On his way to interview for a position at a church in the Piney Woods of Texas, Crockett Archer can scarcely believe it when he's forced off the train by a retired outlaw and presented to the man's daughter as the minister she requested for her birthday. Worried this unfortunate detour will ruin his chances of finally serving a congregation of his own, Crockett is determined to escape. But when he finally gets away, he's haunted by the memory of the young woman he left behind--a woman whose dreams now hinge on him.
For months, Joanna Robbins prayed for a preacher. A man to breathe life back into the abandoned church at the heart of her community. A man to assist her in fulfilling a promise to her dying mother. A man to help her discover answers to the questions that have been on her heart for so long. But just when it seems God has answered her prayers, it turns out the person is there against his will and has dreams of his own calling him elsewhere. Is there any way she can convince Crockett to stay in her little backwoods community? And does the attraction between them have any chance of blossoming when Joanna's outlaw father is dead set against his daughter courting a preacher?
Ah, the first words to come to mind once I was finished reading were cute and adorable! Because that's exactly what this couple is. Crockett and Joanna have wonderful chemistry and their story is so fun! :) First let's talk about the cover. I really love it! It's as delightful as the story itself, plus I adore that the dress the cover model is wearing is one that Joanna wears in the story. Such a great addition! So often book covers aren't as minute in detail as that. Joanna's red, curly hair is perfect also. Thus I had no problem picturing this girl as Joanna herself, I appreciate it when the covers match the stories so well!
As I said before, Crockett and Joanna most certainly have an attraction for each other, but I liked that they were careful and considerate in their relationship. It took a few weeks and really getting to know each other before they were sure of their feelings. And even then, Crockett moved slowly, caring about both of their reputations as was proper, especially in 1885. They are both just genuinely nice and caring people. Which was a big factor in the fact that I was so attached to them! I loved that while there were certainly conflicts that conspired to try and keep them apart, it was never either of them that was the cause. Once they had committed to one another, they were loyal and steadfast. I do think the fact that they were both fully committed christians prior to meeting helped their relationship also. There was no huge drama between them, they each knew the other was trustworthy. Plus I just really loved seeing them twitterpated and how adorably cute they were around one another. ;)
Another relationship I was fascinated with was between Joanna and her father. Silas was such an intriguing character! Having been an outlaw in his youth, missing his wife dearly every single day, loving his daughter so much, hating preachers fiercely, fighting God for all he was worth, he was full of contradictions. A great combo of hardened man outside and soft heart on the inside. I loved watching him try so hard to deny everything Joanna believed in, yet unable to deny her anything at the same time. They were so good for each other.
The plot, the conflicts, the romance, there's nothing really brand new or out-of-the-ordinary in this story. But that never bothered me. I will admit that the plot device used at the end isn't one of my favorites, but it served its purpose in furthering the story and forcing confrontations that needed to happen. So I was able to skip pretty quickly through that part and sigh over the couple anyway. ;) One thing I missed, as compared to other books by Ms. Witemeyer, was her humor. Oh I still laughed through several moments, but not like her other stories unfortunately. I did really like the minor characters that popped up now and again however, like Jackson and Miss Bessie. Especially Miss Bessie! Her spunk at the end was delightful.
So overall this is a very sweet romance and one I'm glad to have sitting on my shelf for future re-reading purposes! And the cover looks so nice there too. :)
"Crockett leaned forward, just enough to see out the opposite window. The fourth man had gathered the horses on the west side of the tracks and was pointing a rifle in the direction of the engine.
"Then what did you come for?" the man with the watch demanded. "Tell us so we can hand it over and be done with you and your gang."
The creases around the outlaw's eyes deepened as he scanned the coach for what he sought. When his gaze touched on Crockett, it hovered a moment before moving on. Crockett's mouth went dry.
The man's brows formed a V of displeasure as he concluded his search. A growl rumbled in his throat seconds before his intention exploded across the coach.
"I came for the preacher!"
* I received this book free from Bethany House in exchange for my honest review.