True confession time: I only requested Montana Rose because I have an unrequited love affair with all things Montana. I didn’t really pay any attention to the description of the book beyond the title, so it was a bit of a surprise to realize as I read that it was (in my view) a Christian romance. I lowered my expectations accordingly (having found previously that books with such an overt point of view, whatever it is, tend to have less-than-stellar writing and plotting) and kept reading.
How refreshing, then, to find that Montana Rose is a very good book. It is well-written, and the characters appealingly drawn. In a nutshell, a woman in 19th century Montana finds herself widowed and pregnant, an unacceptable condition in that time and place. She is forced into marriage with a local fellow (at her husband’s funeral, no less!) who is a virtual stranger, and struggles to make a life for herself and her family.
The Christian message is not subtle, but it fits smoothly within the narrative rather than sticking out like a sore thumb. It’s true, though, that I don’t have any beef with a Christian viewpoint, being one myself though not evangelical. Someone with a strong non-Christian worldview might find this book’s message overbearing.
As I said, there were some interesting plot “twists.” I dreaded the inevitable preaching about a woman learning that it is her Christian duty to be submissive and obedient to her husband, but that wasn’t the message at all. Cassie’s new husband, Red, is much more interested in molding Cassie into a wife who can be an equal partner for him in their hardscrabble frontier life.
Still, it’s hard for a Christian novel to generate much reader suspense over whether the good guys will prevail and the bad guys be thwarted. There’s really only one way for it all to work out, so the emphasis for me as a reviewer became whether the journey is enjoyable even when the destination is preordained. In the case of Montana Rose the answer, quite happily, is yes.