Wednesday, July 25, 2012

Review: Beauty for Ashes by Dorothy Love

From the Back Cover:

She's a beautiful young widow. He's a Southern gentleman with a thirst for adventure. Both need a place to call home.

After losing her husband in the Civil War, Carrie Daly is scared she will never have the family she longs for. Eligible bachelors are scarce in Hickory Ridge, Tennessee, but Carrie has found love. Not the weak-in-the-knees kind, but something practical. Still, she isn't quite ready to set a wedding date with Nate Chastain.

Griff Rutledge is a former member of Charleston society, but has been estranged from his family for years. He's determined to remain unattached, never settling in one place for too long. But when asked to train a Thoroughbred for an upcoming race in Hickory Ridge, he decides to stay awhile.

Despite objections from the townsfolk, and her fear that true happiness has eluded her, Carrie is drawn to Griff's kindness and charm. It will take a leap of faith for them to open their hearts and claim God's promise to give beauty for ashes.

My Thoughts:

Carrie Daly's life over the past ten years has not been particularly exciting, but it has been stable and satisfying. But two events are about to turn her neat and ordered world upside down: her brother’s marriage and the arrival of Griff Rutledge, a handsome stranger with a reputation as a scoundrel who’s come to train a horse for a race intended to draw tourists and their money into town. Ever since Carrie’s husband died fighting in the Civil War, Carrie has lived with her brother Henry, helping him take care of the family farm. But when his prissy new bride Mary and her hell-raising children move in, Carrie realizes she’s got to move out before she goes crazy or kills somebody. She moves into the run-down ladies’ hotel in Hickory Ridge and tries to earn her keep by cleaning and baking. She also tries hard not to fall for Griff’s dashing smile and risk-taking personality, but the women of society in Hickory Ridge condemn her anyway for behavior they deem inappropriate.

The entire country is held in the grip of depression, but times are even tougher in Hickory Ridge. Henry leaves for a job opportunity in Chicago and Carrie reluctantly agrees to move back to his house to help care for the farm and for Mary, who is in the midst of a difficult pregnancy. It’s a hard spot for Carrie to be in. Mary treats her like a servant and her children are incorrigible. Cutesy kids in novels get on my nerves, but the two little boys who take over Carrie's life are little hellions! They make for some interesting reading, especially as Carrie makes an attempt to get to know them better and realizes how tough they’ve had it. Griff helps her out in that respect, coming by the farm as often as he can under the guise of helping two women in need, but really he can’t stay away from Carrie. It’s a new feeling for him, and he begins to question whether he’ll still go through with his plans to leave town after the big horse race. And he’s not sure if Carrie can handle the secrets he’s hiding.

I'm torn a bit on my rating for this one, because, on the one hand, it's very well-written and the depiction of small-town southern life is fantastic. The fact that the town has fallen on hard times makes it all the more realistic and poignant. I was transported to Hickory Ridge while reading this book. On the other hand, the characters and the storyline are not particularly memorable. I had hoped the story would concentrate more on the horse-racing aspect than it did. It was a nice read, but the romance wasn’t swoon-worthy and it didn’t stand out to me as being better than any other inspirational historicals I’ve read recently. But there were a couple of surprises in the story and I thought the inspirational theme was nicely done and tied in very well with the plot. So good writing wins out, especially given the number of authors laughing their way to the bank these days on the backs of terrible novels.

My Rating: 4 Stars out of 5

*Please Note: This review references an advance copy received from the publisher through the Amazon Vine program. These are my unbiased opinions and I was not compensated in any other way for reviewing this book.


  1. This seems like a sweet romance, which are hit and miss for me because sometimes I really want the swoon-worthy romance.

    1. The romance was not the strongest part of this novel. Still a good read, but I like to swoon, too!

  2. I have not heard of this one- but I do enjoy HF. It sounds like a good book and I am happy to hear that it is well written. Your review was very helpful.


  3. I'm with Laura on the sweet romances, but I am drawn by the underlying story. Thanks for a great review; I'll keep an eye out for this one.


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