17 March 2016

A Lady in Defiance by Heather Blanton Reviewed by Carrie Fancett Pagels



A Lady in Defiance (Romance in the Rockies - Book 1)
Audiobook Review - Audiobook released October 2015, narrator Angel Clark

Reviewed by Carrie Fancett Pagels

Strong Voice - Fiesty Heroine!
Heather Blanton's strong voice carries this hearty story set in American west in a shabby mining town that aspires to be more. At least its self-appointed owner Charles McIntyre wants Defiance to tarnish off its reputation to entice the railroad to come to "his" town.

It has been two years since I first picked up the Kindle version of Heather Blanton's powerful story. I will admit I was put off when the heroine's husband (SPOILER ALERT!!!) who quickly became a man I found very heroic, died. I felt tricked. Cheated.  I was angry. I put it aside.  Then I recently decided to listen to the audiobook version. The narration was very good. I decided to give the story a chance.

My son has recently been talking about how authors are increasingly having an anti-hero as a hero. I am not keen on this trend. On the other hand, it gives the character a potentially huge character arc. That's what you have in this novel. McIntyre isn't remotely lovable when we meet him in the ghastly godless town of Defiance. 

I really loved Naomi and her sisters. Naomi is one of the strongest heroines I have encountered in a long time. I would even go so far as to compare her characterization, and Ms. Blanton's creation of her, to that of the classic Francine Rivers book that is so highly acclaimed.

There is not a lot of spit and polish nor much veneer on this western story. Gritty determination sets the town. Multiple points of view do make the story line a tad confusing at times especially on audiobook. But, given that this is a series, my expectation is that in the next stories we'll hear more from those characters.

There's a wicked antagonist you will love to hate, which presents a bit of a conundrum. Because as much as we detest her, she's in part been pushed there by MacIntyre, the anti-hero/hero! Wickedness and satanic worship surround the innocent sisters as they fight to start a new life and a business in this lawless town.

Bibliotherapy: Loss of a spouse, loss of life's dreams, alcoholism, need for faith, perseverance,  unplanned pregnancy and new beginnings. Ms. Blanton's dedication of the story to her sister, included at the beginning of the book, is very moving.

Great narration, strong voice, powerful characterization, and strong and unique storyline make this a compelling listen!

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GIVEAWAY: Surprise Box of Books to one commenter!

PLEASE ANSWER WITH A COMMENT TO ENTER: Naomi went through many trials on her journey west. What encouragement would you offer to someone who has lost a wonderful husband?

47 comments:

  1. Thanks so much for your insightful review, CARRIE! I have heard so much about Heather and her books, but haven't had the pleasure of reading one yet.

    I would encourage someone who has lost her husband to give herself all the time in the world she needs to grieve...no matter how long that takes & what others may say about it. I would encourage her to cling to God's hand, and stay close to family and friends who love and support her. I would encourage her to find a Christian widows' support group in a church or online. And lastly I would tell her it WILL get better because God is a healer of the broken-hearted!

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    1. Thanks so much Diana! Great advice, too! Hugs!

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  2. I have not heard the audio version of this book. I have a paperback copy. Your review intrigued me to listen to it as well. Thanks for your thoughts!

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  3. Carrie, thank you so much. I had no idea you were going to review A Lady in Defiance. And thanks for being honest. There is a lot of historical truth to this story, which is why some of the characters are what they are. Mining towns were very ugly places. I'll give you an example: in Telluride, CO in the 1890s', there was a street in the Red Light District called Popcorn Alley -- because the doors to the cribs swung open and shut so fast. To say the least, that was a grim existence. And God was there, even in that darkness. For no reason I can explain, I wrote this story as a way to deal with my sister's death, and it just took off. God is good. So, thank you again! It is a bit dark, gritty, and at times, hopeless ... and that is when His light shines the brightest. <3

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    1. That attention to historical detail really shows through, Heather. That is so sad about what went on.

