A Surprising Love Story

Shalini Ayre

4.5 Stars

October 10, 2012

Content to blend into the background, Lonnie Sawyer is a shy, innocent and hardworking 17 year old. Living in the hollows of the Appalachian hills, her family is poor and endure an abusive father/husband.

When the town's ladies man, Gideon O'Riley walks her home one evening, their kiss sets off a chain of events that no-one expected. Seen by Joel, Lonnie's father, he forces them to marry with the firm belief that his eldest daughter committed a sin. With neither one knowing or loving each other, Gideon makes the decision to leave Rocky Knob behind and head for the large town of Stuart to find a job.

In a harsh journey fueled by anger and the injustice of marrying a practical stranger Gideon leads Lonnie on a path filled with dangers. His growing resentment leads him to make silly decisions and he treats his new wife with complete contempt. Used to being treated roughly, Lonnie tries to stand up to Gideon but the journey is taking its toll. Her deep faith in God is ebbing as she struggles to understand the path that He is asking her to take. Meeting the grizzly Jebediah and his homely wife Elsie, is a turning point - one that may see Lonnie losing Gideon forever. Will she and Gideon ever be united as husband and wife? Gideon knows that all Lonnie wants is to be genuinely loved, little does he realize that he may need that love reciprocated.

Bischof's debut novel is a powerful romance that questions her's characters faith in both love and God. Each of her characters have been crafted to create people with great depth and warmth. Gideon is slow to like, Lonnie's courage and faith is immediately captivating - they're opposites in almost every way yet there is an attraction and Gideon finds himself being protective and Lonnie forgiving until he pushes her too far. Beautifully written, the story is enticing and rich with descriptions of the Virginian mountains and its people.

I thoroughly enjoyed this book. From the opening page I couldn't put it down. Emotions are abound and I found myself in varying stages of happiness, frustration annoyance and tears. Bischof's gentle weaving of a growing love as well as the questioning of faith is charming and a highly recommended read for fans of either/both romance and Christian fiction.

I received a complimentary copy of this book from the Blogging for Books program part of WaterBrook Multnomah publishing. The opinions expressed are my own and I am not required to give a positive review.