Review of Out of Embers by Amanda Cabot   Leave a comment

 

Ten years after her parents were killed, Evelyn Radcliffe is once more homeless. The orphanage that was her refuge and later her workplace has burned to the ground, and only she and a young orphan girl have escaped. Convinced this must be related to her parents’ murders, Evelyn flees with the girl to Mesquite Springs in the Texas Hill Country and finds refuge in the home of Wyatt Clark, a talented horse rancher whose plans don’t include a family of his own.

At first, Evelyn is a distraction. But when it becomes clear that trouble has followed her to Mesquite Springs, she becomes a full-blown disruption. Can Wyatt keep her safe from the man who wants her dead? And will his own plans become collateral damage?

Suspenseful and sweetly romantic, Out of the Embers is the first in a new series that invites you to the Texas Hill Country in the 1850s, when the West was wild, the men were noble, and the women were strong.

***

 

A haunted orphan on the run, a desperate killer willing to murder whoever stands in his way, and a charming rancher who wants to follow his own dreams but stays to take care of his family. Sounded good to me, and something that set it apart from the usual Western romance. The beginning started out strong enough. Evelyn has always felt like a watcher has been monitoring her movements. When the orphanage she’s been living at for 10 years is mysteriously burned down and all its inhabitants with it, she knows her past has finally caught up with her. She flees with Polly, the only orphan to escape the carnage because she was with her. They travel to the quaint town of Mesquite Springs where during a thunderstorm, they are found by a handsome rancher, Wyatt Clark.

For me, I kept looking for the story to pick up in some way. If not with the plot, at least some more interesting character interaction. But it’s very brief and any character conflicts are swiftly resolved. We had an interesting one going with Sam, a lawyer who is Wyatt’s friend, and determined to have his own way no matter what. After building up on this, though, things are swiftly resolved within a page and a half, roughly. Once we finish meandering through the rest of the story, the author decides to throw in a hasty confrontation with the villain and poof! All done, and you’re left feeling like you missed something.

For characters, they’re solid, no complaints there. Polly, Evelyn’s six year old companion, I confess annoyed me tremendously. I’ve always thought that if you’re an orphan and someone is going out of their way to take care of you, show a little respect. This one shows zero, and alternates between being a cute girl to a spoiled little runt you just want to squash (I know that sounds violent :P).

The romance is bland, and the standard insta-attraction that morphs into love. Nothing memorable, or what would tug at my heartstrings.
For the moral message, I was a little bit disgusted with how it was portrayed. One of the themes at the beginning is to abstain from lying. Evelyn, however, in a strange town and believing that the person who murdered her parents just destroyed an orphanage with a bunch of innocent children, decides to change her last name and lie about her past to avoid drawing attention and alerting whoever might be stalking her. This is somehow still wrong.

I appreciated the scene where the characters pray for healing and God answers. But what deflated it for me was “well God, we know you don’t heal everyone, so if it be your will…” Wow, that’s a load of faith. I was almost shocked the prayer even got answered.

So personal feelings aside on some of the scenes, the story is charming enough on its own. If you’re looking for a lighthearted romance with just a touch of suspense, you won’t be disappointed. As for something truly moving, or even eliciting that warm feeling inside that you get when you read some books, I can’t say you’ll get that with this book. At least I didn’t, anyway.

Verdict: Pass, unless you’re looking for a slow read.

(I received a free copy of the book from the publisher and author from the blogging program in exchange for an honest review. All opinions expressed are my own.)

 

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