(Today is the third of three book reviews and giveaways I’m doing this week! Check out the first one here and the second one here. I’ve received these three books from publishers in exchange for my honest review. I have a copy of each to give away to one of my blog readers. Check out the review below, and then read the instructions for the giveaway that follow.)
Today I’m reviewing Love in the Balance by Regina Jennings. Love in the Balance is a Christian historical romance set in 1879 in Caldwell County, Texas.
Here’s the back cover copy to give you an overview of the plot:
Molly Lovelace dreams of a life without cares in Lockhart, Texas. She also dreams of handsome wrangler Bailey Garner, her ardent but inconsistent beau. The problem is, with Bailey’s poor prospects, she just can’t fit the two dreams together.
Then mysterious stranger Edward Pierrepont sweeps into town–and her life–and for the first time Molly wonders if she’s met the man who can give her everything. But he won’t be in Lockhart long and while it certainly seems like he talks about their glorious future together, she can’t quite get Bailey out of her mind.
What’s a girl to do with all these decisions when love is in the balance?
At first glance, this sounds like a common “girl caught between two loves” story. But the beauty of this book is that it turns out to be anything but common. I couldn’t put it down once I started – here’s why.
- The characters were extremely human. Jennings avoids character clichés by giving the reader a well-rounded picture of who the characters want to be, who God wants them to be, and who they actually are. Those pieces of our identity never completely come together in life, and Jennings stays true to that reality.
- There are a lot of plot twists. The risk of writing a book where a character is torn between two loves is that there is a level of predictability – she’ll end up with one or the other, right? But Love in the Balance avoids that predictability with interesting and realistic plot turns that leave you trying to figure out how Molly’s life can ever come together.
- I loved the historical setting. I can only imagine the meticulous research that went into writing a book with this level of historical detail embedded in the words used, the nature of the characters’ day-to-day lives, the descriptions of the towns, and the worldview of the society. Throughout the book, you are truly transported to another time and place.
- As I read the first half, I wished Jennings had included more of a view into the character’s spiritual lives. But as the second half unfolds, Jennings opens that window more and more in perfect timing with the characters’ spiritual development.
- I appreciated the complexity of the relationships portrayed and that Jennings didn’t try to “fix” them all. Aside from the obvious romantic relationships in the book, Molly has a difficult relationship with her parents, tenuous relationships with her co-workers and a somewhat cursory relationship with God. These relationships all bring another level of richness to the novel.
- Jennings is extremely clever with her words, never being superfluous yet consistently adding the touch of levity that literally kept me smiling throughout the book.
I absolutely recommend this novel to anyone who enjoys clean, romantic Christian fiction. It’s a story of mistakes, forgiveness and redemption that will both challenge you and warm your heart.
If you want to learn more about this book, or order it for yourself, check it out here on Amazon (non-affiliate link).
I have one copy of this book to give away! To be entered into my random drawing, please do the following:
1) Sign up to receive my blog posts via email (there’s a subscription box right under this post). If you’re already a subscriber, you don’t need to do anything on this one. (If you’re a Facebook fan, that’s great! But most people don’t see every blog post announcement on Facebook because it depends when you’re on and how many other things are in your news feed that day. That’s why I want to encourage blog fans to sign up via email! That way you’ll always know when a new post is up.)
2) Enter a comment below and let me know of a topic you’d like to see me write about on this blog. If you did so already in one of the other two giveaways, either add another topic you’d like to see or tell me the types of posts you most enjoy that you have found here.
To enter, do the above two things by 6 p.m. Friday, March 22. I will do a random drawing of entrants that night. Good luck!