Summary from BN.com: The future should be bright for Deborah Vandermark, who is now pursuing her interest in medicine alongside Dr. Christopher Clayton, who is courting her. But the lumber town is resistant to the idea of a woman physician, and she feels thwarted at every turn. A more devastating blow occurs, however, when Christopher breaks off their relationship to return home to his troubled family.
Despite her own love life going awry, Deborah is still intent to be a matchmaker for both her widowed mother and her brother, who has caught the eye of the spit-fire daughter of the local pastor. But what will Deborah do when faced with the truth about Christopher's family? Is there hope for the two of them...or will Jake Wyeth's attentions finally catch Deborah's eye instead?
While I had enjoyed the first book in the series tremendously, I felt this one to fall a bit short. The story is nothing new in Christian fiction, it's typical inspirational historical romance. There's a bit more historical talk in this book than others which is a nice change of pace. As I had said in my previous review of the first book, I was rather excited of the aspect of there being two characters named Deborah and Jael, akin to the story in the Bible and the fact that I'd never seen these two names used before together in the same story. I was hoping that maybe this overall series would be alluding to a modern day (or rather updated historical) version of story. However, I was disappointed that Jael was barely used in the story at all and there appears to be nothing of the sort to resemble anything of the Bible story.
There is some interesting talk involving race relations that happens throughout the book. Since it's set during the 1880s in Texas, there's many references to distrust and prejudice against African Americans, Native Americans and Mexicans. There's a big sense of "white pride" throughout the story from the residents of town and it's rather scary how they are violent against those they don't feel meet their standards. Also interesting is the notion of women being doctors during this time period. It's a topic that has been brought up several times such as in Dr. Quinn but I always find it to be so fascinating. Just because of her sex, Deborah gets totally denied at doing thing even though she holds the same knowledge as any male doctor perhaps even more so due to her more recent schooling.
Overall, this is pretty much what to expect from a Tracie Peterson novel. There's nothing really groundbreaking and the story is pretty much formuliac. However, I do enjoy her writing because I feel them to be comfort reads for. There's nothing in here to stretch my faith but it's a fun story to read. I would not read this book as a standalone. There are too many characters in the book to keep track of and if you don't read the first book you will be horribly lost. References to previous characters and events are mentioned but they don't go into detail even though they become major plot points in this story.
Hearts Aglow by Tracie Peterson is published by Bethany House (2011)
This review copy was provided for a tour with the Christian Fiction Blog Alliance
Other books in the Striking a Match series that I've reviewed:
Embers of Love by Tracie Peterson (Book 1)