Thursday, October 17, 2013

A HOPEFUL HEART by Kim Vogel Sawyer

The year is 1888 and Tressa Neill finds herself stepping off a train in Barnett, Kansas. She has come to this town, along with several other young ladies, to attend  the Wyatt Herdsman School.  Tressa has been sent her against her desires because the Aunt and Uncle who have raised her think it is her only way to land a man.  The school is a one-of-a-kind set-up where "Aunt Hattie" will teach the girls from the East the skills needed to become a wife of a rancher; from cooking to branding and horseback riding.  The things is, can Tressa survive the training and can she lasso herself a rancher?

This was a unique but very enjoyable storyline.  I liked the concept of girls coming west to learn to live in the west before marrying a rancher.  The town doesn't lack for ranchers and men who want a wife, so it is a matter of finding the right man for the right girl.  Tressa was a lady who at one time was able to see and remember a happy loving marriage before her parents died, and then she endured a loveless upbringing by her aunt and uncle.  She wants to find a man like her father.

Abel Samms is a man who wants nothing to do with women, after he had already gotten a "mail order bride" which didn't work out for him.  But he wasn't counting on being smitten with Tressa.  Aunt Hattie was a jewel in the rough.  I loved her desire to see her school be a success and teach the girls how to become a rancher's wife.  She was a tenderhearted woman who survived heartache in her life, but who had  a strong faith in the Lord and wasn't afraid to share it.  A couple of her gems she shared that I really appreciated:  "We can't really define good.  The problem with our human eyes is that we can only see the right now.  But God, He sees around the corner, over the hill, and clean to the horizon.   So sometimes those things we face that we don't understand - the things we think of as bad - are really for our good down the line."  And then there was, "Man's reasonin' is foolishness in the sight o' God.  Just 'cause things don't go the way we want 'em to doesn't mean God's quit carin'.  He cares deep, but His ways aren't our.  His ways are always better."

The other thing I liked about this story is the mystery behind the cattle rustling going on at Abel's ranch.  There were many times when I thought I knew what was going on behind the stealing, but it wasn't until near the end, where the real truth became obvious to me.  I always like a story that keeps me guessing until the end.  And there were characters in the story that I didn't think I would like, but who surprised me and who I came to appreciate.  All around, it was a very enjoyable romance with mystery and danger thrown in to keep it even more interesting.  So saddle up and head to Barnett, Kansas for a delightful stay at Aunt Hattie's "Herdsman School".

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