Christmas at Dove Creek by Scarlett Dunn – Book Review

Christmas at Dove Creek  By  Scarlett Dunn

Published By  Kensington Books   October 25, 2016

Genres:  Christian Romance

Pages:  352

Rating: 3 out of 5 stars

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Publisher’s Description

With snow on the prairie and the stars heralding new hope, it’s the season for the lost to find their way home—and love to unite solitary hearts…

She rides like an angel and she’s a crack shot. And Lily Starr is determined to shepherd a helpless group of outcasts from Missouri to Wyoming by Christmas—including a pregnant woman whose blessed event is drawing near. So encountering handsome Thorpe Turlow along the dangerous trail is a welcome unexpected gift, for he’s as formidable as he is reserved. Besides, understanding this gentle, secretly wounded man is another challenge Lily isn’t about to resist…

After the heartbreak he’s found, Thorpe just wants to retreat to his peaceful Dove Creek ranch. But he’s never met anyone as resourceful and straightforward as Lily. Somehow, she’s reigniting his faith and giving him the courage to trust again. And if they survive the arduous trip ahead, he’ll do whatever it takes to give her a lifetime of joy and love…

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Story Notes

Scarlett Dunn’s story of a miss-matched group of travelers seeking to make the journey from Missouri to Wyoming headed by the fearless Lily Starr is one of thrilling adventure but left this reader a little disappointed.

I’m going to be a little harsh with this review – there were just some things in this story that did not agree with me. Its not often that I get this picky about these things but I would have really loved this book if they didn’t throw me off. First, no offense to anyone with this name, but the name Thorpe just does not a romantic name make. I am used to authors putting unusual names in books but this was not a good fit in my opinion. It puts me in mind of a hulking bully type man who uses his fists more than his brain and this is not ideal when starting a romance. How many people can imagine sighing “Oh, Thorpe…” without immediately bursting out into laughter?……that would not be me. Second, I know Ms. Dunn was intending to show that everyone makes mistakes but I was not okay that she had Lily be so completely fine with Thorpe’s affair with his ex-fiance. I would not be one to hold past mistakes against someone but Thorpe didn’t really show any true remorse for what happened, just thought it was a waste of time to regret it – and Lily just accepted this with no problem. Perhaps this fictional character is better than I but I would have liked it better if she had pointed him to God to seek true forgiveness. Further, I never felt that Thorpe was ever really shown as a Christian. If this is supposed to be a Christian Romance I expect the main characters in the story to be, or at some point in the story become, just that – Christians. Ms Dunn tells of his attending church and going to see the pastor to ask him to marry Thorpe and Lily but there was very little to indicate his spiritual state. Third, I found some of the phrases and thoughts that Ms Dunn wrote for Thorpe in relation to Lily to be a little to risque for this type of book. Having a character tell another that he “wanted her” rather than saying he loved her, writing that two characters were exhausted after their wedding night, and that a character “couldn’t keep his hands off his new bride” is just too crude and descriptive for my liking. I would have loved for Ms. Dunn to preserve more of the specialness of the deep relationship married couples share by not having her readers imagination sparked by these phrases. Fourth, I did not like the way that whiskey flowed pretty freely throughout the book. It was like it was expected of every man to want to drink whenever they sat down for conversation. I’m not going to tell people whether or not they should drink but I do think Thorpe’s familiarity with drink is what led him to attempt to seduce Lily one night at his ranch. Again, not in keeping with a “Christian” book. And finally, I found it a little odd that this book was called “Christmas at Dove Creek” but the majority of the book took place in the Fall and only the last 50 pages were at Christmas and at Dove Creek Ranch. Perhaps Ms. Dunn should have chosen a more appropriate title.

There were many things that I did like in this book, however, and I wanted to share some of them as well. I found Lily’s kindness to all who crossed her path to be really great. She was non-judgemental towards everyone no matter their treatment of her or their past mistakes. Ms. Dunn created a very lovely Christ-like character in her and she is why I finished the story.  I also was intrigued by the relationship that Lily had with the wolf Blue who had become her companion and defender. It is unusual for a wolf to want to remain with humans rather than fend for itself and I liked how Ms. Dunn had Blue be the one Lily depended on until Thorpe came along to take his place. I also liked how Blue was the one to find and return Lily’s grandfather to her. Her grandfather’s story of having and caring for a wolf of his own when he was a boy came full-circle in Blue’s devotion to Lily. The adventurous parts of this book were very well written and the best part of the story I thought. Each confrontation and chase was appropriately descriptive and thrilling and I was glad to see that Ms. Dunn allowed her heroine to have equal skill in defending others as did the hero. Its not often that an author chooses to make her heroine skilled in weaponry and I was glad to see Ms. Dunn take this risk that paid off in her writing. Lastly, I really liked Lily’s true faith and willingness to share God’s love with others. Lily wanted everyone to know they were loved and cared about no matter their mistakes and she was never pushy in her sharing of her beliefs. Ms. Dunn showed how Christians should treat others through Lily and it reminded me to be kind and caring when I speak with others of my beliefs. But, although these are some of the redeeming qualities in this book, I would be hesitant to recommend it to others without telling them of my issues with the story. I will have to consider whether or not to purchase this book for my shelves in the future.

I received this E-book from Kensington Books via NetGalley in exchange for a fair and honest review. I will receive no fiscal compensation from either company for this review.

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