Thursday, November 1, 2012

Review: A Lady in Defiance by Heather Blanton

Book Description from Amazon:

Publication Date:March 31, 2012


Charles McIntyre owns everything and everyone in the lawless, godless mining town of Defiance. When three good, Christian sisters from his beloved South show up stranded, alone, and offering to open a "nice" hotel, he is intrigued enough to let them stay...especially since he sees feisty middle sister Naomi as a possible conquest. But Naomi, angry with God for widowing her, wants no part of Defiance or the saloon-owning, prostitute-keeping Mr. McIntyre. It would seem however, that God has gone to elaborate lengths to bring them together. The question is, "Why?" Does God really have a plan for each and every life?

Written with gritty, but not gratuitous, realism uncharacteristic of the historical Christian fiction genre, A Lady in Defiance gives a nod to both Pride and Prejudice and Redeeming Love. The story, based on true events, is an "ensemble" piece that deftly weaves together the relationships of the three sisters and the rowdy residents of Defiance.


I've been particularly drawn to Historical Romance novels as of lately, especially Christian Romances set in the late 1800s. Though there are possibly thousands of books available in this genre and time period for Amazon's Kindle, I've yet to find one that was as impactful and inspiring as my latest read. It's hard to believe that a story about prostitutes, gold mining and three Bible-toting sisters could be intertwined with a powerful message about God's mercy and unyielding love, but there's no mistake-this book has it all! Sometimes writers of this genre tend to paint an unrealistic, almost naïve picture of Christians in general, and that really bugs me. What I liked most about Blanton's novel was how each character is exposed to their very core, their faults laid out in the open for all to see. This made her characters seem real and relatable. The author reveals that Christians are flawed and imperfect just like everyone else. It's funny, as I was reading this book I kept comparing it to my favorite Christian Historical Romance, Redeeming Love. As you can see in the description by Amazon, the similarities have not gone unnoticed!

I thought that the premise of the story played out very well. When the three sisters set out to open up a business in the God-forsaken, prostitution laden, gold mining town of Defiance, you aren't sure whether they will make it or not. The main character, Naomi, isn't your typical Victorian "lady". I would describe her persona as a cross between Scarlett O'Hara and Calamity Jane. She's beautiful, headstrong, and feisty-to-a-fault. Her sisters Rebecca and Hannah are also richly developed characters and certainly have faults of their own. Rebecca, the oldest, was the less developed of the three. Hannah's character was the most interesting to me, as her predicament and how she handled it was the basis for the story. As the youngest of the three, Hannah has found herself pregnant at sixteen, and unmarried at that. Wait---WHAT? Did I just say that one of the main Christian characters was an unwed, pregnant teenager? It's true. Because guess what? Teenage pregnancy has happened for a long, long time. I really enjoyed the author's forward in the beginning of the book. She tells about her inspiration for writing the book and how Hannah's character is based on something that happened to her own sister. Yes, she had me crying before the book had even started- it.was.that.good!

McIntire was the character I loved to hate. From the beginning I didn't see how he could change and become likeable. Frankly I just wanted him to disappear throughout most of the book (which I suppose isn't a very Christian attitude). Awful as he is, it's amazing what Blanton did with his character throughout the course of the story. I love it when authors change your mind about someone entirely. It's a sure sign that they really know what they're doing. The author also manages to change your mindset about the gum-smacking, whiskey-guzzling, bosoms-a-popping-out-of-their-tops prostitutes who try to run the sisters out of town. Blanton provides a sobering, humbling glimpse of these sinners through God's eyes.

On a final note, I have to talk about how much I loved the literal and figurative meanings of the title. There were no "ladies" to speak of in Defiance before the sisters arrived, and it seemed throughout the book that their reputations as ladies were at stake. Figuratively, the association of Naomi defying God's will for her, and defying the citizens' opinion of her is also reflected in the title. I would recommend this book to anyone who enjoys Historical Romance and Christian literature and to anyone who just wants a well put together, believable story. It is Book 1 of the Romance in the Rockies Series. I couldn't find information about other installments, but I will be sure to read the next one of Heather Blanton's books.

On a Page-Turner scale of 1-10, I would give this book a 7. It was slow-moving in some parts, but full of heart-pumping action near the end.