Lenore Fulcher wasn’t particularly looking for a suitor the day her father suggested she begin courting one of his business partners. But she does know that a friend of her father’s – especially one who is 17 years older than she – is not exactly what she desires in a mate. Fortunately Lenore meets Kolbein before her father can pledge her to another.
Kolbein Booth was definitely not looking for a bride when he arrived on the West Coast. After learning that his sister, who had run from their home in Chicago, might have come to Seattle to the Madison Bridal School, he is determined to find her. What awaits Kolbein at that school is not his sister but Lenore Fulcher, and for some reason he is completely captivated by her.
As Kolbein searches for his sister with the help of Lenore’s friends, he realizes that he does not want to leave Lenore and the city of Seattle to go back to Chicago. Will his sister be found safe and sound, and is Lenore the one who God has put in his life to be his bride?
Steadfast Heart is book one in the “Brides of Seattle” series by Tracie Peterson.
I wrote an article for Straight off the Page last month about How I Fell in Love with Historical Romance. In it I declared that the first author who caused me to fall in love with the genre was Janette Oke. While this is true, one of the authors who helped this love for Christian historical romance blossom was definitely Tracie Peterson.
Because of this I kind of have a soft spot for her and authors like her, and I tend to be a little more accepting of the genre pet peeves that sometimes come up in their novels (the Big Misunderstanding, love-at-first-sight, and the like). Their novels are “comfort food” for me, and I can overlook some things more easily.
Unfortunately I cannot do that with Steadfast Heart. The novel got off to a rocky start with the story being told from no fewer than five points of view within the first few chapters. This way of telling the story introduced the characters well, I guess, but it made the book very hard to get into. Plus, Lenore (the main female character from the back of the book) goes off to San Francisco very early on in the book and doesn’t return until almost the halfway point. This leaves the story to be told mostly through Abrianna, Lenore’s very high-strung, albeit well-meaning, best friend.
I actually think that Abrianna is more of the main character in this story instead of Lenore. It was fairly confusing to have so much of the story told through Abrianna’s eyes when I kept thinking that Lenore was the main character. I even had a hard time writing the summary above for this book since Lenore and Kolbein seem to barely be in it! What’s worse is that Abrianna, to me, was such an annoying character. I found myself skimming her ramblings, and I kept wanting Marilla Cuthbert to come along and say, “Abrianna! Hold your tongue!” Unfortunately Abrianna was not anywhere close to being as endearing as Anne Shirley, despite the surface similarities.
Despite these awkward occurrences, there were a few things about the novel that I liked. The concept of the Bridal School was interesting, especially since it had a good reputation and wasn’t considered a place of “ill repute.” I also liked the character of Wade – a life-long friend of Abrianna’s – and I would even go so far as to say that he was my favorite character of the book. There were also some good spiritual aspects to the novel. I liked how Wade was able to reach out to Kolbein during his time of spiritual doubt. I thought this was a good example of how to be compassionate and how to be available to those who need a listening ear.
As for the romance between Kolbein and Lenore, I’ve already mentioned that they didn’t seem to be the focal point of the book. Their shallow whirlwind of a romance – with the love-at-first-sight and the never seeming to spend any time together – was the epitome of a pet peeve for this genre. However, since they didn’t quite seem to be the main characters, it didn’t bother me as much. They did seem to be right for each other, and at least they did freely admit that they hadn’t known each other long and that it seemed to be strange that they should fall so madly in love so quickly. As I said, I can overlook these sorts of tropes with my favorite authors more easily.
Ultimately I just found this novel to be all over the place. It’s like it couldn’t decide which story it wanted to tell – Lenore and Kolbein, Abrianna and Wade, the Bridal School, social disparity, discrimination towards the Chinese on the West Coast at this time, drug and human trafficking – and most of these stories were just touched upon and left to hang until (hopefully) the next book in the series. It’s not easy for me to say, but I almost feel as if this book wasn’t even written by Tracie Peterson. That’s how far out in left field it felt. It’s really hard to admit that you didn’t care for a novel from one of your favorite authors, and I hope this feeling of disjointedness doesn’t continue in the series.
Overall, Steadfast Heart was a nice diversion but was far from what this author has produced in the past.
Reluctantly (because this was one of my first favorite authors when I began reading Christian historical fiction), I will give Steadfast Heart ... 2 BookWorms.
by Tracie Peterson
"Brides of Seattle" #1
Bethany House Publishers
Publication date: January 6, 2015
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."