Friday, January 30, 2015

Book Review: Steadfast Heart

Cover Art 
You know when you go to your favorite restaurant, and you know exactly what you're going to order? You get your taste buds all primed and you start looking forward to eating your favorite dish. Then the waiter says "Sorry, we're out." So, you order something else, but because you were looking forward to the dish they were out of, the alternate meal just wasn't as satisfying?

This is how I felt reading Tracie Peterson's new book, Steadfast Heart which takes place in 1880s Seattle. The official synopsis speaks of Lenore Fulcher, a young socialite whose father wants to marry her off to a man nearly 20 years her senior. But, when Chicago lawyer Kolbein Booth wanders into town, Lenore realizes she has feelings for him and must convince him to court her so she won't be subject to her father's arrangement. This was supposed to be the main point of the book. But, alas, Lenore and her courtship took up a small percentage of the novel, which was more about the differing social classes within the city than about the young woman's protest at arranged marriage.

Steadfast Heart, while an easy and entertaining read, was more like 3 books in one, and none of the substories wrapped up in a satisfying way. There were many loose ends. The main character was really not Lenore Fulcher, it was red-headed orphan Abrianna, whose adoptive aunts run the bridal school that Kolbein happened into while searching for his runaway sister. Abrianna has a heart for the poor, and wanders out among the hardest streets in town ministering to the homeless and bringing them food. I liked Abrianna's character; she was funny and intelligent and the author's writing style allowed me to feel like I was there with Abrianna as she wandered through the streets.

I was frustrated that there were so many loose ends. For example, a character was importing sex slaves from China, but there was no resolution or justice, and no hint that he would ever even be caught. I understand this is the first book in a series, but you can't just write about something that serious and have nothing resolve by the end of the book. At the end of Steadfast Heart, Abrianna is starting to hope for a man to love, but there was no hint to the connection I was expecting. She was just left hanging. Lenore and Kolbein's relationship also left me wanting. There was no real character development between them, and their story seemed like a bit of an afterthought. 

I liked the writing style and the ability Ms. Peterson has to relay a character's personality and deep character through his or her words, but I was distracted by what I was expecting the book to be about and what the book was actually about, and also wished for more resolution on some of the loose ends.

I received a free copy of this book from Bethany House Publishers in exchange for my honest review. All opinions are my own and have not been influenced in any way.

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