Sunday, April 7, 2013

Deep and thought-provoking, Regina Jennings' excellend novel, "Love in the Balance"

Love in the Balance, Ladies of Caldwell County Series #2   -     
        By: Regina Jennings
In her sequel to Sixty Acres and a Bride, Regina Jennings writes a thought-provoking novel of much greater depth than the publisher's description leads one to expect.  Molly Lovelace is not a twittering, empty-headed flirt unable to decide which suitor she likes better, but nor is she a calculating gold-digger fighting to control her attraction to a penniless, handsome cowboy; no, she is a conflicted young woman who is trying to balance honoring her parents and following her heart.  She knows precisely who she wants to marry, but when he doesn't come through, she follows her parents' wishes instead, which essentially leads to her ruin.

Make no mistake, Molly makes her own share of poor decisions.  What she does to appease her family is not always right or wise and hurts others besides herself - she could choose a more honest route.  However, she does not deserve the censure of the town for the results of her choice, let alone her own parents' scorn when she followed their wishes in the first place.  In spite of their faults, Molly loves her parents and wishes to please them. On the other side of the scale, Bailey, the man she loves, has none of the characteristics her parents are looking for in a husband for their only daughter. How does one find the balance?

Bailey also has his share of problems that compound Molly's. For one, he takes and quits any number of jobs, never settling, while he knows Molly is waiting on him to have a real income before marriage. She does not require him to be rich, but as a woman who knows money and excels at accounting, she knows that a steady income is necessary.  Because of his struggle with lust, Molly's reputation, which would otherwise have upheld against scrutiny, instead suffers fatally.  Had he behaved honorably from the get-go, who knows how their story would have been different?  Their relationship is an accurate representation of couples still today - as with Bailey, many young Christian men want to behave honorably with the women they love, but they still struggle with temptation; Bailey's error, like that of many in the face of temptation, is the failure to flee the moment it arises. 

There was so much growth in the book - both main characters mature and learn from their mistakes, but without losing their personalities and changing unbelievably. While I was not always happy with their choices, I liked both of the characters, and I feel that Molly really got the short end of the stick a number of times - she was not solely responsible for her problems. Jennings did an excellent job with the characters and twists to the plot.

Love in the Balance begs the question, "when conflicted, how do we find the balance honoring our parents and our own hearts?"  Only God holds the answer, but thankfully we can seek advice from those God has given us - wise friends, mentors, pastors, and, of course, Himself. 

Five out of five stars.  I received a free copy from Bethany House in exchange for my honest review, which I am not obligated to make positive.  All opinions expressed are my own.

Ladies of Caldwell County
Sixty Acres and a Bride
Love in the Balance
Caught in the Middle 

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