Saturday, February 15, 2014

Book Review: Wildwood Creek by Lisa Wingate (2014)

Wildwood Creek (Moses Creek, #4)Wildwood Creek by Lisa Wingate
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

When Allie Kirkland's father died in a tragic car accident, he left a void that nothing could fill. Nothing except the idea of continuing in her father's chosen profession, the glitz and glamor of Hollywood film-making. Despite the disappointment of her family, mother, stepfather, and various half-siblings, Allie is determined to make a go of the Hollywood life, not in front of the camera, but behind. So when the opportunity crops up to intern with a company producing a historic reenactment village, she leaps at the chance. Little mysteries pop up here and there about Wildwood Creek, the town they are recreating, and none more mysterious than the story of Bonnie Rose, the school teacher of 1861 that many locals had claimed was a witch. Coinciding with Allie's story is the story of Bonnie Rose, the book altering between the voices of the two women, one a strong survivor, and the other learning that she's stronger than she thinks.

I confess to being a bit doubtful about the variation of characters. It's hard mentally to jump from one era to another within the same book. I've never much enjoyed the multi-generational stories that span over a hundred years. Because of that part of myself, I wish that Wildwood Creek had been told in two different books. Just when I started getting into Bonnie Rose's story, the voice switched over to Allie's life, and just when I invested myself in Allie's life, I was back with Bonnie Rose. The book is excellent, but I'm just not accustomed to that aspect of Ms. Wingate's style.

That issue aside, some books are just plain good. The writing, the characters, the setting, and Wildwood Creek is one of those books. Both Allie and Bonnie Rose are intelligent, relatable heroines. Bonnie Rose had suffered more than any young woman should have suffered, and her voice is ripe with the pain and fear, but also beautiful when she allows herself to hope. Allie is all spunk and twenty-first century heroine who happens to be just klutzy enough to make me laugh. Getting stuck in a window frame, indeed! I think that's something I might do! The downside is that Bonnie Rose's romantic interest is never fully developed, either one of them. The story just didn't have enough time, but it would have if Bonnie Rose had been given her own book. At least Allie had Blake, and he's developed enough, for the most part, that the reader likes him and gets to know him.

My brain clicks along in a logical way most of the time, unless I choose to turn it off, so there were parts of the story I just didn't buy. Like, what girl in her right mind who hasn't shaved her legs in weeks sneaks off in capris with the young man she loves? Umm, no, not going to happen in any civilized western country. And then there's the cell phone call that she should have made to her friend, but didn't. Kim has a cell phone and Allie could easily borrow one to try and find her, but she never even thinks about it. So, there were a couple of little niggly things that snapped me out of the story's pacing, but most books have at least one or two so it didn't bother me too much.

Overall, Ms. Wingate is a very engaging author whose writing voice is solid and intriguing. It could not have been easy writing from the perspectives of two such different women in two such different time periods, but she managed it with flying colors. I loved all of the characters that I was supposed to love, and despised the ones I was supposed to despise. The book is not a typical romance, but has suspenseful elements interwoven in such a way as to make the story that much more intriguing. All in all, Wildwood Creek is a fun, innovative read, and fortunately for me, I wasn't completely lost upon discovering it was 4th in the Moses Creek series when I hadn't read any of the previous books. It stands solidly on its own two feet and speaks to fans of both historic and contemporary Christian fiction.

- I received this book free of charge from Bethany House Publishers via Netgalley in exchange for an honest review which I have given.

For the rest of my reviews, see my page HERE.

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