Friday, December 21, 2012

"Every Perfect Gift" Review

When Sophie Robillard returns to Hickory Ridge, Tennessee, in 1886, she does not know what kind of reception to expect. She spent the last 15 years with Wyatt and Ada Caldwell on their ranch in Texas as well as learning the ropes of the newspaper business in Dallas. Sophie’s reason for returning to Hickory Ridge is to reopen the small town newspaper. While she realizes the task at hand will be difficult, she is even more concerned about the rejection she might face upon her return to the town that, because of her unknown background, shunned her as a child.

Ethan Heyward recently arrived in Hickory Ridge to oversee the building of a luxury resort, which is being financed by his long-time employer, millionaire Horace Blakely. When the local newspaper reporter interviews him about the resort, Ethan is immediately drawn to her. But Ethan holds secrets from his own past, and they may catch up with him sooner than he thinks.
Both Ethan and Sophie have spent years guarding their hearts and their secrets. Will they have the courage to overcome their pasts and recognize the gift God has given them for their futures?

After finishing the previous book in the Hickory Ridge series, Beauty for Ashes, I was looking forward to reading this next offering. There were a few things left hanging in the previous book that left me wanting to continue with the story of this small Tennessee town.
As I have said in my previous reviews of the books in this series, I grew up in a small town in Tennessee that would be in the same area as what is described in this book. The setting and the scenery and the people came alive for me and were endearing.

Even though I loved the small town setting and people of this book, there are a lot of minor characters to keep straight. You definitely need to read these books in order. Even though I did, I found myself being confused by who was who and what their stories were several times throughout this book. It has been a year and a half since I read the first book which introduced Sophie and her story, so I sometimes struggled to remember previous events that were brought up again in this novel. I think I mentioned this in a previous review, but it would have been nice to have a character list in the front of this one in order to keep everyone straight. (I am assuming the finished publication did not have this – I had an advance copy, so I don’t know what the final product will look like).
Once I got reacquainted with Sophie, I enjoyed her story in this novel. The issues she faced as a child were heartbreaking, and her continued dealings with these prejudices as an adult were equally tragic. While I was not able to completely relate to her sufferings, I still felt for her and was encouraged by her continued growth and reliance on God throughout the novel.

I also liked the character of Ethan, but I didn’t feel as if I got to know him as well. Part of this was probably due to the fact that Sophie’s character had been in the other books. However, I think the other reason was that the reader was not clued into Ethan’s past early on in this book. Bits and pieces were revealed here and there, but since I didn’t understand where he was coming from until it was explained towards the end, then I didn’t feel as much of a connection to him. I did like Sophie and Ethan together, though, and Ethan’s story was interesting once it got going.
I enjoyed the relationship between Sophie and Ethan, but in some ways I enjoyed one of the side stories even more. There is a secondary character, Sabrina Gilman, a nurse, who spends her time lobbying for a small clinic to be started in the town so that she and the town’s doctor will have more opportunities to treat patients. Since I have a science background, this story intrigued me almost more than Sophie’s newspaper story. It is not that the newspaper story or the relationship between Sophie and Ethan was not interesting; I just liked the medical side of Sabrina’s story a bit better.

Although I liked this book (as well as the others in the series), and I liked the ending, to me it still seemed as if there were a couple of things that needed to be wrapped up. I don’t always like epilogues in novels, but I thought this book would have benefitted from one. I don’t want to say too much here, but it would have been nice to know what might have happened in some of the characters’ lives in the future.
Overall, I really enjoyed this Hickory Ridge series. Although I think the second novel in the series was my favorite, Every Perfect Gift was a nice read with a great message of embracing the wonderful gifts God gives to everyone who trusts in Him.

I will give Every Perfect Gift … 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."

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