Monday, October 22, 2012

Book Review: Daughter of Joy

I was first introduced to Kathleen Morgan when I got her book Child of the Mist for free on Kindle.  (I noticed it's still free if you like Christian romance in the Scottish Highlands.)  I sort of liked that story (in an overall sort of way)  (Maybe I should explain.  I thought it was fluffy and the heroine wasn't particularly bright.  I mean, she was almost killed fifty times but still runs around getting herself into scrapes and needing to be rescued.  But, you know, it wasn't horrible and the story premise was pretty good) and so I got another of her books, Daughter of Joy (Brides of Culdee Creek Book 1).  This one definitely did not walk the fine balance between a Christian romance and an overbearing sermon disguised as a romance.

I was drawn to the description on the back copy of a woman who has lost her husband and young son and is searching for some direction in her life.  She ends up at Conor MacKay's doorstep to apply for the position of housekeeper, even though he has a bad reputation in town and a daughter who is a handful to say the least.

I really liked the hero, Conor, and while a bit predictable with starting out gruff and gradually softening, he had a lot of things thrown at him that he dealt with in a realistic way.  He got angry, was a bit forbidding in his ways, but he had a lot of heart and loyalty.

The heroine, Abby, started out as someone I liked, but she quickly became so preachy and know-it-all I started to dislike her intensely.  Every time something happened (and the author threw everything in there from long-lost wives, to hookers trying to get out of the business, to loveless marriages) Abby was preaching to anyone who would listen and it was unrealistic and over the top for me.  I really really wanted to like her again and I thought she had a lot of potential, but came to the end feeling like I'd read a lot of scripture in that "romance."

I also had a hard time with the author skipping several months of the story and just summing it up in a letter to the heroine's relative.  It seemed like lazy writing to me when I would have rather "seen" that for myself and really felt the story progress.

The best character in the book was the little girl, Beth, who has been through a lot in her life (her mother was Native American and not married to her father which caused a lot of prejudice and grief for her) and she really blossoms in the story.  The relationship between Conor and his little girl was sweet and quite well-done and easily the highlight of the entire book.

So, to sum up, the story premise was good, the first half was pretty good, but then it went downhill from there into a mess of preaching and scripture.  Not that I'm opposed to that in a Christian romance, mind you, but there was just way too much of it inserted into the story for my taste.  

Here is the back copy:

Love, heartbreak, and triumph lie deep within the wilds of the Colorado highlands. Abigail Stanton's whole life was rooted in her faith, a faith she now clings to for survival. After losing her husband and young son, Abby sets out alone, bereft, and heartsick. And when she is led to Conor MacKay's doorstep, the very foundation of her belief starts to shift. As the volatile rancher's new housekeeper, Abby is supposed to keep his affairs--and his capricious little girl--in order. Abby feels anything but order, though, when she and Conor are together. Can love heal the wounds of the past? Or will Abby and Conor risk even greater losses than they have already suffered? The first in the Brides of Culdee Creek series, Daughter of Joy takes you on a journey of grief, intrigue, and redeeming love in the nineteenth-century Colorado highlands.


Shanda said...

That wasn't one of my favorites either, however if I remember right the others did get a little better. My very favorite book of Kathleen Morgan's is Consuming Fire. I read it before realizing there was a first book, Embrace the Dawn. I haven't read them in years, but I do remember really liking Consuming Fire. Maybe those two might be more to your liking?

Julie Coulter Bellon said...

Thanks, Shanda, maybe I'll have to try those ones!

Melanie Goldmund said...

Julie, have you ever read the Samaria books by Sharon Shinn? They take place on another planet and feature both angels and humans. The angels have wings and can fly, and pray to their god Jovah for better weather, medications for the sick, and so on. There's always a romance between a human and an angel, but there's also something threatening going on in each book. There's talk of god and religion and stuff, but they're never preachy! Look them up in your local library -- I think you might just like them. :-)

Jon Spell said...

Word of advice, Julie: avoid the Left Behind books. Amazing premise, really super cool idea, but oh, the preaching. My sister, who is probably in the target demographic's bullseye, loved them. Couldn't get enough. (at 10+ books...)

Personally, I am ok with a spiritual theme or church settings and activities as long as it doesn't detract from the story.

For example, there was a book I read recently where a couple on the run has to hide out for the night in an old church. There's some soul searching due to the location, but no one had to reach out of the page and whack me with a ruler to convince me there was Christian thought here. (Instead, I reacted with, "They're making out in a church?!?") ;)

P.S. I read the Chronicles of Narnia when I was in the 6th grade and didn't see any of the Christian imagery that seems so very obvious now. I guess that's pretty well done.

Debra Allen Erfert said...

I'm not big on preachy books. If there is a spiritual message, then I think that's great, but not "over your head" preachy. Thanks for the review. (I just can't believe I missed Monday. Where was I?)