*I received a review copy in Kindle form of this book. All opinions expressed are my own.
There is something about a cowboy story that I love. I love books that go backwards in time to an era that was much simpler in many ways. I realize that life was far from idyllic, but I often find myself gravitating towards that lifestyle. And reading books from bygone eras always gives me that (sometimes needed) escape from reality. Chautona Havig’s newest book (released TODAY) is one of those. I didn’t want it to end.
Jack is about a cowboy with a past. He is a man who finds it difficult to trust women after being betrayed by someone he loved. The story tells us of his trust in Christ and how he comes to know a young women who turns his heart to love.
Hazel grew up as the pampered daughter of a banker. She loves the life of the ranching town where her father owns the bank and chafes under her mother’s desire for her to be a rich man’s wife in a city. After returning home from boarding school, Hazel meets Jack who challenges her in ways she had never experienced before. She learns that marriage is about accepting other’s faults, while recognizing that they are there. Too many girls/women overlook the faults of their spouse until they are married and they become huge issues. There was one part of the book where Hazel’s father sits her down and explains to her that Jack’s fault is a pretty big one and that she needs to understand what she is getting herself into before she actually marries him. I appreciated her understanding of this principle, even if her actions didn’t always mirror it.
Jack’s lack of trust brings a climax to the story with what seems like another betrayal by the woman he loves. I liked the truth brought out in this part of the book about our need to find out the truth behind a story. We need to listen to both sides of the issue and seek the truth before passing judgment on people. It’s while Jack is sitting around a campfire with other cowboys, singing a ballad (an actual ballad that can be found on Chautona’s blog) that he realizes the truth of what everyone around him has been trying to say.
The book, itself, is based, loosely, on Shakespeare’s Much Ado About Nothing – and the sub-characters add quite a bit to the book. The sparring between Deborah and Dirk is perfect and the Sheriff’s word gaffes will bring a smile, if not a laugh.
One thing I did not like about the book is that after Jack leaves (thinking he’s been betrayed yet again), Hazel literally pines herself near to death over him. She claims it’s over worry for him, but I thought it showed a lack of trust in the Lord’s ability to protect Jack. Maybe it’s because I have a daughter now, but I struggle with books that portray wrong behavior as being “okay”. Essentially, she is exhibiting serious signs of depression (regardless of whether it is worry over him or sadness over her own situation) and I didn’t feel this was addressed appropriately in the book. Knowing how destructive depression can be, and seeing how this one was based solely on a person’s place in her life (as soon as Jack returns she’s fine) is scary and places a large burden on a man – a burden that no human should have to bear. It was an awkward part of the story for me and, I felt it wasn’t extremely necessary to the plot except for the fact of the story following Shakespeare’s original play. I realize the author was trying to stay true to Shakespeare’s original storyline and needed to include it without changing the plot too much. Because of that this is book is definitely different and my thoughts in this paragraph are just something to think on if reading the book.
Overall I enjoyed the book and not having a good understanding of Shakespeare’s original play might have worked in my favor when reading it, haha. I love Deborah and Dirk and the sparring between them. Chautona creates amazing characters that are very well thought-out. The spiritual themes of trust and forgiveness were a good part of the book as well. I hope you all get a chance to read it.