Category: Old West Americana

Book Review | “The Lost Girl” by Liz Harris #ChocLitSaturdays

Posted Saturday, 15 April, 2017 by jorielov , , 0 Comments

ChocLitSaturdays Banner Created by Jorie in Canva.

Why I feature #ChocLitSaturdays (book reviews & guest author features)
and created #ChocLitSaturday (the chat via @ChocLitSaturday):

I wanted to create a bit of a niche on Jorie Loves A Story to showcase romance fiction steeped in relationships, courtships, and the breadth of marriage enveloped by characters written honestly whose lives not only endear you to them but they nestle into your heart as their story is being read!

I am always seeking relationship-based romance which strikes a chord within my mind’s eye as well as my heart! I’m a romantic optimist, and I love curling into a romance where I can be swept inside the past, as history becomes lit alive in the fullness of the narrative and I can wander amongst the supporting cast observing the principal characters fall in love and sort out if they are a proper match for each other!

I love how an Indie Publisher like ChocLitUK is such a positive alternative for those of us who do not identify ourselves as girls and women who read ‘chick-lit’. I appreciate the stories which alight in my hands from ChocLit as much as I appreciate the inspirational romances I gravitate towards because there is a certain level of depth to both outlets in romance which encourage my spirits and gives me a beautiful story to absorb! Whilst sorting out how promote my book reviews on behalf of ChocLit, I coined the phrase “ChocLitSaturdays”, which is a nod to the fact my ChocLit reviews & features debut on ‘a Saturday’ but further to the point that on the ‘weekend’ we want to dip into a world wholly ideal and romantic during our hours off from the work week!

Coffee and Tea Clip Art Set purchased on Etsy; made by rachelwhitetoo.

Acquired Book By: I am a regular reviewer for ChocLitUK, where I hand select which books in either their backlist and/or current releases I would like to read next for my #ChocLitSaturdays blog feature. As of June 2016, I became a member of the ChocLit Stars Team in tandem with being on the Cover Reveal Team which I joined in May 2016. I reference the Stars as this is a lovely new reader contribution team of sending feedback to the publisher ahead of new book releases. As always, even if I’m involved with a publisher in this sort of fashion, each review is never influenced by that participation and will always be my honest impression as I read the story. Whether the author is one I have previously read or never had the pleasure to read until the book greets my shelf.

I received a complimentary copy of “The Lost Girl” from ChocLit in exchange for an honest review! I did not receive compensation for my opinions or thoughts shared herein.

Coffee and Tea Clip Art Set purchased on Etsy; made by rachelwhitetoo.

I wasn’t surprised that Ms Harris tackled another hard-hitting dramatic story-line in her new book The Lost Girl as I have previously come to find she has a way of elevating historical fiction to an emotional keel of clarity. There is a richness to her stories – she dares to capitalise on the emotional heart of her character’s journey; even within the pages of A Bargain Struck this was true, and she did it by taking a seemingly ordinary story-line and moulding it into such a convicting story of life, love and second chances.

Harris has a way to broaching History with such a refinement of shaping the past through a lens of eloquence and clarity, that you simply devour her stories. I appreciate finding an author whose not only dedicated to research but dedicated to writing the stories she’s most passionate telling to a readership whose thankful she’s writing her heart out. – originally shared on the cover reveal for this novel

Dear hearts, I have truly been itching to read this particular release by Ms Harris for well over a year! I learnt about bits of the story whilst chatting during #ChocLitSaturday and the more I would learn about the heart of this novel, the more I dearly wanted to read it! I was meant to receive this towards the close of 2016 – as the paperback release was originally flying into reader’s hands at the close of last Summer. However, it took a bit longer for this lovely novel to reach me – not that I mind! I have always felt that books reach us when we’re meant to read their stories – how are we to know which is the better time to read any particular story if we are moved by it’s chapters and it’s pearls of insights at the moment we’re tucked inside it’s pages? Reading is quite the journey – we never know which story will alight on our path or when we’re itching to read any particular story, but sometimes, we get advanced word about a story (such as this one) which simply touches our soul.

I personally love stories of immigration and adoption; these are two overlapping themes which do have the tendency of appearing through my readerly life time and time again. It’s because the two themes are quite close to my heart; my family has a strong background of ancestral emigration as much as I will be adopting out of foster care in the future. There are so many different paths to highlight both of these themes, and one thing I have credited to Ms Harris with in her previous releases for Historicals is the touching manner in which she hones in on the heart of her character’s story whilst grounding her Historical Fiction in the truism of the moment in which the story is placed to be set in History. She offers a connective threshold of emotions and timeless aspirations for finding one’s purpose and passageway through life’s ordeals. One of the reasons I love her Historicals so very much is how she interconnects the reader and her character as if the two are entwined. It’s wicked brilliant to find Historicals which feel as if you’ve left your reality and exchanged it for another person’s life if only for the expanse of the novel; but in so doing, we humbly expand our empathy, our compassion and our worldview.

