This RITA® Reader Challenge 2013 review was written by Silver James. This story was nominated for the RITA® in the Inspirational Romance category.
It's the turn of the twentieth century and drifter Hugh Brennan is a man well acquainted with betrayal. Hugh finds himself drawn to the attractive widow, Julia, yet when he looks into her eyes, he recognizes the same hurt that haunts him.
Julia Grace has little reason to trust men, but she's going to have to trust someone if she's to keep her ranch from the clutches of her dead husband's half-brother. Is it possible God had a hand in bringing Hugh to her door?
The latest historical romance from award-winning author Robin Lee Hatcher and the second book in the Where the Heart Lives series, Betrayal will take you to the high desert of western Wyoming, through the crags of the Rocky Mountains, and into the hearts of two seekers learning to trust God's love no matter the circumstances.
And here is Silver's review:
Yeah…about that blurb? Don’t judge the book by it.
I should add a caveat here. I read and write dark and sexy by preference. The F-word is a close friend of my vocabulary list and there’s not much that shocks me. So why am I reviewing a book nominated for the RITA® in the Inspirational category? Fair question. I’ve always read any book that tells a good story. I also judge a lot of contests—published and unpublished—and quite often end up with Inspirational because a lot of people who judge contests don’t like to read them. I judge a book by the story it tells, by the characters and their arc, and by the writer’s voice.
Remember what I said about the blurb? This book is so much more than that succinct and slightly misleading intro. Hugh is not a drifter per se. He is a man released from prison on his way to find his sisters to reconnect. He doesn’t have much beyond a horse that comes up lame—hence his arrival at the heroine’s ranch—and a well-read bible because he’s just discovered Jesus in the “born-again” sense. He’s a man who doesn’t trust well or easily, a man who has been betrayed. But he’s also a man trying to be better than his past, and a man who ultimately wants to be worthy of the love he might find with Julia.
At the age of seventeen, Julia married a man she didn’t know at the urging of her mother, who worked in a saloon. Married life turned out to be far more brutal than just the hard life on a Wyoming frontier ranch. Her husband beat her, isolated her, and after eleven years, had the good graces to die, leaving her widowed and struggling to keep the ranch she named Sage-hen so that she could finally control her life and destiny. Marriage? Been there, done that, didn’t want the teeshirt, thanks. But there’s just something about Hugh that disarms her natural inclinations to hold people at arm’s length.
Ms. Hatcher writes a gentle story. The violence is implied and hinted but never shared viscerally. She writes of two lost souls—Julia, the confirmed Christian since the age of ten who questions God’s will, and Hugh, the newly-minted Christian who accepts God’s promise and works to live up to it—who want to learn to trust again, and eventually do. Her characters, including the secondary ones, come across as real. Her dialogue sounds natural. Her prose is like riding at an easy canter over rolling hills.
This is a historical romance with an emphasis on scripture and belief in Christianity. To non-Inspirational readers, the frequent addition of religious content might put them off the story. That would be a shame. At its heart, this is a satisfying story of two lost souls learning to love and trust each other. There is tension and some suspense. There are doubts. But in the end, the characters achieve a very satisfying HEA and this reader had an enjoyable evening spent lost in a book.