Friday, April 26, 2013

Book Review: Whatever Tomorrow Brings by Lori Wick (Californians #1)

Stars: 4 out of 5
Pros: Characters that draw you into the story
Cons: Weak writing
The Bottom Line:
Travel back in time
For a chaste Christian romance
That's enjoyable

Can Tomorrow Bring Romance from Tragedy?

I often mention to be how big the list of books I want to read is.  I'm not exaggerating.  Take this book, for example.  Whatever Tomorrow Brings has been on my to be read list since Lori Wick published it in 1992.  And yet I am finally getting around to reading it.

This book is the first of four romances she wrote about the Donovan family in 1871.  And the reason I have been intrigued is the majority of the action takes place in the town where I grew up.  Granted, I didn't recognize a big of it here, not even a place name.  But it was still a fun connection.

As the novel opens, however, the Donovan family is serving in Hawaii as missionaries.  They've been there so long that the two younger kids, aged 14 and 9, don't even remember the mainland.  20 year old Kaitlin barely remembers it, in fact.

But all that is about to change.  They are taking a long discussed furlough to visit relatives in San Francisco.  Unfortunately, tragedy strikes during their visit.  Deciding to relocate permanently to California, the father sets out to close their affairs in Hawaii, leaving Kaitlin in charge of her younger brother and sister.

The trio start out staying with an aunt, but after a horrid encounter, they set out on their own for Santa Rosa, where Kaitlin has found a teaching position.  It is also there that she meets Marshall Riggs and his family.  He is immediately smitten with the pretty teacher, but she isn't interested.  Will that change?  Can Kaitlin take care of herself and her siblings until her father returns?

What made this book work so well for me was the characters.  While their flaws were minimal, they really came to life.  I cared what happened to Kaitlin, Marshall, and their families.  While I found the amount of tears shed as the book progressed to be a little too much at times, I'll confess I choked up several times along with them.  I truly felt like they were friends, and I didn't want to leave.

And the love of the characters overcame a predictable plot.  The story actually starts out rather slowly.  We're about 75 pages in before Marshall even comes on the scene.  When he does, it's rather obvious how the story will end.  But I was hooked on every page, often reading much later then I should have.  There were a couple sub-plots weaved into the story that I couldn't predict, so those kept me reading as well.

Being a Christian novel, the romance is very chaste.  That's a plus in my book.  There were a couple times where Christianity was a focus of the book, bur for the most part, the book never became preachy.  Instead, it was incorporated as part of the character's lives.

The biggest flaw in the book is the writing.  My two biggest pet peeves involve being told how characters are feeling instead of being shown and frequent view point switches.  Both of those were here in spades.  Heck, some times we learned about a conversation in just a few sentences instead of actually seeing it.  As I got into the story, I began to notice these flaws less and less, however.

Whatever Tomorrow Brings is a light, innocent Christian romance.  It won't be for everyone, but it is a charming tale that will entertain the target audience.

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