Saturday, February 20, 2016

Flirtation Walk

After the death of her con-man father, Lucinda Curtis finds herself attempting to gain respectability with her mother’s estranged family in West Point, New York.  At the nearby military academy, Seth Westcott is simultaneously trying to shed his sterling reputation in an attempt to earn a lowly calvary assignment out west to rescue his penniless sister.  Will either of them learn where true self-worth comes from, or that despite their complicated pasts, they make a perfect match?

With her typical giftedness in storytelling and character-development, Siri Mitchell captivates the reader in this entertaining and thought-provoking novel.  The setting of West Point academy and the neighboring town of Buttermilk Falls is interestingly packed with fun historical tidbits.  The antics of Seth’s academy friends who aid in his purposeful academic downfall were particularly entertaining.  

Again, in her usual fashion, Mitchell tells an engaging story while also delving into much deeper subjects.  What exactly makes someone “good” or respectable?  Is following the letter of the law always right or just?  Do we all present ourselves as more righteous than we actually are?  As Lucinda and Seth answer these questions for themselves, Mitchell treats her readers to a lovely love story along the way.  

For this reader, Flirtation Walk has easily become a new favorite from Mitchell, second only to She Walks in Beauty.  

I received this book for free from the publisher in exchange for an honest review. 

Wednesday, February 17, 2016

This is the Day

The following is the devotion I wrote and shared at Community Bible Study last week... enjoy!

When my boys were really little, I used to joke that I never actually had babies of my own-- all I did was make clones of my husband.  As infants and toddlers, even my in-laws agreed that the boys looked and acted just like R. and his twin brother.

As they've gotten older, and their personalities have become more established, though, it's become clear that J. is, in fact, a clone of his father, but G. is much more like me than I ever would have thought possible.

J. is the fun-loving, easy-going, joke-making, friendly, charming little brother-- so much like his daddy!  Let me tell you, that that slight bit of mischief, that little "twinkle" in my husband's eye that was oh, so attractive when we were 20, is much more frustrating to parent in a 4-year-old.  He's the kid that makes me fight to keep a straight face as I discipline him, all while I'm counting the seconds it'll take to make it to my closet where I can laugh my head off.

As entertaining and frustrating as it is to parent a 4-year-old version of my husband, it's sometimes heart-breaking to see the least favorite parts of my personality come out in G.

There are so many amazing things about that precious almost 6-year-old little boy.  He's a hard-worker, and he takes things very seriously.  He's determined, passionate, and very smart.  He's kind, empathetic, and sensitive.  But along with that hard-working determination, is a fair amount of stubbornness and perfectionism.  And because he expects so much out of himself, he expects a lot out of everyone else... and is therefore often disappointed.  He does not tolerate change or failure.

I know from painful experience that these personality traits-- be they strengths or weaknesses-- can very easily lead to dis-contentedness and anxiety.  I hate the thought that he's going to have to learn the hard way, just as I did, that it takes making a choice every day to find contentment.  It won't come naturally.

While studying about Christian living and leadership through Philemon, 1-3 John, Jude, and 1 Timothy, I've been struck over and over by the idea of leading by example.

When Hubby deploys (as he recently did... for the 10th time...), I usually try to find a scripture to "claim" while he's gone.  A verse to cling to and meditate on throughout the inevitable ups and downs of every deployment.  This time I really didn't find a verse until about a week into the deployment.

After a particularly frustrating Sunday morning 3 weeks ago-- in which neither of my children seemed capable of getting themselves dressed and buckled into their car seats with any speed or efficiency, the first song that played on the way to church was "This is the Day the Lord has Made."

This day.  This frustrating, exhausting day in which nothing seems to be going the way I'd like-- God made it.  And not only that, He has commanded me to rejoice and be glad in it.

So in the car... on the way to church... feeling convicted by the Donut Man, God called me to lead my son by example, and choose to rejoice in every type of day the Lord has made.

Friday, February 12, 2016

A Sweet Misfortune

Finding herself alone and homeless in a small western town, independent heroine Rachel Matthews stoops to working as a dancing girl at the local saloon in an attempt to earn money to re-purchase her family’s ranch.  When her brother in far-away California hears of her occupation, however, he sends his friend and local cattle baron John McIntyre to rescue her.  Sparks immediately fly between the two, but will John be able to let go of his pride and suspicions that Rachel did more than dance at the saloon?  Will Rachel ever forgive John for buying the failing ranch from her brother in the first place? 

With an entertaining cast of characters and an interesting backdrop, Maggie Brendan tells a story not only of love, but of forgiveness, humility, and grace.  While all romance novels tend to end somewhat predictably, this one lacked any suspense or adventure whatsoever.  Every conflict resolves itself within a chapter or two, and every character gets just about everything they want without much development.  It seems as if the events leading up to the start of the novel would have proven much more captivating: Rachel’s parents’ deaths, her brother’s departure to mine for gold, and her own decision to work at the saloon would have entertained much more than the given plot.  Even the story of John’s sister Lura’s fall from grace would have livened it up a bit.  As it is, not much happens.  That said, Rachel is spunky and likable, and John is adequately swoon-worthy, which leads to a satisfying— if predictable— conclusion.  

I received a copy of this book for free from the publisher in return for an honest review.