel flees her homeland and takes refuge with the friend of a distant relative.  The irony lies in the fact that by leaving her role as a healer in Ireland, Rachel runs straight into the arms of an English doctor desperately in need of an assistant during a cholera outbreak.  Both James and Rachel must let go of past hurts in order to discover the hope God has for their future.  Their love story unfolds despite social and racial barriers, broken families, death, sickness and bitterness.   

The Irish Healer is a testament to God's grace and the power of forgiveness.  I very much enjoyed Rachel Dunne.  She is a wonderfully smart character, displaying grace and maturity in extremely trying situations.  Her conversations with James often showcase a bit of her Irish spunk, which makes her even more delightful to read.  The story was at times predictable, and I personally could not get past the sickness and death that prevailed throughout the novel.  But the beauty of The Irish Healer is Rachel's ultimate realization that true healing comes from God.

Disclosure of Material: I received a complimentary copy of this book from Worthy Publishing. I was not required to write a positive review. The opinions I have expressed are my own.