Coffee and Tea Clip Art Set purchased on Etsy; made by rachelwhitetoo.

On my Connection to Ms. Harris:

I have been hosting #ChocLitSaturday chats on a regular basis for a bit over two years now. Eleven in the morning of a Saturday, has become a favourite hour for me to exchange conversation and joy with everyone who shows up to participate in a chat centered around ChocLit novels and the Romance branch of literature in general.

Similar to my previous thoughts I shared about Ms. Courtenay, I have come to appreciate chatting with Ms. Harris, either through #ChocLitSaturdays chats or privately. She is most giving of her time and I have appreciated the opportunity to know the writer behind the stories I enjoy reading! She always shares her happy spirit in the chats too, and her insights into why she enjoys writing the books that speak to her the most.

I am disclosing this, to assure you that I can formulate an honest opinion, even though I have interacted with Harris through our respective love & passion of reading inside the twitterverse whilst I host #ChocLitSaturday the chat as well as privately; I treat each book as a ‘new experience’, whether I personally know the author OR whether I am reading a book by them for the first time. Similarly this applies to spotlighting new books by an author I appreciate such as this one.

Coffee and Tea Clip Art Set purchased on Etsy; made by rachelwhitetoo.

I’m sharing both the paperback cover & the ebook cover, as I’m still a bit partial to the ebook cover, even though I respectively understand it’s not as representative of the story as much as the print book cover encompasses. I’m hoping after I’ve read the novel, I can make my final assessment, as ahead of reading it – I still lean towards the first cover. Therefore, the cover featuring the ‘small towne’ is the one on the print release.

The Lost Girl
by Liz Harris
Source: Direct from Publisher

What if you were trapped between two cultures?

Life is tough in 1870s Wyoming. But it’s tougher still when you’re a girl who looks Chinese but speaks like an American.

Orphaned as a baby and taken in by an American family, Charity Walker knows this only too well. The mounting tensions between the new Chinese immigrants and the locals in the mining town of Carter see her shunned by both communities.

When Charity’s one friend, Joe, leaves town, she finds herself isolated. However, in his absence, a new friendship with the only other Chinese girl in Carter makes her feel like she finally belongs somewhere.

But, for a lost girl like Charity, finding a place to call home was never going to be that easy…

Places to find the book:

Borrow from a Public Library

Add to Riffle

Add to LibraryThing

Book Page on ChocLitUK

ISBN: 9781781893012

Also by this author: A Bargain Struck, Guest Post (A Western Heart) by Liz Harris, Guest Post (The Road Back) by Liz Harris, The Road Back, Book Spotlight w/ Notes (The Lost Girl), Evie Undercover, Guest Post (The Lost Girl) by Liz Harris, The Art of Deception

Genres: Emigration & Immigration, Historical Fiction, Historical Romance, Modern British Literature, Realistic Fiction, Western Fiction


Published by ChocLitUK

on 22nd February, 2017

Format: UK Edition Paperback

Published by: ChocLitUK (@ChocLitUK)

Formats Available: Paperback & Ebook

Genre(s): Historical Fiction | Western | Adoption | Chinese-American ancestry

Coffee and Tea Clip Art Set purchased on Etsy; made by rachelwhitetoo.

Liz Harris

Liz was born in London and now lives in South Oxfordshire with her husband. After graduating from university with a Law degree, she moved to California where she led a varied life, trying her hand at everything from cocktail waitressing on Sunset Strip to working as secretary to the CEO of a large Japanese trading company, not to mention a stint as ‘resident starlet’ at MGM. On returning to England, Liz completed a degree in English and taught for a number of years before developing her writing career.

Liz’s debut novel, The Road Back, won a Book of the Year Award from Coffee Time Romance in the USA and her second novel A Bargain Struck was shortlisted for the Romantic Novel of the Year Award.

