Thursday, June 24, 2010

‘A Love of Her Own’ by Maggie Brendan – Book Review

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One of the genres that I have come to really enjoy is historical fiction. The latest book of that ilk that I have read is ‘A Love of Her Own’ by Maggie Brendan. Set in the 1896 in Montana, this novel tells the story of cowgirl April McBride.

Here is the synopsis of this book:

She has everything her heart desires … except the one thing money can’t buy.
Still cautious after a broken engagement, April McBride fully intends to guard her heart when she travels to Lewistown, Montana, to attend her brother’s wedding. One look around the small mining town convinces April that doing so won’t be difficult – just a bunch of dusty shops, bad service, and ill-bred cowboys. But a run-in with horse trainer Wes Owen opens up vast possibilities for frustration, embarrassment, friendship…and love?
Can April and Wes see past their differences to envision a future together? Or are they destined to live the rest of their lives alone?
Book three in the HEART OF THE WEST series, A Love of Her Own is an adventurous, spark-filled ride through love in turn-of-the-century Montana. 

Here is the biography of this author:

Maggie Brendan is a member of American Christian Writers and American Fiction Writers Association. She is the author of No Place for a Lady (Book 1 in the ‘Heart of the West’ series) and The Jewel of His Heart (Book 2 in the ‘Heart of the West’ series). A TV film version is currently in development of No Place for a Lady. Maggie is married and lives in Marietta, Georgia. She has two grown children and four grandchildren. When she’s not writing, she enjoys reading, singing, painting, scrapbooking, and being with her family. You can find Maggie on her blog. She is also a resident blogger on

April McBride went through a lot to get to her brother’s wedding in Lewistown, Montana. She took a train to Bozeman, and then had to take a stagecoach for the next 100 miles. All along the way, her petulant, selfish side showed itself, and it engendered a lot of bad feelings toward her. Her behavior made it very clear that she was a rich girl who had never been deprived of anything – except for perhaps kindness and humility! If I had been on the stagecoach, I think I would have slapped her! Then one of the stagecoach wheels broke, and she used her powers of persuasion to borrow out of the horses to continue on to Lewistown to make it to the wedding on time. She changed into jeans and a shirt, and tucked her hair under her cowboy hat.
On her way into town, she made the acquaintance of a horse trainer, Wes Owen, whose training techniques were not to her liking:

“If you are trying to break that horse, those tactics won’t work!” Wes heard a squeaky-pitched voice laden with anger say.
“Boy, I’ve been doing this most of my life, and I don’t believe I asked for your advice!” he yelled back. Snot-nosed kid sure has a lot of nerve. Must not be from around these parts, or he’d know better. (p. 42)

Thus began the relationship between April and one of her brother Josh’s best friends, Wes Owen!         
Here is one more example of her treatment of others, as she tried to check into the Stockton Hotel right just moments before her brother’s wedding, where she thought she had a reservation:

          “I’m sorry, but I see nothing on the books for your reservation.”
          “What? There must be some mistake.”
          “Afraid not, ma’am.”       
…”I see. Well…go ahead and make a reservation for me to stay about two weeks.”
“I’m afraid we have no vacant rooms tonight, but if you’ll check back tomorrow, we’ll probably have a room for you.”
“But I need one now!” April raised her voice and tapped the toe of her boot impatiently. “What’ll I do? I need to change clothes for my brother’s wedding reception that’s going on right now!” She felt like crying. Every problem seemed to be joined by another one. (pp. 46-47)

She had been through a lot; perhaps I should extend her some grace! But she was rude time and time again.

Her poor attitude and behavior followed her as she checked into Miss Margaret’s boarding house. Margaret realized she needed to add April to her prayer list:

One more name was added to her list, right under her two daughters. April McBride. This one is going to need some special prayers or my name is not Margaret! Spoiled little rich girl. So unlike her brother Josh. One would never have known that he was from a wealthy family in Colorado. He was so gracious and kind. So perfect for Juliana.
Well, one thing I know for sure, she won’t get her way around here. All the more reason to pray for April as long as she was in Montana. (p. 67)

Despite her condescending attitude toward others, she was so much different that she attracted attention – and admiration:

Margaret laid her journal aside and picked up her Bible. She started reading from Proverbs and then saw April bounce down the front porch and walk down the street in her yellow party gown with a determined look about her. Margaret couldn’t help but chuckle. (p. 67)         

By God’s grace, April decided to stay at Miss Margaret’s house instead of the Stockton Hotel (her preference, as there was hotel staff available to serve her) while Josh and Juliana were away for their honeymoon. Miss Margaret and her daughters Natalie and Louise were a wonderful influence in terms of a surrogate Godly family.

Josh had come into a relationship with Jesus himself. This new life changed the way he wanted to spend his time. However, there were temptations:

The more he thought about it, the more agitated he became. He needed a drink. He hadn’t been to the saloon since that night he’d been reading Scripture and wrestling with the Lord and he’d finally accepted His Word about who He was. If it hadn’t been for Josh, he never would’ve even picked up the Good Book. But just for tonight, maybe he’d drop over to the saloon and have a quick drink before hitting the trail. One more drink couldn’t hurt, could it? (pp. 136-137)

The more time that April spent in Margaret’s presence, the more she realized she needed to spend more time with the Lord and in His Word:

She kept thinking about what Miss Margaret said. What really matters to me? April wasn’t sure she even knew or had a purpose. She turned to Romans and started reading. After a while she landed on chapter 12, and when she got to verse 3, something about it spoke to her.
For I say, through the grace given unto me, to every man that is among you, not to think of himself more highly than he ought to think; but to think soberly, according a God hath dealt to every man the measure of faith.
April thought about that for a minute. Did that mean the only way she could really begin to understand herself was by learning who God is and what He could do in her life? She had to admit to herself she was not in the habit of putting anyone above herself on a regular basis. A lesson she realized now that she’d learned from her father. Though she loved him, April didn’t want to mirror his aloof attitude toward others. Could she change that habit?
          No, but I can, a gentle voice reminded her.
April’s heart thumped as she bowed her head. Where do I start, Lord? I’ve not taken time for You in a long while. Will You forgive me?  She paused, thinking, I’m a bit out of practice…and I guess that’s why I haven’t been very sensitive to others and say things without thinking how it might make them feel. You know I love my father, but there are things I see in Him that I don’t want to become. Help me to see others through Your eyes, Lord, and not mine. Change my heart and help me be a better person. Amen.
April lifted her head as tears wet her cheeks. She felt peace flood her heart and mind and knew she’d have no trouble sleeping tonight. (pp. 149-150)

That is a radical transformation – and a great prayer!

I had not read Books 1 or 2 of this series, but this book stands alone (other than curiosity over what happened to April besides the event that is mentioned in this book). I am glad that April finally realized the errors of her ways, and came back to the Lord. Her transformation into a loving person was made all the more powerful in comparison to her earlier behavior! And I was happy to see her happy ending!

I really loved this book. Maggie writes with a gentle style and with a lot of historical detail. Her characters are well developed, and she makes you grow to love them! I am sure that the other two books in the series are well worth reading as well.

You can order this book here.

Available June 2010 at your favorite bookseller from Revell, a division of Baker Publishing Group. This book was provided by Revell for review purposes.

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