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I don’t usually read historical fiction, not even historical romances. When I think of historical romances, I think of Victorian era women in a thousand yards of drapery and feathered hats fainting while scallywags in top hats attempt to ravish them. That just isn’t my thing. But there was just something about the premise of Stealing the Preacher that made me want to take a chance on it. I’m glad I did.

For his daughter’s birthday, former outlaw Silas Robbins kidnaps aspiring minister Crockett Archer off a train. Even though Silas doesn’t know what his daughter could possibly want with a preacher, he is determined to get one for her. Crockett was on his way to Brenham seeking to be appointed minister of the local church by the elders. He tries to run away from his captors and get word to the leadership in Brenham that he has been delayed. Upon meeting Silas’ daughter, Joanna, Crockett learns that Joanna wants a preacher to help her save her father’s soul and resurrect the area’s church. He admires her dedication to her father and her faith, and uses his delay to preach a sermon for her birthday. He promises that he will help her find a preacher for the church, perhaps the gentleman he is competing against for the position of Minister at the Brenham church. While considering all that has happened, Crockett begins to think maybe he is the preacher that God is sending to resurrect Jo’s church. There’s certainly something about this woman that pulls at him. What does God have in store for him?

Using my romance novel review rubric, this is how Stealing the Preacher fared:

  1. Main characters I care about. I fell in love with Crockett Archer from his introduction, and Jo’s earnest faith and love for her father, along with her self-consciousness won me over I liked their dynamic together. I thought the supporting characters were really strong as well: Silas and his “gang,” who are retired from train robbing and living out their days working a ranch; Holly, the local beauty in hot pursuit of the new minister; Jackson, the young boy in love with Joanna who Crockett takes under his wing to mentor, and; the Marshall trying to get Crockett to identify his kidnappers and bring them to justice for reasons of his own. Every character was well written. Even if you didn’t like them, you couldn’t stop reading them.
  2. Unique ways of throwing the main characters together. I don’t know if it gets any more unique than being stolen off a train and brought to a woman on the end of a rope like cattle. The further delays to Crockett’s departure and all of the ways that Crocket and Jo are placed together, while not as dramatic as their initial meeting, served their purpose.
  3. A sweet reveal of their true feelings for one another. Talk about a lot of drama! The reveal of their feelings for one another happened earlier in this book than in others. It was indeed a sweet moment that made me tear up a bit. But the more public declaration was so harrowing and dramatic I thought I might faint before I got through flipping all the pages. Without giving anything away, Joanna and Crockett earned even more of my respect for their poise in that scene!
  4. Make me feel as if I haven’t missed out on the best part of the journey. I hated to see the end of this one. I could have kept reading about Joanna and Crockett into the beginnings of their family and beyond. However, the meat of the story was shared. There was nothing left but more falling action. I didn’t miss the best parts of the journey at all.

Overall, I am in love with this story. I loved the characters and the way that Ms. Witemeyer weaves God throughout this work in a way that feels authentic. God was another character in this story; His will was sought and accomplished even by characters who didn’t know carrying out his plan. I love that Ms. Witemeyer didn’t bog me down in petticoats and parlors, but let her characterization and plot take me on a ride. I think this is the best romance I’ve read in a long time, Christian or otherwise.

I highly recommend you pick up this book.

Stealing the Preacher: ****/**** for characterization, plot, good employment of faith and God in the work, a dramatic climax, and nary a petticoat or a parlor.

XOXO (and happy reading!),

Erica

*I was given a free kindle version of this book to review. No compensation was provided for this review.