12 January 2016

Review: A Reluctant Melody by Sandra Ardoin

The Best Kind of Historical Romance

It’s 1892 in North Carolina, and Joanna Stewart is a young widow with a secret and a reputation. The gossip-mongers in town accuse her of doing away with her husband, as there was little love between them. Now she’s being romantically pursued by her stepson (who is six years older than her), figuratively pursued by Kit Barnes (who wants to buy her house) and physically pursued by Liam (who is blackmailing her around her secret).

Kit regrets his youthful mistakes—especially Joanna—and his past battles with alcohol, which was a contributing factor to said youthful mistakes. He wants to buy Joanna’s house to establish a mission to help people fight the demon drink, but first he’s got to convince her he’s a changed man. And then he’s got to convince himself he’s not interested . . . this is a romance. No prizes for guessing whether or not he succeeds!

I thought both Kit and Joanna were great characters. They’ve made their mistakes in the past, and Kit in particular has turned his life around with God’s help. A Reluctant Melody is clearly Christian fiction, in that the spiritual aspects are as important as the romantic, but it’s never preachy—the Christian elements fit within the plot without being forced. The minor characters are also excellent, and add significantly to the plot and to the suspense.

The one problem with A Reluctant Melody was that the characters, especially Joanna, kept secrets from the reader as well as from the other characters. This added to the suspense as I wondered what Joanna’s big secret was (hey, it’s always good for character to have secrets. It makes them interesting). But this also made it difficult to get completely into Joanna’s head, as it felt as though by holding back from her secret, she was hiding part of herself or lying to herself.

I’d classify A Reluctant Melody as historical romance with touches of suspense, and it was the combination of exceptional characters and the suspense subplot (and the twist) that lifted this novel above average, at least for me. But then all my regular readers know I’ve got a soft spot for romantic suspense! Recommended.

Thanks to the author for providing a free ebook for review.

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