Wednesday, May 26, 2010

‘A Matter of Character’ by Robin Lee Hatcher – Book Review

Buzz this

One of the most popular and well-known authors in the Christian Fiction genre is Robin Lee Hatcher.  Her latest release is ‘A Matter of Character.’

Here is the book trailer for this entertaining novel, featuring Robin sharing the story:

Here is a synopsis of the book from the back cover:

          Who says a woman can't keep a secret? 
It’s 1918 and Daphne McKinley, heiress to a small fortune, has found contentment in the town of Bethlehem Spring, Idaho.  But Daphne has a secret.
A series of dime novels loosely based on local lore and featuring a nefarious villain known as Rawhide Rick has enjoyed modest popularity among readers.  Nobody in Bethlehem Springs knows the man behind the stories… except Daphne.
When newspaperman Joshua Crawford comes to town searching for the man who sullied the good name of his grandfather, Daphne finds herself at a crossroads, reassessing the power of her words, re-thinking how best to honor her gifts, and reconsidering what she wants out of life.

Here is the biography of the author:

Robin Lee Hatcher is the author of over sixty novels, including A Vote of Confidence, When Love Blooms, Wagered Heart, Return to Me, and Catching Katie, named one of the Best Books of 2004 by Library Journal.  Winner of the Christy Award for Excellence in Christian Fiction, two RITA Awards for Inspirational Romance, and the RWA Lifetime Achievement Award.  Robin lives in Idaho.

Daphne caught sight of a new man in town.  Here she describes him:

As Sara disappeared into the restaurant kitchen, the front door opened, letting in the cool night air along with a man Daphne had never seen before.  He was tall, t least six feet, perhaps a little more.  He had brown hair that was shaggy near his collar, and unless the poor light in the restaurant deceived her, there was the shadow of a beard under the skin of his jaw and upper lip. (p. 20)

Daphne learned the gentleman was Joshua Crawford, the new managing editor of the New Bethlehem Daily Herald newspaper.  Joshua relocated from St. Louis to meet D.B. Morgan, the author of a series of book which had a character named Richard Terrell, aka Rawhide Rick.  That was the real name of his grandfather (who had passed away 14 years prior to the events of this novel), and he disagreed with the characterization of the man he remembered as Godly and honorable.  Joshua wanted to confront Mr. Morgan, and force that author to set the report straight.

What Joshua did not consider that D.B. Morgan was a woman.  Daphne explained her rationale for keeping her real identity a secret:

The only way to make certain that the true identity of D.B. Morgan remained a secret was to be the only person who knew the truth.  Someday, perhaps, she would tell others.  But not yet.
She couldn’t imagine how Morgan [her brother] would react if he learned she’d authored a series of dime novels filled with buffalo, horses, trappers, cattle rustlers, mining disasters, wilds Indians, gunfighters, and a hanging judge.  But she was quite certain he wouldn’t think it a proper occupation for his sister.  She’d been groomed for a much different life.  There were certain things expected of a well-educated, unmarried young woman of large fortune.  Writing dime novels wasn’t among them.  (p. 29)

Intertwined throughout the novel are diary entries from Joshua’s grandfather, Mr. Terrell.  The entries tell of his transformation from a money-hungry man who would do whatever it took to make a fortune to a husband and father who loved Jesus.  In the entry dated September 1, 1904, Joshua granddad wrote directly to his grandson:

Put God first, Joshua, and He will guide your steps throughout your life.  Listen to His voice, heed His corrections, and you will avoid the many traps and snares of this world.  I hope reading this record of my past did not discourage you or make you feel less of me.  I hope you will see in it the power of the Almighty to change a life, to turn all things to good to them that love God, to them who are the called according to His purpose.
And now, may the Lord bless thee, and keep thee.  May the Lord make His face shine upon thee, and be gracious unto thee.  May He life up His countenance upon thee, and give thee peace.  Amen.
Until we meet again in Heaven, I remain
Your loving Grandfather  (p. 255)

Joshua questioned Daphne as to whether she knew D.B. Morgan.  She had denied any knowledge, and had this thought about it:

Joshua Crawford had come all this way because he felt his grandfather’s good name had been besmirched in the novels of D.B. Morgan.  Her novels.  She hadn’t actually lied when she said there was nothing she could tell him.  She wasn’t ready to reveal that she was D.B. Morgan.  Her work had been a secret from the start.  How could she tell him and not everyone else?  Or at least tell her family and close friends.  (p. 93)

Eventually, Daphne realized the right thing to do was to honestly admit to Joshua that she was indeed writing under the pseudonym of D.B. Morgan.  He had had issues with his temper, and she did express anger about her betrayal to her. 

Joshua discovered there were two brothers who knew his grandfather when he lived in the area many years before.  Despite his upset, Joshua allowed Daphne to accompany him to visit the brother in search of answers about his beloved grandfather.

On the way back to Bethlehem Springs, Daphne’s motor car broke down.  A snowstorm came in and stranded Daphne and Joshua in the middle of nowhere.  Fortunately, there was an uninhabited cabin where they were able to take refuge.  While there, Daphne became very ill.  Joshua helped nurse her back to health.  The initial spark which they both felt re-ignited.   

I truly enjoyed this entertaining novel!  The main character, Daphne, is engaging and quite likeable, and the other main characters are also quite interesting.  Robin writes characters that are multidimensional and interesting; you’d want to know them yourself! 

This is the final title in the ‘The Sisters of Bethlehem Springs’ series: the one two were ‘A Vote of Confidence’ and ‘Fit to be Tied.’  This book stands alone, but Robin’s writing is so engaging that I would like to go back and read those as well. This is the first Robin Lee Hatcher book I have read, and I have no doubt that it will not be my last! 

You can order this book here.

This book was provided by Zondervan for review purposes.  I am proud to be participating in the Blog Tour Spot blog tour with these other bloggers.

Have you read any books by Robin?  If so, which one is your favorite?  And what is it you liked about it? 

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