Author Connections:

 Personal Site | Blog | Facebook | Twitter

Converse via: #TheLostGirl & #ChocLit Read More

Reading this book contributed to these challenges:

  • 2017 Historical Fiction Reading Challenge
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Posted Saturday, 15 April, 2017 by jorielov in 19th Century, Adoption, American Old West, Blog Tour Host & Reviewer, British Literature, Chinese Literature, ChocLitUK, Coming-Of Age, Compassion & Acceptance of Differences, Cultural & Religious Traditions, Equality In Literature, Family Drama, Farm and Ranching on the Frontier, Herbalist, Historical Fiction, Historical Romance, Immigrant Stories, Indie Author, Multi-cultural Characters and/or Honest Representations of Ethnicity, Multicultural Marriages & Families, Old West Americana, Orphans & Guardians, Passionate Researcher, Political Narrative & Modern Topics, Realistic Fiction, Siblings, Small Towne Fiction, Small Towne USA, Social Change, Stories of Adoption, Taboo Relationships & Romance, Western Fiction, World Religions

Blog Book Tour | “Courting Carrie in Wonderland” by Carla Kelly

Posted Sunday, 26 March, 2017 by jorielov , , , 0 Comments

Book Review Banner using Unsplash.com (Creative Commons Zero) Photography by Frank McKenna

Acquired Book By: I am a regular tour hostess for blog tours via Cedar Fort whereupon I am thankful to have such a diverse amount of novels and non-fiction titles to choose amongst to host. I received a complimentary copy of “Courting Carrie in Wonderland” direct from the publisher Sweetwater Books (imprint of Cedar Fort, Inc) in exchange for an honest review. I did not receive compensation for my opinions or thoughts shared herein.

Why I personally love soaking inside a Carla Kelly Historical:

Carla Kelly shines her soulful grace of the craft of story-telling within this novel, which accomplishes much more at it’s core than merely telling us a story wrought out of the Western genre within the folds of a Historical Fiction. No, this novel seeks a gentle truth towards telling a story rooted in the realism between the continental divides of race, identity, and personal worth as related to station, lifestyle, and locale. She interweaves a gentle hand of guidance within the minds of her characters, but it is how each of her characters bespeak of their innermost beliefs I found endeared me the most to the novel itself.

Kelly has captured my heart for the American West and given me a novel fully supported of cultural integrity and diversity of spirit, soul, heart, and the pursuit of finding your own path when life gives you an intercession of pause to choose how you want to live rather than having a life dictated to you.

-quoted from my first reading of a Carla Kelly novel in 2014 on behalf of ‘Softly Falling’

And, I had the pleasure of reading a second novel by her in 2015:

She has such a wicked clever wit about her dialogue and the conversational exchanges she induces her characters to evolve inside, I find myself happily immersed in her novels post haste! As reflected when I had read Softly Falling I fell so close to the lead characters, I had not begged to exit the story anytime soon! She draws you in with her command of setting and timescape; as this story Summer Campaign held within it all the ferocity of a Jane Austen novel set around the period of time in a young woman’s life where she has become the object of marriageable age.

-quoted from my reading of ‘Summer Campaign’

You can see why I was excited about the prospect of reading a ‘third’ Carla Kelly novel! There have been a few of her novels which have toured which I passed over reading – either the story-line was outside my comfort zone (ie. The Civil War era) or I simply did not have the free time I wished I could have had to consume it. One thing is for certain, I will be spending many a moon in the future seeking out her titles and enjoying the journey I take into her collective works! For awhile now, I have simply felt blessed and overjoyed in finding a few of her novels have been available to review on blog tours! It’s become such a delightful way to be ‘introduced’ to her characters and the different periods of the historic past she loves to write about!

Fun Stuff for Your Blog via pureimaginationblog.com

Blog Book Tour | “Courting Carrie in Wonderland” by Carla KellyCourting Carrie in Wonderland
Subtitle: Is Kissing Against Army Regulations?
by Carla Kelly
Source: Direct from Publisher

Mercy, he was a fool for this woman. Why on earth had Major Pitcher told him to look for a wife? This was more trouble and heartache than he needed right now since his affairs had suddenly turned south.

Struggling through college and balancing her summer job with the Wylie Camping Company, Carrie simply doesn't have time to consider romance. War veteran Sergeant Major Ramsay Stiles isn't looking for love either because of his own complicated job. But as the magic of Yellowstone Park makes its way into their hearts, both see love making its way up their priority lists.

Places to find the book:

Borrow from a Public Library

Add to Riffle

Add to LibraryThing

ISBN: 9781462118724

Also by this author: Softly Falling, Summer Campaign, A Season of Love

Genres: Historical Fiction, Historical Romance


Published by Sweetwater Books

on 1st March, 2017

Format: Paperback Edition

Pages: 391

Published By: Sweetwater Books (@SweetwaterBooks),

an imprint of Cedar Fort, Inc (@CedarFortBooks)
Available Formats: Paperback, Ebook

Converse on Twitter via: #CarlaKelly

About Carla Kelly

Carla Kelly is a veteran of the New York and international publishing world. The author of more than thirty novels and novellas for Donald I. Fine Co., Signet, and Harlequin, Carla is the recipient of two Rita Awards (think Oscars for romance writing) from Romance Writers of America and two Spur Awards (think Oscars for western fiction) from Western Writers of America. She is also a recipient of a Whitney Award for Borrowed Light, My Loving Vigil Keeping and Softly Falling.

