Saturday, August 18, 2012

Beauty for Ashes

Beauty for Ashes by Dorothy Love
4/5 stars
Thomas Nelson, 2012
325 pages
Christian Historical Romance

Source: Received an ARC through the Amazon Vine program in exchange for an honest review.

Last year I read Beyond All Measure and enjoyed how faith was incorporated into the book while also mostly liking the historical setting of just post-Civil War. So I eagerly snapped up this next book, a companion novel set in the same small town but focusing on different characters. I feel like it could be read as a standalone but since I've read the first book, I'm not the best source.

It has been four more years, long and lonely ones for the widow Carrie Daly whose elder brother has recently decided to take a wife, the insufferable Mary, mother to two rambunctious boys. After repeated instances of disrespect, Carrie is fed up and leaves, attempting to make her own way in the struggling town of Hickory Ridge. Meanwhile she attempts to fight her feelings for charming Griff Rutledge, master horseman who has no intentions of settling down. Can these two people follow God's plan for their lives and find their way to each other?

This book actually follows a lot of physical movement on the part of Carrie in addition to her emotional changes. First she lives with her brother, then she moves out and ekes out a living through several odd jobs in town before returning to live with her new family. It is a hard life that is described, not just because of the historical time period, rural setting, and Depression-era economy. I felt so overwhelmingly grateful for my life after reading this. All the work that Carrie must do just to ensure that everyone has the basic necessities while their meager Christmas celebration especially brought home just how fortunate I am.

A large element of this book is the romance but there are many sections of the book where all Carrie and Griff do is stare after the other. I enjoyed the scenes when they were together as Griff has charm to spare and I was heavily invested in Carrie's well-being, which would be improved by a relationship with Griff. It just took a really long time for that to be the centerpiece. I think part of that is because both Carrie and Griff need to have their character changed in some ways before they are ready for each other. But it left me a bit disappointed.

Overall: Some beautiful lessons in faith but there are definitely some slow moments that may frustrate other readers.

Cover: I love the green dress, the hat, and the horse, the latter two which are plot elements of the book. I don't remember the green dress featuring but it doesn't really matter.

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