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  4. I have many friends who have lost their husbands. I sit with them when I can, hug them when they need it, pray for them, and keep sending them encouraging letters or cards. I talk about happy memories that I have of them both. I encourage them to mourn their loss as long as they need to, and try to avoid nagging about anything.

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    1. You are such a prayer warrior, Kaye! Thanks for sharing!

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    2. Yes, widows and widoers need their time to grieve. I have been truly moved by the women who have read my book and told me it helped them cope. I would have never guessed that!

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  5. I read this book when it first came out and loved it. I am not familiar with audio books yet, but I'm sure I will be trying them out very soon! I loved the story and your review, Carrie, brought back all the reasons I enjoyed it so much. Thanks :)
    A box of books - now that's intriguing....lol

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    1. Thanks Betti! Glad you loved Heather's compelling book!

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  6. Very good review Carrie, seems like a great book to read !!! the views of the other ladies, make a lot of sense, will be helpful when needed... I will certainly keep their idea in my mind. I really want to read this now Carrie, thank you !!!! A lot of what is touched on is tip toed around, this books makes it real. Have a blessed day !!! Rosemary rfoley at salemstate dot edu

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    1. Hi Chicki! I think you would really enjoy this story!!! Hugs!

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    2. Being real is very important to me, Rosemary. I want my fiction to help people. I pray a lot over my books, hoping the Holy Spirit will use them!

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  7. Since I have not been in that place, it would be hard for me know what would truly encourage my friend as she goes through something that I can only imagine would be devastating. When I am hurting it helps me to know my friend is there for me to cry with, to spout my feelings to and not judge me, and to continually direct me back to the Lord, His word and His promises to me. So I think that is what I would do for a friend going through the death of her husband.

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    1. You must be an incredible friend, Heather. Great thoughts, thanks!

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    2. And encouragement, Heather, is golden to hurting people. You're a good friend!

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  8. Haven't read this yet, but it is in my TBR pile! The advice I would give is to go fully through the grieving process and know that it is ok to remember him. Re-live those happy memories often in order to grow and heal.

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    1. Hey Susan, I'd recommend the audiobook as it really brings Heather's story to life. Great advice!

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  9. I'm not sure what I would say to a friend who has lost her husband. I would probably just hug her and cry with her.

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    1. Hey Jan, sometimes that is all a friend needs! A shoulder to cry on! Thanks!

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    2. Jan, that is probably exactly what a grieving friend needs. After all, you can't make them heal any faster. Only God can!

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  10. If I had a friend that lost a husband, I would sit with her when she needed a friend, listen when she wanted to talk, wipe her tears when she needed to cry, hug her when she needed comforting, and when I wasn't with her, I would reassure her that I was only a phone call away.

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    1. Thanks for those thoughts, Melanie. One thing I'd add to that would be to call her regularly and check on her, especially if she isn't reaching out.Hugs!

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    2. That's beautiful, Melanie. Be an oak for her when the storm rages. Just to know that she can count on you would be worth its weight in gold!

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  11. Just to be there if they need you. Sometimes you don't need words.

    marypres(AT)gmail(DOT)com

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    1. I have a plaque from a friend that basically says just that -- a friend is there when the time for words is past.

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    2. Yes, be a witness in the silence. Beautiful!

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  12. Enjoyed reading your review CARRIE, having read this book I found it very interesting! Not sure if you remember much from my review of it, but I absolutely loved this novel of Heather's! I loved everything, especially the dark 'hero', lol. :) I knew there was good in him and it was so satisfying to see it come out through help from God and Naomi. Made for a very powerful story!

    In answer to your question CARRIE, I can't say much more than Diana as to what I'd do. The only other thing to mention, is I'd try to help them to smile and laugh after a time as that can be very therapeutic.

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    1. I absolutely remembered your excellent review of Heather's book, Noela! I even went back to copy some of the material for this post! I love her new cover, don't you? the last one was good but this one is even better! I agree about the laughter if you can help a grieving friend laugh, that is healing.