Photo Credit: Marie Bryner-Bowles, Bryner Photography

Read More

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Posted Sunday, 26 March, 2017 by jorielov in #JorieLovesIndies, 20th Century, Bits & Bobbles of Jorie, Blog Tour Host & Reviewer, Cedar Fort Publishing & Media, Flashbacks & Recollective Memories, Historical Fiction, Horse Drama & Fiction, Indie Author, Inspirational Fiction & Non-Fiction, Life of Thirty-Somethings, Military Fiction, Nature & Wildlife, Old West Americana, PTSD, Singletons & Commitment, The Natural World, the Nineteen Hundreds, Walking & Hiking Trails, Western Fiction, Wilderness Adventures, Wyoming

Blog Book Tour | For Steele’s sophomore release (“#SodaSprings”) she’s knit us inside a wicked lovely Western where Hope guides the characters towards redeeming the Light of their lives!

Posted Tuesday, 22 December, 2015 by jorielov , , , 0 Comments

Ruminations & Impressions Book Review Banner created by Jorie in Canva. Photo Credit: Unsplash Public Domain Photographer Sergey Zolkin.

Acquired Book By: 

I am a regular tour hostess for blog tours via Cedar Fort whereupon I am thankful to have such a diverse amount of novels and non-fiction titles to choose amongst to host. I received a complimentary copy of “Soda Springs” direct from the publisher Bonneville Books (imprint of Cedar Fort, Inc) in exchange for an honest review. I did not receive compensation for my opinions or thoughts shared herein.

On my connection to Ms Steele:

I first made a connection to Ms Steele when I read ‘Willow Springs’, however, time and life swept us up in our respective tides until several months leading up to the ‘Soda Springs’ blog tour. Occasionally we would see each other on Twitter, and when it came time for Ms Steele to find bloggers for her blog tour, we reconnected finding to each of ours chagrin how much we share in common! As both writers and photographers, a friendship organically started to develop. A friendship I find to be a true blessing to have and in no way does this cloud my judgement to review her novels, because each story I read is met with an open heart and mind.

I am disclosing this, to assure you that I can formulate an honest opinion, even though I have interacted with Steele through our respective love & passion of reading inside the twitterverse or whilst in private conversations outside of it. I treat each book as a ‘new experience’, whether I personally know the author OR whether I am reading a book by them for the first time or continuously throughout their writerly career.

Quoting a part of my enthused reaction on why I wanted to read ‘Soda Springs’:

I love historical fiction and family dramas; this new novel has everything I appreciate! Plus, I don’t mind that it’s based on a historical period of time for Mormons because I’m an open minded reader who reads about cross-cultural and cross-religious heritages which may or may not be my own. It’s part of what I love the most about reading!

You get to walk in different shoes than the pair your wearing!

On notation on Cover Art and the author’s dedication:

When I first caught sight of this novel’s cover art (as given to me by Ms Steele), I must say, I was quite curious at where the character’s eyes were cast – such a serious expression and a curiously fiery sky in the background. Her eyes stand so very resolute in their stare, you see. It could be twilight or it could be a forbearance of strife. The historical etching of place was quite apparent and I liked the overlays of graphics as well. The short quotation caught my eye, as I am attracted to stories of adversity in which the writers knit a layering of survival threaded through hope and the joys life can bestow us when we’re least expecting to find merriment.

The author’s dedication to both a specific locale and to her husband was most endearing – you gathered a true sense of what anchours Ms Steele and what uplifts her heart and spirit the most. I was definitely keen on visiting Grays Lake myself after such a hearty glimpse into what gives her such a renewal of memory and mirth of happiness.

Blog Book Tour | For Steele’s sophomore release (“#SodaSprings”) she’s knit us inside a wicked lovely Western where Hope guides the characters towards redeeming the Light of their lives!Soda Springs
by Carolyn Steele
Source: Direct from Publisher

“Father!” Tessa jumped off the porch, skipping the four steps and landing with her bare feet on the dusty cobbles, making a soft thud. She raced toward the man silhouetted by the flames. “Father, what are you doing?” She whispered her shout as loudly as she dared, fearful of waking the rest of her family. “Stop!”

“Go back inside,” he hissed at her, scarcely turning his head in her direction as he tossed a jacket into the fire.

“Your uniform . . .” She gasped in horror. Flames consumed the gray woolen coat and trousers. “Why?”

