Readers of historical romance are often particular about the facts in a story and Dorothy Love meets the reader's needs well in her latest novel, Beauty for Ashes, providing carefully-researched, specific details on life in post-Civil War Tennessee. The picture she paints of a small town struggling to survive the loss of businesses, crops, homes, and most of its young men is realistic and painfully honest. It is the perfect setting for the story of a young woman trying to cope with tremendous loss and accept and appreciate the life that she's been given.
The Romance in Beauty for Ashes
Carrie Daly is a proud, determined woman who has worked alongside her older brother on the family farm since her husband died in the Civil War. It is a difficult life, but Carrie is comfortable with her daily routine. She is not, however, comfortable with change. When her brother, Henry, decides to marry his decision does not sit well with Carrie who emotionally rejects Henry's new bride and her two rambunctious children.
The solution to Carrie's dilemma would seem to be an easy one. Carrie is engaged to local bookstore owner Nate Chastain. She could marry Nate and have a home of her own, but for reasons she cannot quite understand, she is unable to set a wedding date. When Charleston horse trainer Griff Rutledge comes to town, and like a true Southern gentleman offers assistance when needed to the struggling young widow, Carrie's reasons for avoiding marriage to Nate eventually become more obvious.
Carrie Daly and Griff Rutledge
Carrie Daly is an interesting and realistic character with flaws, weaknesses, and a life that presents a never-ending supply of challenges that she must overcome. Her greatest weakness is a tendency to find fault in others combined with a stubborn refusal to admit that her judgmental behavior is contributing to the escalating conflicts in her life and her continuous disappointments. She experiences many such disappointments and a great deal of emotional pain before she finally begins to recognize that her judgments placed on those around her are often harsh, unfair, and unreasonable.
The relationship between Carrie and Griff may be challenging for the reader to understand, at first. Carrie is not presented in the best light for much of the novel with her constant criticism of those around her, though she does keep her criticisms to herself, for the most part. At one point, she refuses to help her brother at a time when she is desperately needed because she cannot set her pride aside and admit that she may have been partially to blame for the tension in her family. On the other hand, she is generous with her baking services, assisting those less fortunate in town even when she is barely able to support herself.
Griff Rutledge is a man of mystery for most of the novel and it is not until the story nears the end that his secrets are revealed. His patience with Carrie's stubborn, prideful behavior seems to encourage Carrie to change. It also enables her to accept a man that few others in town are willing to allow into their lives due to prejudice and suspicion--behavior that is perfectly understandable considering the financially depressed times and atmosphere of distrust following the American Civil War.
Dorothy Love and the Hickory Ridge Romance Series
Dorothy Love has once again captured the beauty of the American South with her vivid descriptions and complex characters in the Hickory Ridge Series of Christian romance novels. Beauty for Ashes is the second in this series, following the well-received Beyond All Measure. The third novel in this series, Every Perfect Gift, is scheduled for release in Fall of 2012. Although she now calls the Texas Hill Country her home, Dorothy Love is a native of Tennessee and sets all of her novels in the Smoky Mountain region.
- Love, Dorothy. Beauty for Ashes. Thomas Nelson. Nashville, Tennessee: 2012. ISBN: 978-I-59554-901-3
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