Tuesday, March 17, 2009
Tower of Strength by Annette Lyon
It was 1877 when Tabitha Hall Chadwick left Manti as a young bride. Now, nearly seven years later, she returns as a widow with her young son to make a new beginning. Tabitha's strained relationship with her mother–in–law adds more difficulty to her life as a single working mother. Yet with a stroke of courage, Tabitha makes two purchases that become her passions: the local newspaper and a traumatized horse. As she struggles to meet the challenges of her new roles, Tabitha welcomes the friendship of Samuel, a recently widowed British immigrant. Working together to train the abused horse, the two discover a second chance at love. But when Samuel is critically injured during the construction of the Manti Temple, Tabitha faces the pain of old wounds and the risk of new ones. Weaving themes of loss and renewal, this poignant tale explores a vital choice each of us must make: to seek safety in isolation or to embrace the painful yet beautiful complexities of life and love.
So everyone knows I’m not a big romance fan. (Sorry, Julie.) Neither am I a huge historical fiction fan. It’s not that I hate those genres—at least, I don’t hate historicals—it’s just that there are other genres that I like so much more.
So why am I reviewing another historical romance by Annette Lyon?
Because it was that good.
What I don’t like about traditional romances is the implausibility of the relationship between the helpless female and the irresistible rogue—yuk, gag, puke. Even though Tabitha fell apart when her young husband died in an explosion, she was not and is not helpless. She struggled to get an education and to provide for herself and her child. The woman that returns to Manti is strong and courageous, willing to stick to her convictions and do what is right, even though it may put her livelihood and her reputation in danger.
As for historicals, many of them remind me of high school—dull and boring, with the story line as an excuse to shove the history lesson down out throats. Yawn. But this is not a problem in this book. The history is the backdrop to the story, not the main point. We get enough to make it realistic and believable but it’s not a rehearsal of dates and facts.
I could appreciate Tabitha’s struggle when she began to have feelings for Samuel. On the one hand, this could develop into a deep and abiding love for a good man. On the other hand, it would open her heart up to pain again. I also enjoyed watching Samuel grow and change from a man who hated working with animals, to someone who allowed himself to be taught by and learn from a woman. These were two people with admirable qualities and great strength of character. It was easy to see how they would be attracted to each other.
I give this book 4 stars and recommend it to anyone who enjoys historical romance and a well-written story. You can read the first two chapters here.
(I love the background music for this book trailer.)
P.S. Annette came to one of my Urban Botanic Make & Take parties and created a fragrance for Tabitha.