GENRE: HISTORICAL ROMANCE
PUBLISHER: BETHANY HOUSE
PUBLICATION DATE: FEBRUARY 01, 2012 RATING: 7 OUT OF 10 – GOOD
PROS: Good moral lessons; sweet romantic story
CONS: Secondary characters seem caricatured; mystery isn’t much of a mystery; romance is a bit predictable
Sadie Wagner would do anything to help support her family financially, but her true dream is to sing. When a job opportunity opens up in the small town of Goldtree, Kansas and comes with the possibility of being able to sing in an opera house, Sadie can’t help but think that God has answered all of her dreams. Her initial experiences of working at the mercantile in Goldtree and singing in the luxurious yet bizarrely-located basement opera house run incredibly smoothly, and there’s the added bonus of the new sheriff, Thad McKane, who always seems to be around to lend a hand. Sadie has no idea that Thad has been hired specifically to track down the bootleggers who are manufacturing and selling illegal alcohol and could potentially destroy the town’s reputation. Thad’s struggling to find a lead, but it looks like the crime could be more closely tied to Sadie than either of them expect. When Thad starts to get an inkling of what’s truly happening in Goldtree, both of them are tested. Sadie has to decide how far she’s willing to go to support her family, and Thad begins to question what calling God has truly placed on his life; is he meant to be preaching or protecting?
I’ve only read a couple of Kim Vogel Sawyer’s novels, but I can already tell why she’s so popular in the Christian historical fiction genre. While I’ll be the first to admit that she tends to follow what some would call “predictable” romantic plots, her novels never fail to entertain and always leave me feeling content. Song of My Heart is the epitome of the “feel good” novel. I knew where the romance was going from the first page and figured out the mystery early on, but that didn’t make me want to quit reading. I still wanted to see how the characters reached their inevitable happy ending. A good novel isn’t all about the conclusion, but rather the journey that the characters take to reach this ending. After all, if this wasn’t the case, then why would publishers continue to publish romance novels?
Although I enjoyed reading about Sadie singing in the opera house, I’d have to say that my favourite character in Song of My Heart was actually the hero, Thad. Sadie didn’t really have much to overcome as a character, but Thad certainly had a lot to deal with. His tough childhood led him to believe that he should be a preacher in order to atone for his father’s sins, and he glorifies the work of ministers. I was cautious initially about this storyline as I do think that a lot of Christians feel that they should be called to work in ministry, and that being a minister or doing mission work is more important to God than being a doctor or a high school teacher. Thad is just as confused about this. He enjoys working as a sheriff, and really feels productive in helping people out around the small town of Goldtree, but it takes him a while to realise that perhaps this is the job he’s been called to, and not the traditional sense of “ministry”. I was really pleased with the way Kim approached this topic, as I thought for a while that this might be another book that glorified church ministry above all else, but Kim very tactfully demonstrates how different occupations can equally bring glory to God. She doesn’t belittle the work of ministers, but nor does she suggest that being a minister is more worthy than being a sheriff. I’m sure Thad’s lesson will strike a chord with many readers and make them consider what God has truly called them to do.
While Song of My Heart has a strong hero and an endearing heroine, the secondary characters felt quite caricatured at times. Initially I found them quite amusing, but after a while the humour seemed to wear off. Melva and Shelva, the sisters who run the mercantile, were two characters that I particularly found more annoying than amusing by the end of the book. I think that all of the side-characters did have the potential to be engaging, but the traits that made them stand out became too exaggerated to truly be realistic. And if believability is what you’re looking for, you may find the mystery aspect of this novel a bit disappointing as well. I’m not sure about other readers of this novel, but I certainly figured out who was behind the illegal alcohol as soon as his character was introduced. I didn’t mind this too much as none of the other characters in the novel knew who was behind the illegal activity, so it was entertaining to witness the mystery unfolding around them.
While Song of My Heart isn’t one of the strongest historical novels I’ve read, it won’t disappoint in providing Kim’s signature blend of romance, mystery and endearing protagonists. Long-term fans of Kim Vogel Sawyer will definitely be satisfied with this offering, and even if the romance and mystery were a bit predictable, this book is sure to put a smile on your face.
Review title provided by Bethany House.