Tuesday, May 17, 2011

I Am Determined . . . or Am I? Finally A Bride by Vicki McDonough

Keep your eyes wide open for romance in Lookout, Texas. Noah Jeffers enters town determined to make up for past misdeeds. Reporter Jacqueline Davis is determined to nail her story. Will she uncover Noah’s secret before he can capture her heart? With nowhere else to go, ex-con Carly Payton returns to the Lookout boardinghouse. Garret Corbett is looking for an upstanding wife, not some jailbird. What will he do when overpowered by Carly’s unassuming appeal? Does love deserve a second look?

This is another book in the series by this author that deals with the little town of Lookout and its citizens and takes place about 10 years after the previous novel in this series. The kids who bedeviled each other are now grown up and looking to move on into adulthood--marriage, children, homes of their own. That is, with the exception of Jack--Jaqueline Davis, Rachel's daughter, who has determined that she will not ever be married. She is still deeply imprinted with her father's treatment of her and with his cruel abuse, that she has ceased to trust any man. She has made an exception with her stepfather Luke, the town marshall, but even that trust is tentative at best.

Her resolve not to marry is sorely tried when the new minister comes to town. Noah Jeffers is tall, handsome, muscular, and totally mouthwatering. He seems to look right through to her soul when their eyes meet--some kind of connection she can't explain. Little does she realize that Noah is really her old nemesis, Butch McNeil, the boy who made her life miserable ten years earlier. But Noah--and that is is real name--has changed, his relationship with God has made a difference in his attitude and his actions and his desire to be a different, good, kind, caring human being. Dare he reveal this to Jack, now a beautiful and desirable woman and a woman he had probably loved all his life?

This is an inspirational novel that is populated with people of the 19th century American scene, demonstrating that religion and faith held a high place in people's consciences and church-going was what good and decent people did. That they didn't always reflect the principles of Christian behavior is a given--after all, faith is about changing within, not about just an external make-over. There are some significant instances in the characters in this story, most of whom are carried over from the previous novels and who have now made some significant decisions about their lives. Carly Payton, a girl who was fronting as a mail-order bride and who was involved in her brothers criminal activity is now back after serving her prison sentence. And like so many ex-convicts, must bear the load of her past. Yet her new-found faith sustains her, even giving her the strength to accept that they may never be love or marriage or children in her future.

There is lots of family, community, faith, and loyalty in this novel and evidence that for these people, prayer and personal trust in God were the sustaining factors in their lives. It is a story designed to testify to that faith and to say otherwise would be misleading. Yet it is a very romantic story and examines the ways in which the decisions based on hurtful pasts can change when exposed to the healing power of love--God's love as well as the love of important people in those lives.

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