THE HOPE OF AZURE SPRINGS by Rachel Fordham, review by Trixi Oberembt
The setting is Azure Springs, Iowa circa 1881. The circumstance is an injured young woman named Em with an unknown background. She’s taken in by the kindhearted Howell family and under the protection of Caleb Reynolds, town sheriff. Learning of bandits who killed and robbed her guardian, he vows to bring them to justice while making sure she’s in safe hands. What he didn’t count on was the more time he spent with Em, the more his heart becomes entangled with hers. Perhaps God brought these two together for love and healing!
My heart ached learning all the things Em’s been through in her young life. Losing both parents when a fever raged through her hometown and her sister when they were separated on the Orphan train. Then to top it off, she was attacked by three men who left her for dead and killed George, her guardian. She’s shown the kindness of strangers when the Howell’s take her in to recover. That’s one family I wished was my own! The two youngest sisters Milly and Mae bring her much happiness and helps fill the ache inside her for her own sister. These two are bright sunshine in a world of darkness; their laughter and fun will have them wrapped around your finger! The whole town takes her under their wings and shows her love and kindness, something she hasn’t felt for a long time since losing her parents as a child. Caleb was a hero in every form you’d imagine. He not only looked out for Em’s safety but befriended her without judgment. He’s kindhearted, a good listener and brings humor and laughter to Em’s world. Mae and Milly even call him the prince of Azure Springs! He’s the epitome of every woman’s dream.
I have to be honest and fair in my review, so here are a few things I didn’t care for: Em struggles throughout the book with feeling insecure. She was surrounded by people who showed her kindness and tried to help her see the potential she had inside of her. Understandably she has been through the wringer in life, but I really wanted to see more character growth. That’s an important aspect in a story for me, seeing the character growth as it helps me see areas in my life that I can work on too. Eliza, for instance, had character growth; she wasn’t the same person at the end of the book as she was in the beginning. Secondly, this being labeled as Christian or inspirational fiction, I didn’t see a lot of aspects you’d come to expect from a Christian fiction book. There was very little mention of God or how the characters relied on Him throughout the story. It’s a reason I stick with this genre because I need to see faith play a role in a book. I had a hard time really connecting with the story as good as it was; I really wanted to like it more than I did!
BACK COVER BLURB:
Seven years ago, orphaned and alone, Em finally arrived at a new home in Iowa after riding the orphan train. But secrets from her past haunt her, and her new life in the Western wilderness is a rough one. When her guardian is shot and killed, Em, now nineteen, finally has the chance to search for her long-lost sister, but she won't be able to do it alone.
For Azure Springs Sheriff Caleb Reynolds, securing justice for the waifish and injured Em is just part of his job. He's determined to solve every case put before him in order to impress his parents and make a name for himself. Caleb expects to succeed. What he doesn't expect is the hold this strange young woman will have on his heart.
Debut author Rachel Fordham invites historical romance readers to the charming town of Azure Springs, Iowa, where the people care deeply for one another and, sometimes, even fall in love.
*I received this story from the publisher with no obligation for a positive review. This review is my honest opinion.
Available in paperback, digital ebook, hardover and audiobook
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