The Hope of Azure Springs is the debut novel by author Rachel Fordham. This Christian historical romance fiction has a lovely cover that is captivating. The 336 pages are packed with mystery, life lessons, emotions, light romance and dotted with humor.
This is the tale of Em. As the book opens she has suffered a gunshot wound and presents a mystery. Caleb is the gallant Sheriff. They are thrown together to solve the mystery of who shot Em and why. These two characters are extremely well defined, carry quite a bit of emotional baggage, and are very easy to like. It is not hard to get drawn into their story. I was invested within the first chapter.
The secondary characters are not all as well defined. Some have great details and are then forgotten. I wanted to hear more about them. The dialogue for the most part flowed smoothly but there were times it sounded a little stiff or too modern.
The story itself was well thought, but at times the writing felt a bit choppy. At one point I thought the book was over and it still have a few chapters to go. The next chapters enhanced the story but easily could have been the beginning of a Book Two.
The author does a great job relating emotions in her writing. I could feel the emotional roller coaster that Em was on. Many times I teared up or cheered while reading this. The banter between Em and Caleb always put a smile on my face. Both characters grew a lot throughout the story.
The spiritual content was there but extremely light. Speaking about prayer and God’s goodness was the only thing I caught, and I do not remember any comments about redemption or salvation. However, following the story were discussion questions! For me that is a biggie. If a book club or group is reading a book, it is nice to have questions. This one has that nicely covered.
I liked the story and will pick up the next book penned by author Fordham. Anyone who enjoys historical romantic fiction will want to read it. The life lessons, gossiping, inner and outer beauty, and helping other are ones good for teenagers and up. I rated this a 4 out of 5 stars and definitely recommend it.