When Tessa Darrow discovers her father burning his Confederate uniform, she has no idea that his secret torment will devastate their family and drive them from their home in North Carolina. In 1865, her family treks along the Oregon Trail until tragedy strikes, leaving Tessa and her father to build a new life in Soda Springs, Idaho, a town settled by a group of exiled Mormons. For Tessa to find happiness in her future, she must learn to forgive and grow from the hurt and hardships in her past.

This sweeping story illuminates an oft-forgotten era in LDS Church history and highlights the history of Soda Springs, Idaho--referred to by early travelers as "an oasis on the Oregon Trail." Filled with drama, humor, and enduring love, it's a thrilling read for history buffs and romantics alike.

Places to find the book:

Borrow from a Public Library

Add to Riffle

ISBN: 9781462117000

Also by this author: Willow Springs

Genres: Historical Fiction, Historical Romance, Inspirational Fiction & Non-Fiction, War Drama, Western Fiction


Published by Bonneville Books

on 8th December, 2015

Format: Paperback Edition

Pages: 264

Jorie Loves A Story Cuppa Book Love Awards Badge created by Jorie in Canva. Coffee and Tea Clip Art Set purchased on Etsy; made by rachelwhitetoo.

Published By: Bonneville Books (@BonnevilleBooks),

an imprint of Cedar Fort, Inc (@CedarFortBooks)
Available Formats: Paperback, Ebook

Converse via: #histfic, #ChristFic, #LDSFiction + #SodaSprings

About Carolyn Steele

Carolyn Steele

Carolyn Steele enjoys ferreting out obscure history and weaving it through her tales. With a career rooted in business writing, she loves researching details of her novels to ensure their historical accuracy, drawing praise from Pony Express re-enactors for her first novel, “Willow Springs.” Carolyn works full-time writing communications for healthcare providers, then spends evenings indulging her passion for writing historical fiction. When not at the computer, Carolyn loves traveling with her husband and visiting with her four children and thirteen grandchildren. In her spare moments, she traipses about Utah with a camera in hand, and occasionally muddles through a round of golf. She dreams of one day traveling the world, photographing all those mystical lands that beg to be backdrops for her novels.

To say “hello,” visit her on her social media channels!

Read More

Reading this book contributed to these challenges:

  • 2015 Historical Fiction Reading Challenge
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Posted Tuesday, 22 December, 2015 by jorielov in #JorieLovesIndies, 19th Century, Balance of Faith whilst Living, Bits & Bobbles of Jorie, Blog Tour Host & Reviewer, Bookish Discussions, Cedar Fort Publishing & Media, Death, Sorrow, and Loss, Epistolary Novel | Non-Fiction, Family Drama, Family Life, Farm and Ranching on the Frontier, Father-Daughter Relationships, Grief & Anguish of Guilt, Historical Fiction, Historical Romance, Homestead Life, Indie Author, Inspirational Fiction & Non-Fiction, Jorie Loves A Story Cuppa Book Love Awards, Life Shift, Mormonism, Mother-Daughter Relationships, Old West Americana, Oregon, Questioning Faith as a Teen, Religious History, Romantic Suspense, Siblings, Western Fiction, Western Romance

Blog Book Tour | “Softly Falling” by Carla Kelly

Posted Saturday, 22 November, 2014 by jorielov , , , 3 Comments

Parajunkee Designs

Softly Falling by Carla Kelly

Published By: Sweetwater Books (@SweetwaterBooks),
an imprint of Cedar Fort, Inc (@CedarFortBooks)

Available Formats: Paperback, Ebook

Converse via: #SoftlyFalling, #histfic, #diverselit

Fun Stuff for Your Blog via pureimaginationblog.com

Acquired Book By: 

I am a regular tour hostess for blog tours via Cedar Fort whereupon I am thankful to have such a diverse amount of novels and non-fiction titles to choose amongst to host. I received a complimentary copy of “Softly Falling” direct from the publisher Sweetwater Books (imprint of Cedar Fort, Inc) in exchange for an honest review. I did not receive compensation for my opinions or thoughts shared herein.

Inspired to Read:

I simply adore historical romances, and I have a soft spot for Westerns! I love the intensity of the moment where the two main characters find themselves in a place where they have to fight alongside each other for survival! A great place to curate drama and romance!

Blog Book Tour | “Softly Falling” by Carla KellySoftly Falling
by Carla Kelly
Source: Direct from Publisher

Lily looked at the vastness of the plains, full of cattle, and then up at the sky without a cloud in sight.

"What's going to happen, Mr. Sinclair?" she asked.

"What do you know?"

Fresh off the train from New York City,  Lily Carteret arrives in picturesque Wynoming only to discover that her wayward father has lost his cattle ranch to a lowly cowboy in a card game!

