A teacher on the run. A bounty hunter in pursuit. Can two enemies learn to trust each other before they both lose what they hold most dear?
Stone Hammond is the best tracker in Texas. He never comes home empty-handed. So when a wealthy railroad investor hires him to find his abducted granddaughter, Stone eagerly accepts.
Charlotte Atherton, former headmistress of Sullivan's Academy for Exceptional Youths, will do anything to keep her charges safe, especially the orphaned girl entrusted to her care. Charlotte promised Lily's mother she'd keep the girl away from her unscrupulous grandfather, and nothing will stop Charlotte from fulfilling that pledge. Not even the handsome bounty hunter with surprisingly honest eyes who comes looking for them.
When Miss Atherton produces documentation that shows her to be Lily's legal guardian, Stone must reevaluate everything he's been led to believe. Is she villain or victim?
Then a new danger forces Charlotte to trust the man sent to destroy her. Stone vows to protect what he once sought to tear apart. Besides, he's ready to start a new pursuit: winning Charlotte's heart.
Books by Karen Witemeyer were some of the first ones I read when I started doing book reviews several years ago. Some of her novels I have thought were just OK, but there are a couple of hers that I would list among my favorite books that I have reviewed.
Fortunately, this latest novel can be counted as a favorite.
First of all, the setup for this book was one that I thought was very unique. A bounty hunter chasing a supposedly kidnapped girl and a guardian trying to protect that same girl from her disreputable grandfather – it made for a great stepping off point for the rest of the novel.
And what a multi-layered novel it was.
The complicated setup only led to an intriguing novel that had so many dimensions that I never once felt bored. There were just so many things that led to my overall enjoyment of this book. The talented children, the bounty hunter with a heart of gold, the uptight music teacher who was running from the emotional turmoil in her past, the suspense, the witty banter – all of it came together into a very well-written book that was extremely hard to put down.
One thing that has been lacking in recent novels I have read is the depth of the characters. This was definitely not lacking with A Worthy Pursuit. Charlotte and Stone and especially the children leapt off the page. They never once felt as if they were cookie-cutter characters, and their actions and dialogue seemed genuine. The plot of this novel really could have led to many Big Misunderstandings in order to keep the characters apart, but even though one time it got close, it never fully went that route. And for that I am very grateful!
I also appreciated the relationship between Charlotte and Stone. I knew where it would ultimately end up, but it was fun to see their journey. Even though the physical descriptions at times were a bit eye-rolling or unnecessary, their courtship still felt genuine, and I liked seeing how they fell in love.
The suspense throughout this novel was something else that kept things interesting. I like having another dimension to a romance besides the courtship, and this novel definitely had that. Poor Stone was beaten up and shot at so many times it became borderline unbelievable, but it still made for an interesting story.
One of my favorite aspects of the Charlotte character was her love of music. I so related to how she could just let go and lose herself in the music when she played the piano. I saw a quote years ago (attributed to a German opera house), and the last part said, “God gave us music that we might pray without words.” This came to mind at once when Charlotte played the piano in the book, and there are so many times when I feel the same way when I play.
If I had to pick something that could have been done a little bit better, it would be the spiritual aspect. The two main characters already had a relationship with God, and they did rely on Him and the Bible for guidance. It was very seamless in its presentation, which is something I appreciate, but I wish at times that it just went a bit deeper.
Something that I thought was really cute in this novel was how Stone, because of his career as a bounty hunter, ended up being portrayed in dime novels as a character. It was a neat way for Stone to relate to Lily as her protector, and I thought it was just flat-out funny at times. Stone’s friend and fellow dime novel character, Dan, was fun, too, and I would love to read a book about him in the future!
I truly feel that this novel was reminiscent of what I really liked about Karen Witemeyer’s books back in the beginning of her career. A Worthy Pursuit is definitely a favorite read of the year.
I will give A Worthy Pursuit ... 4 BookWorms.
Disclosure of Material Connection: I received this book free from Bethany House Publishing. 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."