**Warning: some spoilers in this review**
Determined to reclaim her wayward sisterís orphaned daughter Rebecca, Cleveland, Ohio socialite Jenny Martin, travels to all the way to Kahlerville, Texas, only to find Rebeccaís adopted father, the townís doctor, Grant Andrews, unwilling to give her up. Though infuriated by his refusal, Jenny soon finds her pragmatic heart melting beneath the warmth of the Kahlerville townsfolk, their expressions of Christís love, and the blistering Texas sun. Set in 1895, Diann Millsí Lanterns and Lace is a touching narrative of one young womanís struggle against and ultimate blissful submission to Christ's love.
Jaded from youth by her parentsí scientific worldview, Jenny is baffled by the love and faith of those who surround her in Kahlerville. Her greatest source of puzzlement, however, is Doctor Andrews, a godly man determined to shelter his adopted daughter at all costs. Despite the odds at which their opposing goals and beliefs place them, friendship and later love blossom between Grant and Jenny. All too soon, however, they find their steps haunted by the suspicious and deplorable Aubrey Turner, a man who will stop at nothing to reclaim what he has lost. With the help of Grant, his family and above all, his God, Jenny must overcome both her unhappy childhood and the ominous threat overshadowing her future.
Lanterns and Lace is guided by an impressive ensemble of characters whom Mills weaves together with commendable grace. These relationships, ranging from the romantic to the familial, lend the book a special authenticity and depth that keeps the story alive and engaging. The author also introduces the characters in such a way that the readers feel as though they are meeting real people as she reveals the depths of their characters through the natural course of the novel. Jenny Martin, the novelís protagonist, is as intriguing and unique a heroine as one could hope to find. Her spunky yet refined nature, and her fears of insufficiency masked by confidence, create a likeable character with whom the reader can develop an easy camaraderie. The only character lacking in development was the novelís antagonist, Aubrey Turner. While the crimes he commits throughout the novel are certainly enough to paint him a desperado, the reader is left wanting a fuller understanding of the man behind the villainís mask.
The novelís setting is equally well-written, with the texture of both time and place thoroughly enfolding the reader into the storyís various scenes. With descriptions both accurate and eloquent, Mills manages to transport her reader back into a time and place where the sweat, blood, faith and gallantry all met on the dusty plains of the Wild West towns.
But Lanterns and Laceís merits extend beyond its charming characters and captivating setting. The novel is an illustration of peopleís tendency to attempt to fulfill their longing for God with other things and relationships. Born into a wealthy but indifferent home, Jenny has spent her entire life attempting to please her parents and find fulfillment in their approval. It is Jennyís hope that by returning with Rebecca she might finally gain the affection she so desperately seeks. But it is not until Jenny calls on Christ to fill her heart and begins extending His love to others that she finds true joy and peace.
The bookís only real flaw is found in its occasionally unbelievable dialogue. While the bulk of it is well written and skillfully used to convey important information, some conversations seemed unnatural and forced. Overall, however, faithful readers of Christian historical romance novels will find Diann Millsí new novel quite enjoyable and find themselves eagerly anticipating her next piece of fiction. Ė Lauren Peltier, Christian Book Previews.com
Jenny Stevens is headed for Kahlerville, Texas, determined to wrench her two-year-old niece, Rebecca, from her adoptive father. As she steps off the train, Jenny encounters the mysterious Robert Turner and the seemingly dedicated physician Grant Andrews. Is Jenny's life as well as her heart in peril? Grant Andrews is resolute in his desire to keep Rebecca in his care, yet finds himself drawn to her impudent aunt. Will another man's threats and the issue of Rebecca's custody keep him from pursuing what could be the love of his life? Will Robert Turner dog Jenny's steps until she succumbs to his demands? Love flowers as devious plots thicken.