Monday, April 13, 2009

In a Mother's Arms

Jillian Hart & Victoria Bylin
Inspirational Historical Romance
Steeple Hill Books - April, 2009

In a Mother’s Arms is two great reads for the price of one in a Mother’s Day anthology from Steeple Hill.

The first story is Jillian Hart’s Finally A Family. Her plot echoes familiar. The kids in the story, the hero’s twin daughters, rabble rouse for their widower dad to marry the heroine and give them a complete family. They want a real mom, not the housekeeper. The twins Hart draws are wildly assertive, often to an amusing fault. They refuse to take no for an answer and their continuing refusal fuels the story.

The twin’s dad is the local doctor. He doesn’t want a second wife because he’s been there, done that; and the hurt from her loss continues to haunt. Never again! Doctor Sam Frost no longer believes in romantic love. It could open the door to the possibility of yet another loss which would aggravate the pain with which he still deals.

Hart’s heroine, Mollie McKaslin, lost her husband and only child to scarlet fever. Self reliant and fighting the pain from her loss, she wants nothing to do with a relationship that isn’t based on true love. But she finds the obstreperous twins more than engaging, and their pet cow, who insists on going in the house, adds to the story a Disney-like charm.

The second novella is Victoria Bylin’s Home Again. So far she’s published six novels and three novellas, the most recent of which is this one. Six of her stories are under the Harlequin imprint with the other three Love Inspired Historicals. She’s under contract for four more which makes for job security as long as she keeps her Muse happy.

Victoria is leaning to the Love Inspired brand because she tells me, “it’s a better fit for her voice.” She has a heart for romance readers who may also be struggling with spiritual concerns. When she got serious about writing, she was drawn to westerns, not only because of the physical challenges of survival during the period, but because “church and Christianity were a vital part of the culture.”

Fourteen years ago, Cassiopeia O’Rourke left Gabe Wyatt at the altar without explanation. She wasn’t sure why herself, except that there had to be more to life than Guthry Corners, Colorado. Her father had given her her mother’s diary. Upon reading it she found that her mother hadn’t been satisfied with her life and always wished she had put off marriage and spread her wings. Cassie was afraid that would happen to her. She hightailed it to Chicago and gave life to a childhood dream of becoming an actress. After getting married, she also gave life to a kid. As so many before her, she soon discovers that life upon the wicked stage is nothing like a girl supposes. The man she had foolishly married in hopes of that career-making part turns out to be a liar, a drunk, and a wife beater. A trifecta of wedded bliss.

Surprisingly, she is saved by her dad’s death. He left her his mercantile store in Guthry Conners which gives Cassie an escape from her Chicago nightmare.

The once and only Gabe Wyatt is now the town deputy sheriff, and Cassiopeia’s 12-year-old boy, Luke, fast becomes the local hellion. Victoria’s story unfolds with Wyatt wishing that the burgeoning town hellion was actually his son. Gabe can see that Luke is having a tough time and needs a father and he wants to help him.

Psychologically, these two stories have similarities. In Finally a Family, Dr. Frost, now wants to protect himself and thinks that not having romantic love is a way to do that. Molly had had a loveless marriage and it hurt so much she wanted to make sure she was not caught in that predicament again.

In Home Again. Cassie had a terrible marriage in Chicago. She wanted to make sure that never happened again! Consequently she wasn’t that anxious to marry again. She was afraid to try. She too was protecting herself. Gabe was so broken hearted over Cassie leaving him at the alter that he didn’t even look for a wife. He just waited, hoping that she would come back. She did come back and he was still willing to wait, but he feared another heartbreak.

We, as humans, try to solve our problems but don’t always try in an effective way. Often the solution is actually simple, difficult for the people going through it to see, but easy for a good psychotherapist. Like any trained professional not directly involved in a situation, they can often recognize an easy solution. Thank God for good therapists. Thank God for romance novels, too, because they always deliver a happy ending.

No comments: