Nineteen-year-old Rebecca Baard has experienced more than her share of sorrow, and now she is afraid to open her heart to love. Besides, no man has ever shown enough interest in her to come courting. So Rebecca's friends set out to remedy the situation, concocting social events to attract all the eligible bachelors in Blessing and advising her in the use of feminine wiles. When none of these efforts seem to work, Rebecca tries yet another tack, only to discover that even the best of intentions can't keep events from taking a surprising turn. Will Rebecca overcome her fears, or will she settle for something less than love?
Going home to Blessing, North Dakota is a favorite reading pastime for me. I've been a fan of Lauraine Snelling's books about the Bjourkland family and their friends for well over ten years. I look forward to each new book about the townsfolk and the going ons in their lives as they live out the American dream out in the west. With this book, we get to read the story of Rebecca Baard, cousin of Penny and daughter to Ingeborg's best friend who died several years ago. Rebecca is tired of the life she lives, having to tend an all male house and wants to start a new life. She dreams of opening a soda shoppe in her hometown but needs to find resources and funding to make this dream come true. I really liked her relationship with her friends and cousins. It's good to read about how girl talk was an important part of life even back in the day.
My favorite part about this book was the talk of all the ice cream! Rebecca is extremely productive and takes a lot of initiative to make this dream of hers become a reality. There's a lot of planning and research that went into making her decision. I appreciated that she did take the time to learn about what goes into running an ice cream shop and not had it magically happen. There was a lot of things to consider, including the question of who would go get ice cream in the winter time. I really liked it when she went on the behind the scenes tour of the ice cream parlor in Bismarck and then got to eat the ice cream.
I also have really enjoyed seeing the Valders boys change and mature throughout the entire Blessing saga. When we first met them, they were ragtags who were troublemakers, stubborn and rude. They eventually got adopted and throughout the books began to change and soften the hearts of the townsfolk and their own parents. With this book the focus is on Gerald and it's wonderful to see him now be a kind hearted man who has definitely grown up from him wild beginnings. I was also really glad to see him take a stand against his mother, who seems to be the ever popular grump of the town.
The only thing I felt was a bit odd was that the story of Mr. Jeffers seems to end up abruptly with no conclusion. There was nothing really wrong per se, but I just felt that the story was left hanging and just pushed aside. It's not a big plot but since it affected the main characters it would have been nice to have some closure. Other than this, I really enjoyed reading this book. It's total comfort reading for me, and I love the historical setting. I am dying to read Astrid's story and am excited that the next series about Blessing is going to be based entirely on her. Lauraine Snelling is one of my favorite Christian historical fiction authors and I feel that if you start with the first book in this saga, you won't be able to stop.
Rebecca's Reward by Lauraine Snelling is published by Bethany House (2008)
This review copy was provided by the publisher