Friday, May 20, 2011

Book Review: A Hopeful Heart by Kim Vogel Sawyer/4 Stars

About the book:

Dowryless and desperate, Tressa Neill applies to the inaugural class of Wyatt Herdsman School in Barnett, Kansas, in 1888. The school's one-of-a-kind program teaches young women from the East the skills needed to become a rancher--or the wife of one. Shy and small for her twenty-two years, Tressa is convinced she'll never have what it takes to survive Hattie Wyatt's hands-on instruction in skills such as milking a cow, branding a calf, riding a horse, and cooking up a mess of grub for hungry ranch hands. But what other options does she have?

Abel Samms wants nothing to do with the group of potential brides his neighbor brought to town. He was smitten with an eastern girl once--and he got his heart broken. But there's something about quiet Tressa and her bumbling ways that makes him take notice. When Tressa's life is endangered, will Abel risk his own life--and his heart--to help this eastern girl?

My thoughts:

Ever since I read Courting Miss Amsel by Kim Vogel Sawyer earlier this year, I have been itching to go back and read some of her earlier novels.  I fell in love with her simple, yet emotional, style of writing, and knew that I had found a new favorite author.  A Hopeful Heart was another very good story!  Not quite as good as my first experience with Courting Miss Amsel, but still, very good nonetheless. 

I honestly had a tough time getting started with this one.  I've read one other "mail-order bride" story where there were several women (16, to be exact) that traveled together to the same town to be matched up to eligible bachelors, and frankly, it was not an enjoyable read.  So, my expectations were somewhat crushed from the beginning that I would be in for a similar story where 6 women traveled together to Kansas.  But I continued on, and was pleasantly surprised how much I started to like it. 

Tressa was the sweetest character.  Her demeanor was a little all over the place because she was trying so hard to fit in, and not let people in on the secret that she was really a refined young lady.  So, there were times when she was very timid, and other times when her fancy vocabulary would stun folks into silence (loved those parts the most, I must say).

I wasn't particularly crazy about the early development of Tressa and Abel's relationship.  It seemed to lack genuiness, as well as too much matchmaking on the part of Aunt Hattie.  BUT...everything slowly, but surely, started to come together by the end, and I was itching to see their relationship blossom.

Even though it had a slow beginning, I still really enjoyed this book.  I've read countless mail-order bride stories, and I've come to the conclusion that there needs to be something unique about it to set it apart from all the many others available.  This book had that unique quality in the form of a herdsman school (which I had never heard of before).  There was also a bit of mystery woven through the story which made it even more interesting.  I look forward to reading more of Kim's books in the future, and I happily give a rating of 4 Stars for A Hopeful Heart.

Southern?  No
Sass?  No

**Many thanks to Bethany House for providing a copy for review.

**Click here if you'd like to read my review of Courting Miss Amsel.

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