Gabriel’s Atonement

Gabriel’s AtonementGabriel's Atonement by Vickie McDonough
Series: Land Rush
Genres: Historical Romance
Published by Shiloh Run Press on January 1, 2015
Pages: 320

 

It was to save himself. That’s what Gabriel Coulter tells himself every time he thinks of the dead man slumped in the alleyway. But now he just might have a chance to atone for what he’s done – by helping Lara Talbot, the widow his crime left behind. He wasn’t expecting Lara to reject his offer, or that the poor, wraithlike woman would stir something deep in his heart.

Gabriel’s Atonement is an easy read, a gentle historical novel that tickles our romantic fancies while being set in a fascinating period of history.

Lara Talbot has always struggled to keep her family fed and healthy, with or without her husband. But when she gets news of Tom’s death and the unknown messenger extends a suspicious hand of generosity, Lara decides that it is up to her to look after her wayward sister, ailing grandfather and growing son. However her only option of providing for her family is racing in the upcoming Land Rush to stake a claim of land, and that means that matters are taken out of her hands. Gabriel Coulter offers her security, even love, and she tentatively starts to accept it – but will her own feelings for him last when she learns the truth behind his interest in her?

Gabriel’s Atonement is an easy read, a gentle historical novel that tickles our romantic fancies while being set in a fascinating period of history. I had never heard about the Land Rush before: the opening up of the unassigned Native American lands for people to stake claim on for free, which was actually organised into a race that people competed in. The thought of people coming from across the country to try and snare their own piece of land fascinates me, and it good grounds for a story when you take into account the desperation and greed that many people would have possessed. I really appreciate the author’s delving into a historical moment that isn’t well-known. Well, I’ve never heard of it, not sure if that means anything! But it is certainly a different setting than what I’ve read before, a completely different setting to, say, the war or Regency period. It is refreshing and I learned something new

Despite the subject matter, unfortunately the plot was in no rush to move along! The Land Rush was on the horizon for most of the book and I was waiting expectantly for that – it felt like the real conflict would begin then. But because of that expectation, the rest of the book seemed to drag with the ongoing struggle between Lara and her family, as well as Gabriel and Lara slowly coming to terms with their pasts and feelings for each other. I understand this information is necessary, and I felt it perhaps could have been more condensed.

I really appreciate the author’s delving into a historical moment that isn’t well-known… a completely different setting to, say, the war or Regency period.

A reader needs to identify and care for the characters in order for the novel to be successful. While I sympathise with Gabriel and Lara’s situation, I found that I wasn’t caring or identifying with them at first. The characters seemed to lack a type of depth of reality; that said however, once the stakes were raised, the Land Rush began and the characters were confronted with making choices to determine their paths, I felt the story came alive. It was worth the wait! I began to care for the characters and wanted to keep reading right to the end. This shift in pace towards the end of Gabriel’s Atonement is what saved the book for me.

There are lot of characters to follow, but McDonough manages to include them all in a way that isn’t overwhelming or too much. I also appreciated the themes of forgiveness and persistent trust in God that came through. I like Lara and Gabriel as a couple and their romance is sweet, even though I do often despair at how characters tend to fall in love at first sight – or at least feel some kind of “pull” towards the other. Still, I guess that’s part of the appeal of romantic stories anyway – I think we all like the idea of meeting someone and just knowing that they are the one! 🙂

Would I recommend this book? If you’re looking for an easy-on-the-brain, unchallenging book that you can read curled up in front of fire, then yes.

In short: would I recommend this book? If you’re looking for an easy-on-the-brain, unchallenging book that you can read curled up in front of fire, then yes. Although it took a while, it captured my attention enough for me to be looking out for the next title in this series, Joline’s Redemption. Gabriel’s Atonement is a promising start to what should be a good series.

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