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