16 November 2012

Review: Be Still My Soul by Joanne Bischof

Shy Lonnie Sawyer is forced by her abusive father into a shotgun marriage with handsome Gideon O'Reilly after he walks her home from a dance and kisses her goodnight. But marriage isn't what Lonnie expected. She leaves her home with Gideon, who wants to move to the nearby town of Slade to find work. But even that doesn't go according to plan as Gideon forges on without any thought for his wife and ends up walking in circles, lost. Close to starving, they are taken in by an older couple who form an immediate attachment to Lonnie, and agree to allow Gideon to stay for her sake.

The early Gideon was a thoroughly unlikeable character, but I saw Gideon gradually change, saw him grow up and realise that he was not the man he should be. What I didn't see was Lonnie seeing this. At one point she acknowledges that she loves Gideon (this is a Christian romance—we expect the married couple to live happily ever after), but I never really saw where she had changed her mind or why she had fallen for him. It seemed that on day she loathed him and the next she loved him—we never really saw Lonnie grow and change, either emotionally or spiritually. I also found the Christian elements very understated, possibly too much so.

As a first novel, Be Still My Soul shows promise. The author has captured the atmosphere of the Blue Mountains beautifully, the writing is good, and her characters feel very real. So, despite the faults noted above, I think Joanne Bischoff is a writer to watch.

Thanks to Multnomah Books and BloggingforBooks® for providing a free ebook for review (note that this book was first published in 2008 as Cry of My Heart). You can find out more about Joanne Bischof her website.

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