Seven years ago, orphaned and alone, Em finally arrived at a new home in Iowa after riding the orphan train. But secrets from her past haunt her, and her new life in the Western wilderness is a rough one. When her guardian is shot and killed, Em, now nineteen, finally has the chance to search for her long-lost sister, but she won’t be able to do it alone.
For Azure Springs Sheriff Caleb Reynolds, securing justice for the waifish and injured Em is just part of his job. He’s determined to solve every case put before him in order to impress his parents and make a name for himself. Caleb expects to succeed. What he doesn’t expect is the hold this strange young woman will have on his heart.
Debut author Rachel Fordham invites historical romance readers to the charming town of Azure Springs, Iowa, where the people care deeply for one another and, sometimes, even fall in love.
This book was so cute! Obviously, Fordham is a new author to me (this is her first book) and I will readily admit that for me most western romance novels with sheriffs and women in danger seem a bit cliché. My expectations are always low for these types of books because for some reason they seem all the same (trust me, I cut my Christian reading teeth on these kinds of book). However, this book reminded me that good storytelling is good storytelling no matter what trope you’re using.
What I liked
Em. It always helps if you like the heroine. Em is strong, kind, and thoughtful and even though she is in danger for a good portion of the book, she never does anything that makes her a silly heroine–in other words, she doesn’t try to defy good sense. She also has a fascinating back story that the author does a lovely job of unraveling very slowly, only giving you a piece here and a piece there.
Sheriff Caleb Reynolds. The thing I found most interesting about Caleb was also his back story and the reason as to why he became sheriff in the first place. I thought the author did a lovely job creating his character so that he was complex and not just a western caricature.
The romance. It was the best kind of romance based on friendship and the culmination of two people spending time with each other and getting to know one another. Also, it addressed, almost subtly, what romance truly is.
The suspense. There are (kind of) two different suspense elements here coming from the obvious villain and then coming from Em’s past. I thought both were handled well and in such a way that Em and the Sheriff shined.
Spiritually, most of the main characters are believers and spend time praying and seeking God.
What I didn’t like
There was nothing that stuck out! I think it comes down to what you expect.
Romantic scale: 7.5
Overall, a very cute, light and fluffy read…sort of. There are serious topics addressed here that the author touches upon, but there was always a very hopeful note there that left the reader feeling satisfied.