"The person, be it gentleman or lady, who has not pleasure in a good novel, must be intolerably stupid." — Jane Austen, Northanger Abbey

Wednesday, June 2, 2010

Betsy's Return (Brides of Lehigh Canal, Book 2) by Wanda E. Brunstetter

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Summary: A woman returns to her hometown to care for her ailing minister father and falls in love with the pastor who replaced her father. 

I was given a copy of this book by the publisher.

As you can guess from the title, Betsy returns to the Lehigh Canal region in Pennsylvania to care for her ailing father, the former pastor of Walnutport. Soon after her arrival, she meets the replacement pastor, Reverend William Covington of Buffalo.  

This is William's first position as pastor and his wealthy family would prefer that he minister to a wealthier community as well as one closer to home. But having been jilted at the altar by his fiance, William needs to escape and heal from his hurt and humiliation. As William vows never to let his heart be vulnerable, we, as readers, know that he and Betsy will eventually find each other in their loneliness.  

Betsy was an interesting character. From lines in this book, I can tell that Betsy was pretty much a bitch in the first book in this trilogy. Her sharp comments, snobbery and ego seemed to have made her a lot of enemies in the first book. Betsy seems unsure of her reception in Walnutport, as she now recognizes all she had done to hurt people. I always like it when characters develop and grow during a book or series, and although I haven't read the first book, I can appreciate Betsy's new maturity, even though it interferes with her romance.
"She had noticed how handsome the pastor was, and if she were still the old flirtatious Betsy, she might be tempted to let her interest in the man be known. But she had changed and would not throw herself at any man, no matter how much he might interest her. If God ever decided that she should have a husband, then He would have to cause that man to make the first move."
Betsy is struggling with her obligations to her father, feeling displaced since she is no longer the pastor's daughter, and finds herself tentatively intrigued by the new minister. And when she advises the pastor on ways to better serve the community, they find themselves enjoying their time together. Who better to advise a novice pastor than the pastor's daughter, right? William's grouchy housekeeper Mrs. Bevens resents the entire Lehigh Canal community and does her best to distance William from his church community and especially Betsy. Of course, Mrs. Bevens becomes the biggest obstacle to the relationship between William and Betsy, although Betsy is seen kissing another man. Of course that man kissed Betsy first and she rejected his advances but Betsy's landlady Freda
"explained that she'd walked away after she'd seen them kissing, so she hadn't witnessed whatever had followed."
Puh-leeze. You mean to tell me that Freda wouldn't have stared at some big burly canal man kissing the former reverend's daughter? Not a credible scene. 

I was so astonished that a character talks about making a salad for supper that I immediately searched for when Americans started serving salad. I was convinced that 1896 was too early, but I was wrong. That makes me think that the author really did research about canal life at that time. 

This was a nice, sweet Christian romance. The plot moved along fairly quickly and the writing was easy and simplistic, with more than a few Scripture quotations thrown in. I do read Christian fiction, but this one seemed to have more than the usual amount of Bible quotes. Given that the hero was a minister and the heroine a minister's daughter, this did make sense.

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