Crockett Archer is on his way to a job opportunity, his first as a preacher. He’ll be orating, as will another candidate, but Crockett is confident of his chances. However, he never makes it to his job interview – the train gets held up by some surprisingly old bandits, are not looking for valuables, they are looking for the preacher. Crockett finds out to his astonishment that he has been kidnapped... as a birthday present!
Joanna Robbins, daughter of Silas Robbins, ranch owner (and some years previously, a train robber) is struggling spiritually. The area they live in lost their preacher some time ago and a replacement has never been found, meaning that many people in the area can’t go to church as the nearest one is too far away. She worries greatly for her father’s spiritual wellbeing – he has always been anti-church, deeming the clergy as hypocrites. Both Joanna and Silas are still mourning the loss of Martha, Silas’s wife and Joanna’s mother, who was a woman of deep faith. Martha always hoped that Silas would find his way back to God, and Joanna has now taken on this worrying, and doesn’t feel up to the task.
Joanna is horrified at what her father has done, although she appreciates that his motivation was her happiness. She confides her worries to Crockett and arranges for him to reach the next town, in order to try and save his job prospects, but the job has already been given to the other candidate, as the townsfolk took it as a sign from God when Crockett didn’t show up. Although disappointed, Crockett begins to wonder whether it was in fact a sign from God, that he should help Joanna try and bring her father closer to God, and provide spiritual guidance for the area.
This is the second story about the Archer brothers. I haven’t read the first, but I didn’t feel lost, I think it reads well as a stand-alone. Crockett and his brothers basically had to bring themselves up and as a result he is very resourceful and hardworking. Rather than being the type of preacher that Silas is used to, who says all the right things, but doesn’t follow his own teachings, Crockett genuinely believes in his message, and is admirably trying to live his life accordingly:
‘He might be preaching on Sundays, but the rest of the week he’d be living out the message on a more practical level.’
Joanna has a similar spiritual depth and works hard to live up to her Christian values, although she struggles with her self-esteem. She is a very good and lovable character, and you are completely in her corner from the very beginning.
This is a Christian romance, and while it isn’t so evident in other Karen Witemeyer books the Christian theme is very strong indeed within this story, due to its subject matter of trying to bring a man back to his faith. There are some dark moments within this book, and plenty of action. Luckily, I started reading it pretty early in the day, as I am not sure if I could have put the book down at some points until I was sure everything would turn out alright! I thoroughly enjoyed this book, and I would recommend it, as long as you don’t mind a strong Christian theme.