The Dove

Carolyn Brown
2008, Inspirational Romance (1900s Texas)
Avalon, $23.95, 224 pages, Amazon ASIN 0803499078

Grade: D
Sensuality: Kisses

I adore stories in which lovers get a second chance at finding their way to one another. With that in mind, I gladly picked up The Dove expecting a wonderful story of young lovers separated and then given a second chance together. Unfortunately, the petulant behavior of the hero and a heroine far too modern and brazen for her time made this book a clunker for me.

To say that Katy Lynn Logan had to deal with difficult circumstances would be an understatement. Before her early death, her mother had a reputation as the town hussy and her father drank heavily. When Katy also lost her father at eighteen, she had very few friends to support her. Her father's lifelong friend, Andy, always acted as her surrogate father and she knew she could count on him. She also thought she could rely on her beloved Joshua Carter. However, Joshua came to the graveside only to tell Katy that not only was he going East for college, but that he wanted nothing further to do with her as he was certain she'd only end up living in a shack married to a drunk.

Joshua returns to the small town of Spanish Fort as a preacher seven years later. Not surprisingly, Katy finds herself less than thrilled to see him. She has managed to make something of herself in the time since he broke her heart, and this gives her no small measure of pride. Katy had a small sum available to her after her father's death and with Andy's help, she and a couple of school friends invested wisely, now finding themselves the owner of a general store and The Soiled Dove Saloon. However, Joshua hurt her deeply and she finds it difficult to even speak to him.

Joshua has no idea of Katy's success when he returns to Spanish Fort. He knows only that he is shocked to see Katy scandalously dressed and sitting in a saloon. It is not until later that he learns of her business success. Even so, he still has a certain suspicion of her, and is deeply surprised to find her attending his church. He has no intention of rekindling his love for her, but finds himself attracted in spite of himself.

While both characters in this book frustrated me, Joshua and his judgmental attitudes bothered me the most. His beliefs concerning women in saloons fit with the time, but the manner in which he applies these beliefs to his dealings with Katy smacks of shallowness and a distinct lack of charity. He had known of Katy's difficult past since they were children together, but after enjoying their time courting one another, he turned on her and seems still to judge her. While he eventually learns about Katy's business interests and her current character, he continues to mix his affection with an ill-conceived sense of somehow being better than she is.

In any human being I would find such attitudes infuriating. In a supposed minister of the gospel, such behavior runs contrary to the teachings of the Lord he has sworn to follow. Ministers make mistakes just like everyone else, but I kept waiting to see Joshua realize what he had done and ask Katy's forgiveness. The author made me wait far too long for this moment, and this plotting mistake effectively colored the main relationship with all manner of negative emotions throughout the majority of the book.

The anachronistic attitudes of the various characters in this book also distract the reader from the story. While the story makes use of such details as Katy's need to have Andy front all of her business dealings because of the situation faced by women in society at that time, the author then has her characters speaking in very modern fashion. In addition, Katy plays the piano in a saloon while wearing racy outfits and rural society somehow manages not to be scandalized. While American life changed a great deal at the turn of the 20th century, Katy and her friends still place themselves far ahead of the mainstream without seeming to suffer the consequences of such choices.

Though the story does have a few winning moments and occasional snatches of dialogue that made me smile, The Dove otherwise contains little to warrant to rather high price asked for it. Inspirationals have evolved a great deal in recent years, and readers have a plethora of great choices awaiting them. I would advise skipping this one, and searching out some of the other inspirationals, some of which are reviewed on this site.

-- Lynn Spencer

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