I think I related more to the heroine in Beauty for Ashes than I did the heroine in Beyond All Measure (Dorothy's debut novel). I've been in that place before where if something could go wrong, it did go wrong, and like Carrie, I've hoped that I could run away from those problems so someone else could sort them out. Unfortunately, life has other ideas, both in the real and fictitious worlds, and Carrie's world was pretty much turned upside down more than once. It was a cross between heartbreak and frustration as I read about her relationships with Nate and Mary, but those feeling were soon replaced with admiration because of her strength of character. No matter what, she wasn't going to quit. No matter what, her irritation at the lot she'd been given in life was not going to overwhelm her. She was going to make it through this storm God had sent her through (first the loss of a husband, then being the third wheel in her brother's new marriage), and come out stronger on the other side.
Griff's character was a good addition to the story, but I didn't connect with him as much as I would've liked. It always seemed like he was hiding something, even until the very end. Most likely, it was the drifter in him that made me wary. However, I did enjoy the portions where he worked as a horse trainer, and the references to the newly-created Kentucky Derby.
When I connect with books on a personal level, it's always easy to recommend them. It's extra-easy in this case because this book is a winner. :o) I can't wait to journey back to Hickory Ridge one final time when Dorothy's final book in this series, Every Perfect Gift, releases later this year.
Southern? Absolutely. :o)
Summary of Beauty for Ashes:
She’s a beautiful young widow. He’s a Southern gentleman with a thirst for adventure. Both need a place to call home.
After losing her husband in the Civil War, Carrie Daly is scared she will never have the family she longs for. Eligible bachelors are scarce in Hickory Ridge, Tennessee, but Carrie has found love. Not the weak-in-the-knees kind, but something practical. Still, she isn't quite ready to set a wedding date with Nate Chastain.
Griff Rutledge is a former member of Charleston society, but has been estranged from his family for years. He’s determined to remain unattached, never settling in one place for too long. But when asked to train a Thoroughbred for an upcoming race in Hickory Ridge, he decides to stay awhile.
Despite objections from the townsfolk, and her fear that true happiness has eluded her, Carrie is drawn to Griff's kindness and charm. It will take a leap of faith for them to open their hearts and claim God's promise to give beauty for ashes.
**Many thanks to Litfuse Publicity and Thomas Nelson for providing a copy for review.