Monday, July 20, 2020

At Love's Command by Karen Witemeyer - a Bethany House book review

Karen Witemeyer, historic fiction, wild west, Christian romance

Karen Witemeyer's latest book, At Love's Command, is a historical romance set in Texas in 1893. Since my family took a trip out west when I was in 8th grade, I've always enjoyed reading about the landscape and people of the western half of the United States. 

One of the things I have come to appreciate about Witemeyer's books over other authors in this genre is her inclusion of the hardest parts of western life. Not just the tough landscape, but the tough questions that people faced back then and are facing again today: Whose land is this? Are we better or worse with law enforcement, what are the challenges of seeking justice in a rugged and often unforgiving landscape? Must our future life (and happiness) be dictated by our past mistakes, or does forgiveness really change us?

At Love's Command focuses on Dr. Josephine Burkett, and a retired calvary officer, Matthew Hanger. Though these are fictional characters, the challenges and choices they face come right from the pages of history. Calvary life after the Civil War ended was challenging, and many soldiers then, as today, face a certain amount of PTSD as well as self doubt. Being a female doctor in what was considered a man's profession was an almost unsurmountable obstacle, yet, some women trudged through the bias and misunderstanding and forged the way for others. 

Dr "Joe" and Matthew face challenges from within and without. Josephine is worried for her younger brother Charlie, who cannot seems to accept their father's direction and insistence he work for a living, instead of relying upon Dad to provide him with funds. She also wonders if part of Charlie's waywardness could be attributed to her leaving home and striking out for a new place to begin her medical practice, instead of trying to begin nearer to home. Texas is a big state, even with the use of trains it takes time to get home and back.

Matthew and his group of Horsemen: Jonah Brooks, Luke Davenport - commonly called 'Preach', and Mark Wallace have decided to leave the calvary behind and work as guns for hire. Not in a traditional mercenary fashion, but in trying to use their refined skills to search out justice for the oppressed and a fair ending to disputes and cattle rustling. When Mark gets shot while on an assignment, the nearest town with help is a wide spot on the trail with a single Doctor: Dr Joe. Sparks of a different kind fly when Matthew, who is used to being in charge, must defer to Josephine's directions, and her rules.

The only good thing about reaching the end of this book is knowing that it is book one in the series, and more will follow! I read it twice. I found the characters well-developed, unique, and achingly human. I look forward to the second book in the Hanger's Horseman series. If you enjoy reading about less-than-perfect people as they learn about God's love and forgiveness, this one is sure to entertain and inspire you. You too will become friends with Dr Joe and the Horsemen, and will look forward to their further adventures.

I received a digital ARC of At Love's Command in exchange for an honest review. All opinions are mine. I am disclosing this in accordance with FTC regulations.

P.S. Big thanks to Arlene for creating the graphic for this post.

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