Determined not to let her father's folly ruin her life, Lily becomes a teacher on the ranch. There she learns that the handsome cowboy, Jack Sinclair, has made some wild predictions about the upcoming winter - that it will be unlike anything Wyoming has ever seen. Lily must either cast off her skepticism to work with Jack or risk losing everything she holds dear.

This latest novel by bestselling romance author Carla Kelly is sure to please new and old fans alike. Stirring, tense, and filled with swoon-worthy moments, it's a delectable read that will leave you begging for more!

Places to find the book:

Borrow from a Public Library

Add to Riffle

Add to LibraryThing

ISBN: 9781462113958

Also by this author: Summer Campaign, Courting Carrie in Wonderland, A Season of Love

Genres: Historical Fiction, Western Fiction


Published by Sweetwater Books

on 11th of November, 2014

Format: Paperback Edition

Pages: 288

About Carla Kelly

Carla Kelly is a veteran of the New York and international publishing world. The author of more than thirty novels and novellas for Donald I. Fine Co., Signet, and Harlequin, Carla is the recipient of two Rita Awards (think Oscars for romance writing) from Romance Writers of America and two Spur Awards (think Oscars for western fiction) from Western Writers of America. She is also a recipient of a Whitney Award for Borrowed Light, My Loving Vigil Keeping and Softly Falling.

Photo Credit: Marie Bryner-Bowles, Bryner Photography

Rugged yet full of Heart: the American West was for spirited survivors:

One of the reasons I love snuggling into a historical fiction drama set within the Rocky Mountain range of majestic jeweled peaks, is because I love the ruggedness of the land with the warm fire of spirit of the people who call the territories home. This was a portion of America where only the rugged at heart could carve out a living and find the joy in the seasons, as hard as they were to survive on little to no means of surplus provisions. This is where the men and women who dared to thrive found themselves in pickles when the heaviest of the storms plundered down around them in the Spring and Winter.

I have always been encouraged by their fiery spirit and their camaraderie to find sparkles of happiness out of a rough-hewn life forged out of necessity and honour. They could teach the art of simplicity and the wealth of faith rooted out of everyday joy and celebrations. Reading stories underlit by raw courage and a sense of instincts labouring to endure whatever nature could see to challenge them with is one reason I find myself drawn into the Western genre; soaking inside one story after another, and gaining a bit of insight into the way the West was settled.

My Review of Softly Falling:

Miss Lily Carteret has not had an easy upbringing; she is the daughter of her father’s heart, but her family in England was quite proper and never fully accepted her uniqueness as a quality they could appreciate. Her grace of statue and her calm fire in spite of such uneasy attitudes gave her a bit of a headway into understanding how to survive in a world of injustices. The colour of her skin held within it’s own beauty of her spirit and the compassion of her mother of whom she rarely speaks of but intuitively knows she had gained a grounding of character. Lily is a formidable woman in an age and time during our historical past where women were not given many opportunities nor a chance to define their lives on the merits of their own capabilities. Yet, due to a change of circumstance in both her station and in her location, Lily not only accepts her plight but shines a light on what is possible inside her mind’s eye.

The story begins on a premise of words whispering out of Thomas Edison about how never to compromise a defeat if you haven’t first uncovered every stone cast against your path. The strength of the quotation is explored through Lily as much as it is in Jack; two unlikely souls finding themselves in the same bit of Wyoming territory where a harsh clime and an undying level of optimism can take you further than a stubborn attitude against change. They each are residing near a rambling ranch where a lone schoolhouse looms silent within a stone’s throw of a towne with less than a dozen children residing inside it. The potential for what the schoolhouse could give Lily is enough of a will for Jack to encourage the lass to consider all options outside the box in an attempt to inspire her forward when life has left her feeling as though she is slowly falling into a vacuum. Neither moving forward or backwards, but rather sliding into a part of her life where uncertainty rules the roost of the early dawn.

The schoolhouse not only offered shelter for a small group of knowledge thirsty children to gain insight into how to read, write and do arithmetic but it sheltered them from a blizzard which arrived without warning and without a whispering sound! Snow funneled down to the earth in such earnest strides towards whitening out the entire ranch, giving Lily only time enough to assess her supplies and attempt to bring a bit of normalcy to the growing tension rising between her and the children. Her mind was filled with concern for her father (recently enroute to the city) and for Jack (elsewhere at the moment) whilst the world turnt dark, cold and frightening otherworldly. The snow’s wrath and extended conditions reminded me of the snowstorm greeting the Northern Tier of the states and provinces of Canada this November of 2014!

