Release Date: June 2013
Publisher: Bethany House
Pages: 347 pages
Source & Format: NetGalley; e-ARC
Amazon | Goodreads
Summary (from Goodreads)
On his way to interview for a position at a church in the Piney Woods of Texas, Crockett Archer can scarcely believe it when he's forced off the train by a retired outlaw and presented to the man's daughter as the minister she requested for her birthday. Worried this unfortunate detour will ruin his chances of finally serving a congregation of his own, Crockett is determine to escape. But when he finally gets away, he's haunted by the memory of the young woman he left behind - a woman whose dreams now hinge on him.
For months, Joanna Robbins prayed for a preacher. A man to breathe life back into the abandoned church at the heart of her community. A man to assist her in fulfilling a promise to her dying mother. A man to help her discover answers to the questions that have been on her heart for so long. But just when it seems God has answered her prayers, it turns out the person is there against his will and has dreams of his own calling him elsewhere. Is there any way she can convince Crockett to stay in her little backwoods community? And does the attraction between them have any chance of blossoming when Joanna's outlaw father is dead set against his daughter courting a preacher?
Thoughts on Stealing the Preacher
I have a soft spot for Christian historical fiction, and I first discovered Karen Witemeyer in 2011. I've since read all of her books and have enjoyed the sweet romances. Stealing the Preacher, her newest book, continues the story of one of the characters introduced in her previous book, Short-Straw Bride. Readers first met Crockett Archer in the previous book, but they are able to truly see him come into his own in Stealing the Preacher.
Crockett is the brother that wanted to be a preacher and the one that helped his brothers grow spiritually. Now on his own, he's headed to a church for the chance to finally lead his own congregation. His train his held up by bandits, but it's not ordinary robbery. They're stealing the preacher!
Silas Robbins made a promise to his daughter, Joanna, and he's not going to let her down. She wanted a preacher, and he's ready to provide one by any means necessary. Crockett is willing to hear Joanna out, and he discovers why she's so desperate for a pastor that can help her bring her father to faith.
Personally, I didn't really love this beginning. Something about it just didn't ring true, and it sort of left me wanting a little more from the book as a whole. Silas Robbins is wary of Christians and preachers in particular. He's had a bad experience with them in the past, and he wants nothing to do with them now. But everything about Crockett confuses him. Crockett is a hard worker, and he stands up for himself and what he believes.
Of course, circumstances bring Crockett back to the Robbins' ranch... and you'll have to read the book to find out what happens from there!
This was my least favorite of Witemeyer's books, but I think it's because I wasn't really connecting to the conflict in the story. I liked that Crockett was a cowboy preacher and that Joanna was so mature and grounded in her faith, so it wasn't that I didn't like the characters. I think that it just felt somewhat predictable at times, so I felt like I always had an idea of what was coming.
There was only one aspect I truly disliked, and it involved the difference between the two main female characters. Joanna is presented as perfect and the very picture of purity, and Holly (another young lady) is depicted as conniving, selfish, and basically wicked. I disliked that they seemed like such black and white characters. It seemed very much like the angel versus the fallen woman, and it didn't really sit well with me.
The other central tension in the book is the story of Silas and his lack of faith. I found this aspect of the plot more enjoyable and realistic. While it was still somewhat predictable, I liked the discussion about and focus on telling the truth and trusting God. Both of these issues are at the heart of Silas' story, which I found much less problematic than the other conflict in the story.
While it's a book I found a little lacking, I did like this story overall. It was entertaining, and I think fans of Witemeyer or Christian historical fiction will enjoy it.
"Why was it that thoughts and plans always made more sense when confined to one's mind than when they exited one's mouth?"
*I received a copy of this book from Bethany House in exchange for an honest review. I was not compensated in any way for my review.