On his way to interview for a position at a church in the Piney Woods of Texas, Crockett Archer can scarcely believe it when he's forced off the train by a retired outlaw and presented to the man's daughter as the minister she requested for her birthday. Worried this unfortunate detour will ruin his chances of finally serving a congregation of his own, Crockett is determined to escape. But when he finally gets away, he's haunted by the memory of the young woman he left behind--a woman whose dreams now hinge on him.
For months, Joanna Robbins prayed for a preacher. A man to breathe life back into the abandoned church at the heart of her community. A man to assist her in fulfilling a promise to her dying mother. A man to help her discover answers to the questions that have been on her heart for so long. But just when it seems God has answered her prayers, it turns out the person is there against his will and has dreams of his own calling him elsewhere. Is there any way she can convince Crockett to stay in her little backwoods community? And does the attraction between them have any chance of blossoming when Joanna's outlaw father is dead set against his daughter courting a preacher?
-image and description from Goodreads.com
Stealing the Preacher was a sweet, romantic western romp full of lovable characters, melt-worthy romance, and just the right dash of bandits. The writing was neither overly poetic or dull--it drew you right into the characters' heads. I was delighted that one of the principal characters was a preacher, yet he was completely human--he was not full of holier-than-thou attitudes and his journey was a lot of fun to follow. As a fellow artist and very shy girl, I especially loved the character of Joanna. She was an awesome embodiment of quiet strength and the sort of person I strive to become.
Like its predecessor, Short Straw Bride, Stealing the Preacher has shown that the passion and love often attributed to secular unions definitely exists within the Christian marriage. Watching as Crockett and Joanna slowly fell in love had me cheering them on as they grew closer, attracted not just to the other's outward appearance, but the inward beauty they both shared. This was a meeting of kindred spirits, much like Gilbert and Anne from the beloved Anne of Green Gables series, which also sports a vivacious redhead. I loved how Crockett and Joanna teased each other and I could believe their romance, which made this book a positive delight.
Two criticisms, however: Crockett may have been a tad too perfect: the Christian woman's wish-fulfillment, you might say. I wish he had had a few more faults, instead of always knowing what to say or do, or being really, really handsome in the eyes of all the females he meets. Perhaps I'm just too cynical, but being an average girl myself, I wish there were more 'average' heroes and heroines who actually weren't that good looking to the general public but managed to find and love each other anyways. As well, the 'bad girl' in this book was pretty much just that: the bad girl, with no more depth to her. I wish we could have bad girls that go beyond just the stereotype of being blonde, beautiful, and confident, so therefore we must make them evil.
But those are just my nitpicks. I personally loved this novel and will check out the other books this author has written. Just a little note: for those reading this review that are of a younger age, the romance in this book is chaste, yet there are passionate moments that may be more suitable for an older audience who can better remove themselves from the characters' experiences.
Disclaimer: I received this book free courtesy of Bethany House and NetGalley. Their generosity has in no way affected the content of this review.