Book Review: Beauty for Ashes
She’s a beautiful widow. He’s a Southern gentleman with a thirst for adventure. Both need a place to call home.
After losing her husband in the Civil War, Carrie Daly doesn’t believe that she will never have the family she longs for. The town thinks that Nate Chastain is her perfect match, still, she isn’t ready to set a wedding date.
Griff Rutledge is a former member of Charleston society, but has been estranged from his family for years. He’s determined to remain unattached, never settling in one place for too long. But when asked to train a Thoroughbred for an upcoming race in Hickory Ridge, he decides to stay awhile.
Despite objections from the townsfolk, and her fear that true happiness has eluded her, Carrie is drawn to Griff’s kindness and charm. It will take a leap of faith for them to open their hearts and see if they can find beauty for ashes.
Overall, I enjoyed reading Beauty for Ashes. I wasn’t aware that the book was the second in a series and while I didn’t have any trouble with the storyline it was clear that the narrative would have been richer if I had read the first novel, Beyond All Measure.
The thing I enjoyed most was the character development. Carrie was sweet, but not perfect. She had a temper at times. She said unkind things. She battled with selfishness and self-centeredness (as every person does). I appreciated how the author demonstrated the way our deeply held beliefs can deceive us through the portrayal of Nate’s life. And I was exasperated with Mary…she reminded me of Avonlea’s Rachel Lynde, there’s a reality to her that you can connect to – you can’t hate her, but you’d have a hard time loving her. And I loved the quiet, yet powerful, character of the Pastor’s wife.
While the character development was excellent and the plot was well thought out I would have liked to have seen more in the development of the spiritual themes.
I appreciated the thoughts on surrender to God, but I didn’t think these themes were deeply resolved in Carrie’s life. I would have liked to have seen more development of the Biblical theme of learning to love God more for who He is rather than coming to Him wanting our struggles resolved. It seemed like Carrie was thinking about walking on this path, but the theme seemed to slip away without being fully developed before the happy ending. Some of the comments about faith seemed trite, but perhaps they were supposed to be the way they were set into the story. There was very little attention given to Nate’s faith which disappointed me, but I suppose it was more of Carrie’s story. All in all, I enjoyed the novel. It was a well written story and a good read.
Thank you to Thomas Nelson Publishers for sending me a free digital copy of this book in exchange for an honest review.