Tuesday, June 11, 2013

"The Icecutter's Daughter" Review

Merrill Krause is loyal to the promise she made to her dying mother – to care for her father and four older brothers for as long as they need it. Caring for her family’s horses and assisting in the ice harvest each year has never been a burden to Merrill, even though her best friend insists that she will never have a home and family of her own if she doesn’t start acting more like a lady. Merrill does long for a husband and children, but her work and her protective older brothers never give her a chance to get to know any of the young men in the area.

When Rurik Jorgenson arrives in Waseca, Minnesota, to help his uncle in the furniture business, Merrill assumes he will be like every other man she has met. But Rurik doesn’t seem to be the least bit intimidated by Merrill’s brothers, and there is immediately a connection between the two of them. When things from Rurik’s past follow him to Minnesota, Merrill and Rurik become involved in a scandal that they never saw coming. They must rely on God more than they ever have before and learn to trust Him and each other before they can begin to have a promise of love.

Set in 1896 during a Minnesota winter, The Icecutter’s Daughter is a story of faith and trust in our God who has everything in His control.

When I first requested this book for review, I have to admit that I picked it only because I was very curious as to what an “Icecutter” was. I have read many Tracie Peterson books in the past, but the last few of hers that I have read have not really been my favorites. They were fine – just nothing that made them stand out from the pack.

The Icecutter’s Daughter, however, seemed to hearken back to the ‘olden days’ of when I first started really reading Christian fiction. Back then I enjoyed her stories because they always had so many dimensions to them, and this novel once again captured that extra something special that I remember from her earlier books.

My favorite part of this book was how well I related to the main character, Merrill. I have mentioned before that I’m not really a “girly girl.” I would much rather watch college football on a Saturday than go shopping, and I very much prefer a T-shirt and jeans and a baseball cap to pretty much everything else in my closet. Also, when I was growing up, I had a hard time understanding some of the other girls when they would become so obsessed with make-up and clothes and the latest rock star. In that same way, Merrill is like me in the story. She enjoys working with her brothers and father during the ice harvest, and she doesn’t always understand other women’s fascinations with lace and frills. She is independent and a hard worker and she doesn’t think she should have to change who she is for a man.

Once Rurik comes along and she realizes that he is attracted to her, it just felt very similar to the way it was with my husband and me. Rurik comes to care for her because of who she is, not because she acts as a woman is “supposed” to act. On the other hand, Merrill isn’t only good at farm chores and working with horses. She is a great cook and can paint beautiful pictures, too. She’s an all-around talented gal, and it was a nice balance for the character. Just because she was good at “man’s work” didn’t mean that she couldn’t still be feminine. Merrill’s character really resonated with me in this way.

I said that I initially picked up this book because of the occupation of the main character’s father, and I have to admit that the ice cutting was an interesting process. It was also interesting historically since by the turn of that century, electric ice machines were being produced that were slowly taking away the need for cutting ice from lakes.

Overall I thought the story moved at a very comfortable pace after it got started. About halfway through the book I was beginning to think that the main plot point (the romance between Merrill and Rurik) was going to be led along by the completely overused Big Misunderstanding and just-talk-to-each-other-already conflicts. But as I kept reading, I was pleasantly surprised. There were enough twists and turns and outside circumstances that gave the story much more dimension than I was expecting. The lies and false accusations that were part of the plot were at times frustrating but were also intriguing.

The romantic part of the book was pretty good, but there was a bit too much “love-at-first-sight” for my taste. The main characters didn’t interact much and yet fell in love very quickly in a matter of weeks. I did, however, like that the author was able to show that there was chemistry between Merrill and Rurik without going overboard with physical descriptions of passionate kisses and stolen glances and the like.

The spiritual aspect in this novel was well-balanced. Faith in Christ is clearly presented, and their faith blends in naturally throughout every aspect of their lives instead of being shallow.

The Icecutter’s Daughter is exactly the type of novel that first got me so interested in the Christian fiction genre, and it is an excellent beginning to the ”Land of Shining Water” series.

I will give The Icecutter’s Daughter … 4 BookWorms.

Disclosure of Material Connection: I received this book free from Bethany House 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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