RITA Reader Challenge Review

RITA Reader Challenge: Defending Truth by Shannon McNear

B+

Title: Defending Truth
Author: Shannon McNear
Publication Info: Barbour Publishing September 2013
ISBN: 978-1624161902
Genre: Inspirational

Book A Pioneer Christmas Collection This RITA® Reader Challenge 2014 review was written by Rebecca J. This story was nominated for the RITA® in the Romance Novella category.

The summary:

“Defending Truth” is a novella in The Pioneer Christmas Collection.

The wild and untamed lands of America called to the brave and determined pioneers who desired a new way of life. Faced with primitive lodgings–a cave, a dugout, a sod house, a barn–settlers face their first Christmas in a new land with both trepidation and hope. From the mountains of North Carolina to the woods of Michigan, across the plains of Oklahoma and deserts of Arizona, these settlers soon learned that wherever the heart dwells, Christmas and romance can find a place to call home.

In this exclusive collection of nine Christmas romances, readers will relive a pioneer Christmas with all its challenges and delights as penned by some of Christian fiction's beloved authors, including bestselling authors Margaret Brownley and Lauraine Snelling.

1781 North Carolina – Defending Truth by Shannon McNear
1820 Ohio – The Calling by Kathleen Fuller
1830 Michigan Territory – A Silent Night by Anna Urquhart
1862 Nebraska Territory – A Pony Express Christmas by Margaret Brownley
1867 Arizona Territory – A Christmas Castle by Cynthia Hickey
1875 Dakota Territory – The Cowboy's Angel by Lauraine Snelling
1885 Dakota Territory – A Badlands Christmas by Marcia Gruver
1889 Oklahoma Territory – Buckskin Bride by Vickie McDonough
1897 Alaska – The Gold Rush Christmas by Michelle Ule

Filled with inspiration and faith, each story will become a treasure to be enjoyed again each holiday season.

And here is Rebecca's review:

The basic story is that Truth Bledsoe is taking care of her younger brother and sisters while their father fights for the American side in the American Revolution. Micah (Will) is from North Carolina and fighting for the Loyalist side. After he surrenders, he is badly treated and runs away from his captors into the mountains.

I enjoyed the story. I liked both the hero and heroine. They were both kind, solid people. The sensuality level was low, limited to kisses. On reflection, I’m not sure how much falling in love we see. It’s more a story of good people finding a way in tough times to support each other. But that makes it sound preachy and it wasn’t.

The religiousness seemed historically accurate for the frontier in colonial times. When in danger Truth was more likely to rely on her skills with a gun than on her prayers. But when facing a tough decision she did use her faith to help her see her way. I like that the heroine is sensible and able to hunt to provide for her family on the frontier.

The snap of a twig, when it came, drew her almost straight up, gun to her shoulder.

“Don’t shoot!” came a sharp cry.

Sighted there at the end of her rifle was a man – young, unkempt, hollow cheeked. Not one she recognized from the near settlements.

“Please. For the love of God, don’t shoot.”

She did not move or lower the rifle. She’d take no chances. “Who are you?”

“No one of consequence.”

“So, there’s no one to miss you if I shoot.”

“I didn’t say that!”

A wry smile tugged the corner of her mouth. “Tell me, then, why I should not shoot you. Besides the love of God, of course.” Not a small reason, that.

There are good descriptions of the area without overwhelming the reader.

Truth Bledsoe took a better grip of her grandfather’s long rifle and peered through the cold fog of the western North Carolina morning. The narrow path up the mountain lay beneath a carpet of reds and golds, slick with rain. All but a few yards ahead faded into the mist. The forest was still except for the occasional drip of moisture and crack of branch.

We also see glimpses of what the hero suffered in battle and its aftermath.

How much could he trust her? Colonels Shelby and Sevier had at least tried to be fair after the battle, but he’d had a taste of the legendary savagery of the over-the-mountain men. Worse than Indians, it was said.

Whether that was so, he could not say, but his body still carried the aches and bruises of their smoldering fury.

Some people might have issues with the way the Cherokee are depicted. They aren’t painted with a bad brush or shown as “noble savages” either.  Rather, they are another danger in life on the frontier. But they are only briefly mentioned and sort of one dimensional which may be an issue for some.

“They say the British set the Cherokee against us because the Crown doesn’t recognize our right to settle here.”

“And why did you settle here?”

Truth shrugged. “Same as anyone, I reckon. The chance to make a life for ourselves, to work the land and raise a family.” They were words Papa had spoken often, but they came alive for her now. “Papa and the others bought the land fairly from the Cherokee. Trouble is, some of their people don’t recognize that either, but we came here by God’s grace, and by His grace we’ll remain.”

Overall I enjoyed her debut. I would give it a B+.


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Comments are Closed

  1. 1
    Shannon McNear says:

    Thank you for taking the time to read my story, and for such a kind review! It’s true, the Cherokee are rather one dimensional but I didn’t really have the scope within a novella to delve into all the issues surrounding the conflict between them and the settlers. But it’s nice to see I succeeded in my attempt to portray that conflict as a fact of frontier life, to show the time as it might have been seen through the characters’ eyes. :)

  2. 2
    Rebecca (another one) says:

    @ Shannon

    I’m glad you liked my review.

    You did a really good job of portraying how people would have felt back then.

    So often modern sensibilities are put into historical character’s heads, and that doesn’t work for me. If I want to visit another time or place, don’t try to change them to fit what you think my modern American self would approve of. I would rather understand the characters’ beliefs than have a character that thinks all the same things I do.

    That is all a long winded way of saying I think you did a good job of capturing what life on the American Frontier was like.

  3. 3
    Shannon McNear says:

    Well, thank you!! :-) I don’t think I could get a better compliment than that.

    I’ll have another novella out next May, titled The Highwayman … not as serious as Defending Truth, but also a colonial. It’s part of The Most Eligible Bachelor Collection and has been a lot of fun to write.

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