In the very beginning of the novel, Jack proffered Lily a premonition of what might come as soon as Winter set in on this small portion of the Wyoming Territory; knowing his intuition was set to rights was one thing, watching it arrive before her eyes was nearly too much weight for Lily to bear. She had grown not in years but in depths of what she was individually capable of achieving since she first arrived off the train; she had taken the bleak situation presented to her and turnt lemons into lemonade. She found her true calling in life (teaching) and she found self-worth was never too far away if you had a bit of ingenuity up your sleeve. Her presence warmed the hearts of the ranch hands and the help of the ramshackle ranch; where even the children learnt prejudice of others had no place in their world. She was not the only multicultural resident, but she was the one who breathed acceptance and tolerance into a slice of the territory which had long since needed to evolve past ignorance.

What I loved the most about Softly Falling is how the pieces of Lily’s life started to fall as soft as early Winter snowflakes, gentle and soft; warming to the spirit and endearing to the heart. She found she was never quite as alone as she felt she were in the world and that suddenly you can find yourself in a well sprung of kindness you never knew you had aligned on your path. The charming bits of the story remind me of a true epic saga, where you tuck yourself into the lives of the characters in such a way as to firmly and rather stubbornly do not move an inch off your seat until your fingers move the very last of the pages forward to gleam what is awaiting you in the ending paragraphs!

Softly Falling reminded me a bit of Love Comes Softly on the level where true love is not always a shower of sparks or lightning bolts, but a reassurance of commitment, trust, and compassion developing into something more solid as hours slide into days and days into months. Love isn’t always a firecracker explosion but true love can fall as softly as a snowflake and endure a soul to another as surely as a thousand year old oak can withstand a blizzard. A testament of strength irregardless of the ills and adversities of life; love can gather itself in thin soil and thrive in a pasture of a fertile harvest.

A soulful grace of story-telling where the characters alight naturally into view out of the pen of Carla Kelly:

Carla Kelly shines her soulful grace of the craft of story-telling within this novel, which accomplishes much more at it’s core than merely telling us a story wrought out of the Western genre within the folds of a Historical Fiction. No, this novel seeks a gentle truth towards telling a story rooted in the realism between the continental divides of race, identity, and personal worth as related to station, lifestyle, and locale. She interweaves a gentle hand of guidance within the minds of her characters, but it is how each of her characters bespeak of their innermost beliefs I found endeared me the most to the novel itself. A prime example of this is how Jack took awhile to realise his fond affection for Lily was far deeper than he was allowing himself to believe and yet, every chance he had to convey his thoughts to the reader, his love shone as bright as the Northern Lights:

My favourite passage from Jack relaying his thoughts on behalf of Lily & her mother:

He had no family, and the two women – one of color and the other of a creamy blend – filled his heart more than he knew at the time. They were ladies of quality but suspended in an unkind world, because they fit no mold.

– Jack from page 50, Chapter 7 of “Softly Falling” by Carla Kelly; see sources below

Kelly has captured my heart for the American West and given me a novel fully supported of cultural integrity and diversity of spirit, soul, heart, and the pursuit of finding your own path when life gives you an intercession of pause to choose how you want to live rather than having a life dictated to you.

An additional note on | character descriptions (per a convo I had on #K8Chat):

If I hadn’t ducked in on the lively and open-minded chat via #K8chat whilst I was working on this book review, I might not have thought to broach this subject, as part of the discussion was focused on how characters of race are presented within descriptive narratives. Specifically how writers tend to lean on descriptive choices pairing food with personal appearances as a method to convey differences in culture, race, and ethnicity. During the chat, I had expressed my thoughts on the topic by mentioning that oft-times when I find descriptive choices that lean on this writing technique to be of a ‘falling short of grace’ for me. Of course, within 140 characters I had to get a bit creative in how I expressed this but suffice to say, most choices come across as contrite, predictable, cliche or used in a way which does not befit the character nor the representation of the diversity the character is illuminating.

However, I said it does depend on context and content, as much as the story itself and not every writer writes the same way per each situation this would arise. Or at least, it was my intention to point this out, but chats on Twitter are such a rapid fire explosion of tweeting, you’d have better luck playing Quidditch! What I mostly have found though is that if you are limiting a person’s outside appearance to being described solely upon shapes, food, or discernible attributes which barter on a consensus of commonality within the trade of books — I feel as though the industry is simply missing out on the opportunity to use a palette of words which befit characters as defined as we would describe someone we met in real life.

I  personally do not see colour nor culture – I see people and their stories; stories yet to be shared or known, but everyone who walks earth has a story to tell. We are as diverse as the four winds, we are as colourful as a kaleidescope and we are as wonderfully unique as we were bourne to be. I always champion writers who find a way to allow their characters to be naturally wrought out of the text of their stories, emerging into the scenes as if they were not only living their truth but they were owning it at the same time.

