Heart of Gold by Robin Lee Hatcher was sent to me as an advanced review copy by Thomas Nelson Publishers.
Shannon Adair does not know what to think about the way her life has turned out. Raised in a comfortable Virginia home, she now finds herself accompanying her minister father to the gold rush town of Grand Coeur in Idaho Territory. To Shannon, everything in this small western town is uncivilized, including the people. But things were taking a turn for the worse for the Confederacy, and this is where her father feels led to be.
Matthew Dubois can’t imagine doing anything else with his life besides being a Wells Fargo driver. He feels the best place for him is out in the wide open spaces where he is not tied down. But when Matthew learns that his sister, Alice, is very ill, he invites her and her son, Todd, to live with him for a while until she recovers. What he doesn’t realize is that Alice is much sicker than he realized, and he feels unprepared to raise his nephew alone.
When Matthew meets Shannon, he thinks he has found the answer to his prayers– someone to help him with Todd. What he doesn’t expect is his growing affection for this Southern Belle. Shannon is determined to remain true to her Southern roots, and since Matthew doesn’t have any loyalty to the Confederacy, she is bothered to even be slightly attracted to him. When the reality of their situations comes to light, both Shannon and Matthew will have to grow in their faith before they can follow their hearts.
When I first began reading this novel, I was enjoying it, but I wasn’t quite sure if it was going to be exciting enough to capture my complete attention. While I thought the middle portion of the book was a little slow and most of the events were fairly predictable, the novel as a whole was satisfying. I actually think that it was mostly the author’s skillful writing that kept me engaged and interested in the story.
One thing I have especially noticed and appreciated in Robin Lee Hatcher’s novels is how the characters live their lives according to God’s Word. This is highlighted so well through Shannon, who, at the beginning of the book, chafes under her father’s admonition of using Scripture. But, by the end, she realizes the wisdom of listening to her father’s counsel from the Word.
Since I felt the story part of this novel was conventional, I was glad that I liked the characters. I enjoyed getting the viewpoints from Matthew’s sister, Alice, and Shannon’s father, Delaney, in addition to Shannon and Matthew’s points of view. Usually I don’t enjoy this because it is hard to keep up with who is ‘speaking,’ but in this novel it was nice to gain a little more perspective.
Shannon’s father was by far my favorite character in the book. He was so bold in his faith, especially during this time of Civil War, which was so difficult for ministers from the South. I liked how he kept his focus not on North or South, but on God.
As for the pace of the romance between Shannon and Matthew, it felt right, even though it happened very quickly (May – August). I think this is a credit to the author, since normally I would feel that this was too rushed.
Although there are some serious issues that are dealt with in this novel, I was glad for the fact that it wasn’t depressing – I didn’t feel as if I had been through the wringer after reading it. Maybe this is because overall it was just a pleasant read. Or maybe it was because the issues of death and prejudice were dealt with from a biblical perspective and with an attitude of hope. Whatever it was, Heart of Gold came across as an honest, enjoyable novel for one dealing with such weighty themes. Overall, it was engaging while also giving the reader some things to think about.
I will give Heart of Gold … 3 ½ BookWorms.
Disclosure of Material Connection: I received this book free from Thomas Nelson Publishers. I was not required to write a positive review. The opinions I have expressed are my own. I am disclosing this is accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s 16 CFR, Part 255: "Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising."