The Hope of Azure Springs by Racheal Fordham
Christian romance / historical fiction
Seven years ago, orphaned and alone, Em finally arrived at a new home in Iowa after riding the orphan train. But secrets from her past haunt her, and her new life in the Western wilderness is a rough one. When her guardian is shot and killed, Em, now nineteen, finally has the chance to search for her long-lost sister, but she won’t be able to do it alone.
For Azure Springs Sheriff Caleb Reynolds, securing justice for the waifish and injured Em is just part of his job. He’s determined to solve every case put before him in order to impress his parents and make a name for himself. Caleb expects to succeed. What he doesn’t expect is the hold this strange young woman will have on his heart.
This book has been nominated for awards, and rightly so. it is fabulous. Heartwarming, romantic, tense, bring-you-to-tears.
What is unique about this book, is that the main character is not gorgeously beautiful and stunning. it struck me as odd, as honestly – and I know there are plenty of authors working on it now and there are plenty of books I have yet to read with physically imperfect leads – but I haven’t been exposed to many, as much of Christian romance though they don’t focus on physical beauty in the stories themselves, still have ‘beautiful’ lead characters.
It is refreshing to be exposed to books where lead characters not only have inner flaws, but outer flaws that they either accept,. or don’t accept, and thus causes conflict. This is authentic. This is real life.
Everyone has their favorite love-story tropes – or the ones they love to hate: This story, for me, was beautiful because of the absence of insta-love. It takes Caleb truly getting to know the inner heart of Em, looking past her outer flaws. That … is a beautiful parallel of God’s love for us in so many ways.
Overall, this book was well-crafted, well written, and so heartwarming. I thoroughly enjoyed it and I highly recommend you pick it up, too!