The Doctor's Wife

Gunslinger's Bride

Joe's Wife

Marry Me...Again

The Mistaken Widow

Prairie Wife

Sweet Annie

Secondhand Wife

The Tenderfoot Bride

The Preacher’s Daughter
by Cheryl St. John
(Harl. Hist. 851, $5.99, PG) ISBN 0-373-29451-4
A reader walks into a bookstore on the hunt for a sweet romance. What she gets are row upon row of erotic romance, vampires and the theme song to Mission Impossible running through her mind. Luckily for our intrepid reader, Cheryl St. John comes out with a new western historical just in time to meet her fix.

Lorabeth Holdridge is desperate for a life. Her father is the town preacher in Newton, Kansas and he raised his daughter to be hardworking, pious, and dutiful. Of course this also means she has spent her whole life following her father’s rules. No fun, no friends, no socializing, the poor girl lives the live of a Puritan. But she has a plan. After much pleading on her part her father agrees to allow her to work fulltime for the Chaney family. Dr. Caleb Chaney has a thriving practice, and his wife Ellie is about to give birth to child number five.

Benjamin Chaney is Ellie’s brother, and once he lays eyes on Lorabeth he knows he’s in trouble. While he’s a grown man, and has just started his own veterinarian practice, he cannot seem to forget his past. His childhood was horrific, having been born to a mother who was not only a prostitute, but an alcoholic. Ellie, Ben, and younger brother, Flynn, all had different Daddies, and witnessed things no child should ever be exposed to. Ben has spent his adult life determined to be a good person, to avoid temptation, because for him “being a man” isn’t necessarily a good thing.

Lorabeth is an innocent, but not too-stupid-to-live. She has led an extremely sheltered life, and is hungry for new experiences. This is a girl who gets excited about reading the newspaper, trying jellybeans for the first time, and reading a book from the library. Ben is completely smitten, but chalks it up to protecting her from the big, bad world, and basically appoints himself her guardian. Little does Ben know that Lorabeth does know her own mind, and in many instances is the smartest person in the room.

St. John weaves a strong redemption theme into this tale of a man who doesn’t think he’s good enough and a woman determined to love him. Readers will recognize Ben and the Chaneys from the author’s earlier release, The Doctor’s Wife, although it is not necessary to be familiar with that story to enjoy this one. Also refreshing is Lorabeth’s strong sense of faith. She’s strong because of it, but the author does not beat the reader over the head with Christianity. It will certainly appeal to inspirational readers, but also to readers who don’t want to be a preached to.

The author does have a tendency to “tell” as opposed to “show” on some occasions when it comes to what the characters are feeling, but these are minor lapses. In general this is a sweet story, with a strong message about starting over, forgiveness and love healing emotional wounds. Readers looking for strong internal conflict, no dastardly villains, and a sweet romance should add The Preacher’s Daughter to their shopping list.

--Wendy Crutcher

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