11 March 2013

Review: Love in the Balance by Regina Jennings

Molly Lovelace lives and works in Lockhart, the cultural centre of Caldwell County, Texas. She is looking for a husband who will meet her parents’ expectations and who will be able to support her in style. Who will be that man? Old friend Bailey Garner, or Edward Pierrepont? Her parents certainly favour the rich and dashing stranger from New York who is visiting Lockhart, and who seems rather taken with their daughter.

Bailey Garner has romantic feelings for Molly, but he is not a man her parents will approve of—and when he announces in front of the whole church that he needs prayer to free him from the burden of temptation so he can get right with God, Molly assumes she is the temptation he is speaking of and takes offence.

I really liked Bailey. He was by no means perfect (perfect is boring in a novel—it doesn’t provide any good conflict), but he had a heart for God and was prepared to stand up and be accountable for his behaviour. He knew what he was doing was wrong, so he took a positive step to change his behaviour—a step that Molly misinterpreted.

Molly comes across as rather self-absorbed in the early chapters of Love in the Balance. She is an intelligent woman with thoughts and attitudes that weren’t exactly commonplace in 1878 Texas. In fact, I found this really hard to get into because while Molly wasn’t stupid, she made some rather silly and impulsive choices. However, by halfway through I was absorbed and found I couldn’t put it down.

By the end I could see that some of Molly’s bad choices were actually made because she was trying to obey her parents, in particular her father, who didn’t really know or understand her. I thought the Christian side of the story was excellent, with a difficult theme of redemption and making the decision to obey our heavenly father, not our earthly one.

Love in the Balance is a standalone novel, but does feature some characters and locations from her previous novel, Sixty Acres and a Bride (Bailey Garner is cousin to Weston Garner, the hero of the first novel who has a cameo role in Love in the Balance).

Thanks to Bethany House and NetGalley for providing a free ebook for review. You can find out more about Regina Jennings at her website.

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