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    2. The Bible says "laughter doeth a heart good, but a broken heart, who can stand?" That tells me that laughter is amazing medicine!

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  13. That one day soon they would be reunited in heaven. cheetahthecat1986ATgmailDOTcom

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    1. Thanks, Kim! I'd be careful with that one in case my friend was depressed. (I was a psychologist for twenty-five years and depending on the circumstances this can be a helpful thing to say but for the depressed, it is not generally, so that's a tough call on whether to say this.)

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    2. And what a profound hope that is!

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  14. That is such a difficult question to answer because losing someone as close to you as a husband would be so unbelievable devastating. The only thing I could say is to go to the Word of the Lord and ask Him to show you what He wants you to know. Pour you heart out to Him and be honest with all your emotions not holding anything back, then saturate your mind with and memorize His promises of how He will take care of you and how much He weeps with you and understands. Every time your mind brings up anger and fear, repeat His promises, sing songs to glorify Him or even just say His powerful name over and over if that is all you can do. He will honor it and start the healing process. Also to talk about how youvare feeling with true Believers with whom you completely trust. My mother list the love of her life, my father, in a small plane crash when I was two and my sister was 9. 8 remember that she literally went into her closet iften after we went to bed to cry out to the Lord. She and my father were only 34 when that tragedy happened. She would finally marry a wonderful man 6 years later.

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    1. Wow, Connie, your mom gave you a wonderful example of how to grieve as a strong Christian woman. Thanks for sharing!

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    2. And, hence, there is healing. But that was a long 6 years, I'm sure!

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  15. That is such a difficult question to answer because losing someone as close to you as a husband would be so unbelievable devastating. The only thing I could say is to go to the Word of the Lord and ask Him to show you what He wants you to know. Pour you heart out to Him and be honest with all your emotions not holding anything back, then saturate your mind with and memorize His promises of how He will take care of you and how much He weeps with you and understands. Every time your mind brings up anger and fear, repeat His promises, sing songs to glorify Him or even just say His powerful name over and over if that is all you can do. He will honor it and start the healing process. Also to talk about how youvare feeling with true Believers with whom you completely trust. My mother list the love of her life, my father, in a small plane crash when I was two and my sister was 9. 8 remember that she literally went into her closet iften after we went to bed to cry out to the Lord. She and my father were only 34 when that tragedy happened. She would finally marry a wonderful man 6 years later.

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  16. Thanks for the good,honest review Carrie! Sounds like an interesting complex story. Hope to read it sometime! lynnefeuerstein(at)aol(dot)com

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    1. This makes for a compelling listen, Lynne! I hope you get to read this book soon!

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  17. A box of books? Now that's enticing...

    sclaucheATgmailDOTcom

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    1. Uh oh, you didn't answer the question, Sarah! :( We were looking for encouragement for someone who had lost a spouse.

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  18. It's so much easier to comfort a Christian spouse, if their loved one was a Christian. First, I would assure her/him of the fact that the spouse is in heaven. After that, it totally depends on the situation. Whatever is said should be personal and said with love and caring. A commitment to help the person should be sincere and then we should follow through. As a widow myself, I have had some experience with spouses who are not Christians, and usually there isn't alot I can say if the spouse is grieving about where her loved one might be. I try to concentrate on helping the living spouse take one day or one hour at a time, and then support her in any way I can. At some point, when the time is right, I have given some widows Randy Alcorn's book, Heaven. I've read it twice and find it very encouraging.

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    1. Thanks so much for sharing, Kay. I agree with that one hour one day at a time. What an awful loss to go through in losing a precious spouse! I'm so sorry you have had to go through this, Kay. But bless you for sharing your help with others!

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    2. KayM, that is good advice, b/c if the spouse was not a Believer, well, there isn't hope. That is devastating and I can only imagine how gentle the conversation would have to be!

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  19. FANTASTIC REVIEW CARRIE! My advice would be to allow yourself to grieve. Hold on to Jesus and He will carry you through...

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