Tuesday, January 18, 2011
Tammy Barley's Faith's Reward ~ Reviewed
Faith’s Reward by Tammy Barley
Published by Whitaker House
The year 1865 starts out as a nightmare come true for Jessica Bennett. Even though she is with child-an answer to heartfelt prayers-the cattle she and her husband, Jake, fought to save from drought the summer before now face the threat of freezing to death. Her fears worsen when Jake contracts pneumonia.
Springtime brings trials of a different kind-the snowmelt causes the ranch to thrive so much that Jake must sell off the last of their cattle to make room for their horses and the young foals to be born. In the meantime, Jess endeavors to recover her rightful inheritance, which mysteriously disappeared from the bank. When she discovers a link between the banker and a group of murderous Unionists, who continue to target Southerners even though the war is over, Jake launches an undercover investigation.
The conspiracy runs deeper and wider than either of them could have imagined. Jess must put her life-and the life of her unborn child-at risk to stop the ringleader and save the lives of many others. Yet, Jess refuses to give up hope in the God she serves-a God of love who often provides above and beyond our greatest dreams.
Tammy Barley’s Faith’s Reward grabbed me from page one. She wrote by far the most intriguing first page I have ever read. The novel, set in Northern California in 1865, opens with Jessica Bennet jolting upright in bed after having a frightening premonition. Wind rattles against window panes, cold seeps through glass, and darkness enshrouds her, heightening the tension of the scene. Beside her, the bed is empty, which can only mean one thing—her husband is out in the storm, fighting to save their cattle during a bitterly cold blizzard.
Despite her pregnancy, Jessica hurries outside, driven by fear for her husband and concern for their already diminished cattle. While ranch hands works to chisel cattle from beneath sheets of ice, her husband grows increasingly sick—the storm has given him pneumonia. It isn’t long before Jessica’s fear is replaced with panic as she realizes his chances of survival are limited.
I loved all the homeopathic remedies Jessica and her ranch aids used in their effort to save Jessica’s ailing husband. It was clear Tammy spent a great deal of time researching medicinal practices of this period, and during the pneumonia scenes, the details were effectively woven into the story without jolting the reader. I also appreciated the tender love Jessica shared with her husband and their obvious faith. Each character presented came alive and Jessica’s tender yet headstrong nature created a dynamic woman that was easy to relate to.
On numerous occasions, Tammy’s unique word choices and colorful phrases amused me. Visual detail was seamlessly woven into the story, creating rich images in the reader’s mind. However, there was a considerable amount of backstory was provided, especially in the first chapter, and at times the dialogue and thought tags pulled me from the story. Yet despite the over-abundance of tags and occasional information intrusion, I found the story line engaging. I empathized deeply with Jessica and her husband and wanted to see Mr. Bennet overcome the odds, living to see the birth of his child.
Reviewed by: Jennifer Slattery