Wednesday, April 15, 2015

Book Review: "Robin's Reward" (June McCrary Jacobs)

Robin Bennett, the librarian in small-town Bonita Creek and a master gardener, never expected life to change quite so dramatically and with very little warning.

It begins with Jeff Clarke, a recent addition to town whose career and motives are suspiciously unclear ... a concern that bothers Robin even as she finds herself attracted to him, especially when they make friends in the most unexpected way.

But when a jealous classmate from Robin's past targets her, and when Jeff's reason for being in town comes to light with shocking consequences, Robin begins to wonder if even her deep faith will sustain her.

Author June McCrary Jacobs presents Robin's Reward, book one in the Bonita Creek Trilogy, to be released later this month. The work is a sweet, small-town Christian romance, with all the earmarks of the genre, including clean content (no curse words, no violence, and nothing inordinately sexual, unless you count a couple of kisses) and the traditional happily-ever-after (HEA) ending.

(But you'll have to read the work to find out what that HEA looks like, in practice!)

Also reassuring for the genre standards is the faith-based content, with the town pastor playing a sizable role in the story, as well as the characters' own faith journeys, respectively and together. Christian fiction has never shied away from things like saying grace at meals, prayer in moments of crisis, thanksgiving, worship, and other like topics, and McCrary Jacobs's work is no exception.

As an example of traditional Christian fiction, such as that published in decades past by authors like Janette Oke, the book meets the aforementioned expectations organically and without surprise, and readers who prefer that genre may be content with the offering.

Stacked against other contemporary published fiction in general, however, the work falls flat to a degree, with what readers who are not necessarily Christians will likely see as relatively two-dimensional characters, not enough plot beyond a few weak misunderstandings, a fair amount of preaching, and a wholly unbelievable "villain" whose motives are never fully rounded out.

Additionally, the work is less showing (fleshed-out scenes with plenty of dialogue and character actions) and more telling (summary, flashback, internal monologue) which makes for a dragging pace and the feel that "not enough is happening."

Still, if you enjoyed the more documentary-style (as opposed to plot-driven) approach to writing taken by Laura Ingalls Wilder in her Little House on the Prairie series, you'll likely appreciate Robin's Reward for similar reasons.

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Author: June McCrary-Jacobs
Title: Robin's Reward
Series: Bonita Creek Trilogy (#1)
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Disclaimer: I received a complimentary copy of this work from the author in exchange for an honest, though not necessarily positive, review. The opinions I have expressed are my own.

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