Friday, September 25, 2015

Heart's Journey Tells A Familiar, But Overall Enjoyable Pioneer Tale

(Image from Amazon)

A wealthy city girl, Rachel Hamilton knows nothing about trekking through the wilderness.  And yet, she's doing just that.  She can't let her older brother declare their father—who left Toronto five years ago to open a gold mine in British Columbia—officially dead until she knows it's true.  It's been three years since Rachel received a letter from him, but she refuses to believe he's no longer living.  She just needs to see him with her own eyes.  

At Fort Garry, Rachel joins a company of rough-and-tumble miners heading west.  Feeling satisfied with her progress, she settles in for the long, arduous journey to Bellefontaine.  They haven't gone far before one of the men scares Rachel.  She runs off, soon finding herself hopelessly lost in the flat, endless prairie.  Without food, water, compass, or any survival skills whatsoever, Rachel realizes for the first time how helpless she is and how foolish she was to embark on such an impossible quest.  If she knew which way to turn, she'd stomp her way right back to Toronto, where she belongs.

When Rachel is rescued by an enigmatic cowboy who promises to escort her to the nearest fort, she's grateful.  Peter doesn't say much, although he makes his annoyance with Rachel well known.  With his educated speech, she knows Peter is more than a crusty cowboy.  As the pair, along with Peter's young charge, make their slow way across the plains, Rachel tries to pry away his secrets without giving away any of hers.  Will the two learn to trust each other as they make their way toward B.C.?  

Rachel wouldn't have chosen Peter as a travel companion, but the more time they spend together, the more afraid she is of having to say goodbye to him.  What will happen to them when they reach their destination?  Will Rachel find both her missing father and the love she never knew she was missing?  Or will the journey leave her empty-handed still?

As with most road trip novels, Heart's Journey by Kristen McKendry, is less about the character's destination and more about what she learns along the way.  Rachel, who's lived a privileged, but confined life, discovers just how big the world really is and how very little she understands it.  Her hike across Canada also shows her the many things she can do without—and the one thing (person) she can't.  Although its setting is not the American West, Heart's Journey tells the typical pioneer story, complete with all the usual trappings—inclement weather, threatening wildlife, Indian trouble, mind-numbing exhaustion, desperate hunger/thirst, and blooming romance (in spite of everything else).  While both Rachel and Peter are likable, neither really stand out as unique.  Their adventures keep the story plodding along, but the novel feels overly long.  Rachel's plight seems too easy, as she gets rescued almost every time she's in trouble, instead of finding her own way out of difficult situations.  Although the story gets dull at times (there was rarely a point when I couldn't put it down), overall, I enjoyed this clean, hopeful tale.  I wouldn't call it memorable, but it's a decent read. 

(Readalikes:  Reminded me of other pioneer-ish tales, like In the Company of Angels by David Farland, These Is My Words by Nancy Turner, Borrowed Light by Carla Kelly, etc.)

Grade:




If this were a movie, it would be rated:


for violence, scenes of peril, mild sexual innuendo, and vague references to prostitution

To the FTC, with love:  I received a finished copy of Heart's Journey from the generous folks at Covenant in exchange for participating in the book's virtual tour.  Thank you!

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6 comments:

  1. thanks for the awesome giveaway! and thanks for checking out my TTT post at wholly-books.com this week! happy reading!

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  2. See, I never would have thought of this one as a road trip book after reading the synopsis but you're right. It is a road trip book. Though, maybe without roads? It sounds cute. To bad the characters fell flat.

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    1. For me, any book that is about a long journey and everything that happens along the way is a road trip novel. Maybe I should just call it a trip novel??

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  3. Thank you for your review, and I'm sorry you feel the characters lacked something. This is the first bad review it's gotten, so I will pay close attention to what you suggest about the characters, especially about Rachel being rescued too often. I hope to improve with book nine next year! Thanks again for the honest words. - Kristen

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    1. It's very mature of you to take my constructive criticism to heart instead of sending me hate mail! Others have not been so kind :) Just for the record, I don't consider this a "bad" review. I'm a VERY picky reader -- a C+ is actually a decent grade from me. Overall, I did enjoy the book and I would definitely pick up another of yours. Thanks for your comment!

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