In late April, I met Karen Witemeyer at a writing conference. I’d read two of her books in preparation for the writing conference so I could be familiar with her work, and I enjoyed the books, our conversation and her writing expertise so much, I bought another of her books and eagerly awaited the release of her newest, Stealing the Preacher. I entered giveaways aplenty to try to win myself a copy but no such luck. In the end, I received a free digital copy from Bethany House Publishers in exchange for my review. Not a bad deal.
Crockett Archer (who is one of the brothers from Short-Straw Bride, a story that reminded me of Seven Brides for Seven Brothers) is on his way to audition for a preaching job when the train he’s riding on is stopped by bandits who aren’t out for material possessions. They’re looking for a preacher. Him. Ex-outlaw Silas Robbins will do anything for his only daughter Joanna, including holding up a train and kidnapping a preacher. Joanna’s church has set empty for two years and what she wants more than anything is a preacher to fill the pulpit and to revive the church. When her father arrives home with a preacher in tow–one he kidnapped–Joanna is both outraged and hopeful. Is Crockett Archer the man she prayed for?
Witemeyer sets her stories in 19th century Texas and I love the setting. Her characters are vivid, as well, and I find myself smiling when I read her books. They’re fun, first of all, and full of wholesome romance. Crockett is dreamy–maybe I’m biased because I married a preacher!–and Joanna is relatable because she doesn’t see the beauty in herself that others see. I get that.
At the start of the story, Crockett has a plan for his life, and he’s disappointed when it doesn’t turn out the way he expected. I’ve been there, too. Our ministry journey hasn’t been what I expected, and it’s easy to be bitter about that. But Crockett submits to the Lord’s leading and catches a vision for his purpose elsewhere. It’s an inspiring story of seeing the good in a situation even when it’s not what you thought it would be.
And this is the other thing I love about Witemeyer’s stories: they’re not just historical and romantic–they’re spiritual. And not just surfacey stuff. Woven throughout her stories are deeper issues of calling, trust, submission, forgiveness and truth, but they aren’t forced themes.
Witemeyer is a skilled storyteller and encouraging writer. If you’ve yet to pick up one of her books, now is the time.
P.S. I don’t always watch book trailers, but this one is worth a look!