Thursday, March 15, 2012

Sixty Acres and a Bride (Book Review)

I know I don’t often review books on my blog. What? I never review books on my blog? Well, I’m about to. I am friends with many people on Facebook from high school and I try to keep up with the goings on in their little corners of the world but, as people tend to do, I get busy and I miss a lot. One day during my perusing I stumbled upon a wall post by Regina Jennings. I’ve known Regina since either 5th or 6th grade. I can’t remember which. A while though. Why do you care about Regina’s wall post? Because she announced to the world that she is….drum roll please…an AUTHOR!!! If you don’t read much then this is probably less than thrilling for you. If you read almost anything you can get your hands on as I do, this is uber-cool! Someone I know. Someone I went to school with. Someone whose dad went out of his way to scare the daylights out of us during slumber parties. Someone I could belt out Gilbert & Sullivan tunes with at the drop of a hat…are you getting the picture here? This someone wrote a book. And it was published! And it’s so so so so good!!!

Following is the synopsis as shown on the back cover:
“With nothing to their names, young widow Rosa Garner and her mother-in-law return to their Texas family ranch. Only now the county is demanding back taxes and the women have just three months to pay.

Though facing eviction, Rosa falls in love with the countryside and the wonderful extended family who want only her best. They welcome her vivacious spirit and try to help her navigate puzzling American customs. She can’t help but stand out, though, and her beauty captures attention. Where some offer help with dangerous strings attached, only one man seems honorable. But when Weston Garner, still grieving his own lost love, is unprepared to give his heart, Rosa must decide to what lengths she will go to save her future.”

You may think I’m gushing about this tome because I know Regina but you couldn’t be more wrong. Wronger? Just kidding, English teachers. First of all, I hadn’t actually seen/spoken with Regina in years. I moved away and I stink at communication. And, if anything, I was prepared to be more critical than I would of a stranger’s book. Why? Because you’re always more judgmental of those you know. Sad but true. I had gone, just a couple nights ago, to hear Regina give a talk about how to go about being published. I bought two copies of her book while I was there – one for me and one for mama. I also talked the entire time she tried to autograph them. There’s nothing like trying to write something poignant for a friend’s mother when said friend won’t be quiet. Sorry, Gina. I went straight home after and thought I’d read just a chapter or two. Ha!

I opened the book and thought, “Okay, here goes.” Have you ever read a book and not really ever been able to get in to it. You read all the words but that’s all you do. You don’t take them in and absorb them. I had no such problem with Sixty Acres and a Bride. I was instantly transported to Lockhart, Texas, August 1878 (after a brief prologue, that is). There was no time for critiquing. I was in the back of a wagon alongside a woman named Rosa and we were on our way to our new home. In no time at all I was welcomed in to the Garner family. They are all so nice. Unfortunately, no sooner had we gotten settled in then we had to start trying to save the ranch. Very stressful, to say the least. I also had a front row seat as two very different men tried to claim Rosa as their own. One for nefarious purposes and the other for love. No need to ask who I was rooting for.

My heart was with Rosa and Weston as soon as I read the back cover of the book but Regina made me love and hurt for (and wish many curses on) several other characters in the story. I loved being an observer, if only for a brief glimpse here and there, of the marriage between Eliza, Weston’s sister, and Jake. I also enjoyed the courtship of a certain other family member. I hurt, and was embarrassed for, Molly. I loathed and despised Mr. Tillerton and was ashamed of George. Every character lived and breathed at the tip of her pen, or the touch of her keyboard, as the case may be. Not one person was inconsequential. Some of them may have felt that way a time or two but no. And Regina, thank you for Rico and Willie. Everyone needs a champion or two like them in their life.

I stayed up too late the other night finishing up the last book of the Hunger Games trilogy and after reading them I desperately needed a balm for my wounded soul. I tried to think of some of my tried and true books but none seemed to fit the bill. I purchased Sixty Acres and a Bride that very next night and it was just what I needed. This is, by no means, a sugar-coated depiction of life in post Civil War Texas. It’s a story of struggle, heartbreak and love. It’s also a story about the power of prayer. This spoke to me directly as someone who always seems to be lacking in my communication with God. This will go on my “read again and again” shelf just as soon as I get my bookshelves finished.

I definitely recommend this for those of you who typically enjoy Christian Historical Romance (say that five times fast) but I also ask those of you who don’t to give Sixty Acres and a Bride a chance. It is very well written and obviously comes from the heart. Regina signed on to write three books and right now I’m wishing I was an editor at Bethany House so I could’ve already read the second installment. Any chance for a sneak preview? No? Okay then.

P.S. Regina, thank you also for making music yet another character in your story. It doesn’t surprise me at all that you used its presence to soothe and its absence to hurt. My heart broke just a little when it was temporarily silenced.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

I thoroughly agree with all you had to say about Regina's book. I instantly loved some characters and hated others--a true sign of good writing when you identify so easily with each one enough to feel strongly about them.