|Wild West Rogues In Disguise|
Trouble In Store by Carol Cox
Christian Historical Fiction
Bethany House, June 1 2013
Review copy provided by the publisher, thank you!
Burton Book Review Rating:
Fired from her most recent governess position, Melanie Ross must embrace her last resort: the Arizona mercantile she inherited from her cousin. But Caleb Nelson is positive he inherited the mercantile, and he’s not about to let some obstinate woman with newfangled ideas mess up all he’s worked for. He’s determined to get Melanie married off as soon as possible, and luckily there are plenty of single men in town quite interested in taking her off his hands. The problem is, Caleb soon realizes he doesn’t want her to marry up with any of them. He’s drawn to Melanie more every day, and he has to admit some of her ideas for the store unexpectedly offer positive results.
But someone doesn’t want the store to succeed, and what used to be just threatening words has escalated into deliberate destruction and lurkers in the night. When a body shows up on the mercantile steps–and the man obviously didn’t die from natural causes–things really get dangerous. Can Melanie and Caleb’s business–and romance–survive the trouble that’s about to come their way?
Trouble In Store is a story of a young woman forced to make her own future when she finds herself without an income and without friends. The last place she had any family was many miles away, yet she decides to take her chances and seek them out as a last resort. Her welcome to Arizona is not as expected, but since she has nowhere else to go she is determined to make the best of her situation. Melanie decides to help Caleb run a mercantile store and strange events occurring around them spell danger for them both.
This novel was a quick read and based on other reviews I was expecting a little more power behind the story but instead it seemed to be a bit too cookie cutter for me. The faith feature that I expect from this publisher also seemed to be toned down; there were no characters that were struggling with their faith and I didn’t grasp an underlying Christian theme other than an occasional meeting with the preacher in public.
One of the main difficulties I had with trying to immerse myself in the story were the characters themselves. The author forgot to describe these two main protagonists and so we only got to learn about them through their conversations and mannerisms. If the author portrayed Caleb as a handsome merchant using her eloquent and descriptive prose, perhaps I would have cared a little more instead of imagining the blank faces of Melanie and Caleb. Instead, it was 66% of the way through that I finally learned that Caleb had ‘soft, sand-colored waves’ of hair. And that’s it.
Otherwise, the plot read well: dilemma, quaint romance, mystery, murder, lynch mobs and then a happy romance in the middle of a small western town in 1885. Dusty, wide open spaces and simple living was an easy setting to portray for the author which she did well. Running the mercantile store was a theme to the story and a helpful tool for the author to introduce several interesting characters along with details of the items for sale from days gone by. I have to mention that there were a few instances where I was guilty of ‘smack of my head’ moments due to the implausible actions of our protagonists which didn’t help endear me to the story, but since this was a fairly standard Christian historical, if you imagine a young Brad Pitt going in perhaps you’ll love this one as much as some of the other reviewers did.