In the opening chapters of Softly Falling, we are greeted by Lily’s disheveled and disillusioned father, who has never quite turnt an honest wage into an honest living irregardless of which country he’s living inside. A man whose soul was hinged to the bottle and a heart without the will to see past his daily tasks. His greatest gifts of love and joy were his wife and daughter, yet both were ethnically different from himself. Sadly, he was never quite the man either one of them deserved. Rather than establish a line of clarity on what his daughter would appear like disembarking from the train to the man he entrusted to collect her, he relates her origins in direct comparison to a specific type of tea.

What I appreciated seeing how Kelly treated the scene from two different points of view – that of Lily’s father (Clarence) and from Jack, is that Jack felt her appearance and her essence were not being properly voiced. He was embarrassed by the frankness of her father and of the method of his ability to describe her. Jack had more sense in his head than a father could bestow on his own flesh and blood. The dichotomy of their choices proved a telling point — no matter which era we call our own, there are always ripples of indifference in regards to who we are on the outside without seeing our beauty from the inside. I felt Kelly approached this quite well and I sided with Jack instantly on his compassion and his acceptance of Lily.

During the #K8Chat, I was surprised on how lively the discussion had become but one that was full of respect, innocent encouragement of exchanging ideas and an open forum for acceptance on both sides of the topic itself. Some voiced concerns over how descriptive narratives are used or how they are interpreted by readers whereas some who might have felt everything was acceptable were given fodder to chew at the end of the hour. To me the best way forward in a diverse world of literature is where every person (and their character counterpart) has the breathing space to become a part of the world stage of stories — we each have to remain open and honest about our thoughts, our impressions, and the believably of how stories are told. If truism and realism are important, even as book bloggers it would benefit us to remember to voice any concerns we might have as we read diversity in novels as much as celebrating the writers like Carla Kelly who get it right.

Don’t forget to give a nod of gratitude to her publisher, Sweetwater Books/Cedar Fort as well!

Fun Stuff for Your Blog via pureimaginationblog.com

(read more of the convo) (read the chat transcript)

(the chatter who sparked the topic : Melissa Robles (@MeliRobles) | The Reader & the Chef)

(read my essay from #atozchallenge: Letter E The World is a Melting Pot)

Fun Stuff for Your Blog via pureimaginationblog.com

This Blog Tour Stop is courtesy of Cedar Fort, Inc:

Cedar Fort Publishing & Media

 Be sure to follow the rest of the blog tour:
Softly Falling Blog Tour via Cedar Fort Publishing & Media
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Return May, 2015 to see my second book review on behalf of a Carla Kelly novel:

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{SOURCES: Book Cover Art for “Softly Falling”, author biography, book synopsis, blog tour badges and the badge for Cedar Fort Publishing & Media were provided by Cedar Fort Publishing & Media and used with permission. Permission granted in notice of copyright for ‘brief passages embodied in critical reviews’ which is why I selected a small quotation to share on my review with the permission of the publisher. Post dividers badge by Fun Stuff for Your Blog via Pure Imagination. Blog Tour badge provided by Parajunkee to give book bloggers definition on their blogs. #IndieWriterMonth badge created by Jorie in Canva. Cross-Posted badge for Riffle created by Jorie in Canva.}

Copyright © Jorie Loves A Story, 2014.

The live reading tweets in regards to “Softly Falling”:

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Reading this book contributed to these challenges:

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Posted Saturday, 22 November, 2014 by jorielov in #K8chat, 19th Century, American Old West, Animals in Fiction & Non-Fiction, Balance of Faith whilst Living, Bits & Bobbles of Jorie, Blog Tour Host & Reviewer, Bookish Discussions, Cats and Kittens, Cedar Fort Publishing & Media, Clever Turns of Phrase, Compassion & Acceptance of Differences, Death, Sorrow, and Loss, Equality In Literature, Family Drama, Family Life, Farm and Ranching on the Frontier, Father-Daughter Relationships, Geographically Specific, Historical Fiction, Historical Romance, Homestead Life, Indie Author, Inheritance & Identity, Inspirational Fiction & Non-Fiction, Life Shift, Lyrical Quotations, Multi-cultural Characters and/or Honest Representations of Ethnicity, Native American Fiction, Old West Americana, Passionate Researcher, Philosophical Intuitiveness, Romance Fiction, Small Towne Fiction, Small Towne USA, Spontaneous Convos Inspired by Book, Twitterland & Twitterverse Event, Western Fiction, Western Romance, Wordsmiths & Palettes of Sage, Wyoming

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