Grace and the Preacher by Kim Vogel Sawyer
Published by Waterbrook and Multnomah Publishers March 21, 2017
Genre: Historical Fiction, Christian, Romance
Rating: 4 out of 5 stars
Mistaken identity leads to romance, laughter, and second chances in this inspirational historical romance.
At the age of twenty-three, postmistress Grace Cristler has all but given up hope of finding a husband among the narrowing group of eligible men in her town of Fairland, Kansas. But when her uncle decides to retire from the pulpit, Grace is responsible for corresponding with the new preacher set to take his place. She can’t deny the affection growing in her heart for Reverend Rufus Dille—a man she deeply admires but has only met through his letters.
Theophil Garrison is on the run from his past. Ten years ago his outlaw cousins convinced him to take part in a train robbery, but Theo fled the scene, leaving his cousins to face imprisonment. Now they’ve finished their sentences, but the plan for vengeance has just begun. Branded a coward and running for his life, Theo has aa chance encounter that could provide him with the escape he needs.
But the young man’s desperate con might come at an enormous price for the tenderhearted Grace—and the entire town. Will Grace’s undeserved affection and God’s mercy make something beautiful from the ashes of Theo’s past?
Kim Vogel Sawyer brings to her readers a sweet story of assumed identity that leads to unexpected love and forgiveness in the small town of Fairland, Kansas.
Kim Vogel Sawyer has long be a favorite of mine as she writes such good stories with characters that you would love to know in real life. This story was another such story that made me wish for small town life and someone to cook all the delicious foods that were described within the pages. I won’t say that this was my most favorite book I’ve read lately as it was a little slow in its plot progression and didn’t have as much of the humor I had expected to see but it really was a well written story that will touch the heart of every person who reads it. Ms. Sawyer begins her story with a man named Theophil Garrison who has left his home with his aunt and uncle as his cousins are coming back home. This isn’t normally a reason for leaving your home but Theophil’s cousins are out for revenge since he refused to help them in their attempt to rob a gold shipment 10 years earlier, leading to their arrest and subsequent time in jail. So he’s headed to the only other home he remembers in Iowa to hide out until he can plan his next move. But God has other plans for Theophil and they are brought about by a dying preacher on his way to Fairland, Kansas. The preacher’s name is Rufus Dille and he is expected by the people of Fairland to take the place of their long time pastor and friend, Philemon Cristler, who is retiring at the end of the month. Theophil comes across Rufus and takes him as quickly as possible to the nearest town doctor, but it is too late as Rufus is dying from cholera. Charged with Rufus Dille’s possessions and a message for the people of Fairland, Theophil will make a detour into Fairland to relay the news of Rufus Dille’s death. But when he arrives and they all assume he is their new pastor, Theophil finds something that he was looking for all his life: a place to belong with people that like him. And all it will take to remain in Fairland is for Theophil to become Reverend Rufus Dille. Grace Cristler has been anticipating the arrival of Reverend Dille for more than a month. What began as communication for her uncle Philemon to the new pastor has become a close friendship through letters – a friendship that has Grace hoping it will develop into something much more. When the new pastor arrives, he is very handsome and kind but not exactly who Grace was expecting. For one thing, he is not as eloquent in his speech as his letters had been, and for another, he doesn’t seem to be very comfortable with his ministerial duties. But Grace’s friend Bess Kirby reminds her that he had much time to write out his letters and make them sound just right and he is still a very young pastor who simply lacks the experience that leading a church of his own will bring. As Theophil works to become the pastor the town needs, he will find himself learning more and more of the Bible and how it applies to people’s lives. And as both he and Grace spend time together they will find that the love and acceptance they have both been looking for is right in front of them. They will need this love to carry them through when one of Theophil’s cousins comes to town to reveal his duplicity. Grace will have to decide if she will hold the hurt she feels closer to her heart than the love that she has for Theophil or if she will offer the forgiveness she has been taught her whole life to give. Her decision will be what will either bring them together or keep them apart. Ms. Sawyer’s characters are given such real and relatable personalities that I would have loved to have known them as actual people and not fictional characters. And not just her main characters either, the supporting characters are just as funny and apt to teach a lesson as those who are the main focus. The lessons are taught with a dose of humor which makes the faith challenges a bit round-a-bout but still readily understood. I really loved the character of Theophil who was seeking a place to belong and although he assumed Rufus Dille’s identity he truly sought to learn and live a life that would be pleasing to God. His bumbling first attempts at preaching sermon and doing pastoral duties made me laugh and feel a bit sorry for him. I’m not one for giving speeches either and to know that I was supposed to be teaching all those people the Word of God and be responsible for their Spiritual well-being would be daunting indeed. But this situation was good for Theophil to be able to study and learn what God expected of him both as a pastor and as a man. The relatively quick forgiveness of the town’s people was a good lesson too as we should all be so willing to offer forgiveness when it is sincerely sought. So while it was not the most in depth or exciting book, the story was one I would certainly recommend to others as it was a very nice read. I will also be looking forward to Ms. Sawyer’s next works as I know they will be good stories with both humor and heart.
I received this E-book free of charge from Waterbrook and Multnomah Publishers via NetGalley in exchange for a fair and honest review. I will receive no fiscal compensation from either of these companies for this review and the opinions expressed herein are entirely my own.