The Hope of Azure Springs – Rachel Fordham – Revell – Published 3 July 2018
Seven years ago, orphaned and alone, Em finally arrived at a new home in Iowa after riding the orphan train. But secrets from her past haunt her, and her new life in the Western wilderness is a rough one. When her guardian is shot and killed, Em, now nineteen, finally has the chance to search for her long-lost sister, but she won’t be able to do it alone.
For Azure Springs Sheriff Caleb Reynolds, securing justice for the waifish and injured Em is just part of his job. He’s determined to solve every case put before him in order to impress his parents and make a name for himself. Caleb expects to succeed. What he doesn’t expect is the hold this strange young woman will have on his heart.
I do enjoy a good historical romance and I’m always on the lookout for new titles and authors. The Hope of Azure Springs is Rachel Fordham’s debut novel and she does a superb job of piecing together this inspiring story. It was exactly the book I needed and I loved sinking into it. Comforting, uplifting, joyful and heartwarming, The Hope of Azure Springs was a delight to read.
Seven years ago Em traveled west on an orphan train. After seven years of barely surviving, Em’s only goal is to find her sister. But when her guardian is murdered and Em is injured, she is taken to the town of Azure Springs. There, for the first time in so many years, she is fed, cared for and loved. Taken in by a kind family and protected by the town’s sherif, Caleb Reynolds, Em learns to dream again. But her heart remains focused on reuniting with her sister.
What a stunning and delightful story. At first a little bumpy in places, the tone and flow of the story soon became clear and I was loath to tear myself away from the heartwarming characters and their story of strength, resilience and love. The Hope of Azure Spring feels a little like one of the fairytales so often mentioned within its pages. This book carries a little magic with it and has a style all its own.
Em is a wonderful character. Despite everything that she has ensured and the loss she has faced she is kind and brings a little sunshine to every situation. She isn’t infallible by any means – she struggles with self-esteem and what others think of her and her appearance – but her generosity of spirit endears her to all.
At first, Caleb seems a very incompetent sheriff, bumbling through his first interview with Em. With initial judgements and a harsh tone, he hardly seemed an ideal hero. At one moment gentle and understanding and the next harsh and brash, he is easily distracted by outward beauty and initially discards Em as plain and poorly. Yet, through Em, Caleb undergoes such a wonderful growth in character. Through Em’s strength, kindness and joy, he learns to look beyond outward appearances and to return to the joy and dreams of his youth. The time Caleb and Em spend together as they build their friendship is very sweet. They compete, laugh and work together, building a depth of relationship and connection that was wonderful to read.
I adored the pacing in this novel. Everything has its time, is given its due. There is a little action and tension as they chase and capture the bad guys, but the remainder of the story flows like a gentle stream. Characters are given time to develop, unfold and grow. Relationships and feelings slowly bloom. Time is given to reflection, self-discovery, and to making independent choices.
You can tell the author poured her heart and soul into this book and it comes through every word. Utterly charming and so very romantic, The Hope of Azure Springs was a delight to read. I certainly hope that this debut will not be Rachel Fordham’s only offering, and I look forward to reading anything she next writes.
The publishers provided an advanced readers copy of this book for reviewing purposes. All opinions are my own.
Genre: Christian historical.
Themes: Orphans, American West, friendship, murder, belonging, romance, mystery, grief, family, sisters, appearance.
Published: 3 July 2018 by Revell.
Format: Paperback, hardcover, ebook. 336 pages.