HOLDING THE FORT
The Fort Reno Series, Book 1
Genre: Historical Western Christian Romance
Date of Publication: December 5, 2017
Number of Pages: 353
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With Miss Bell as the Teacher, Everyone’s Bound to Learn an Interesting Lesson
Dance hall singer Louisa Bell has always lived one step from destitution. When she loses her job at the Cat-Eye Saloon, she has nowhere else to go but to her brother, a cavalry soldier stationed in Indian Territory. But he’s run afoul of his commanding officer. Unsure what she can do to help him and desperate for a job, she doesn’t protest when she’s mistaken for a governess at the fort. How hard can teaching really be?
Major Daniel Adams has his hands full at Fort Reno, especially raising two adolescent daughters alone. If this new governess doesn’t work out, his mother-in-law insists she’ll raise the girls herself–far away from the fort. Miss Bell bears little resemblance to Daniel’s notion of a governess–they’re not supposed to be so blamed pretty–but he finds himself turning a blind eye to her unconventional methods. Louisa has never faced so important a performance. Can she keep her act together long enough to help her brother and to secure the respectable future she’s sought for so long?
PRAISE FOR HOLDING THE FORT & THE FORT RENO SERIES:
“The first book in Jennings’ new Fort Reno series is a delightful read that helps solidify what a wonderful and imaginative writer Jennings is. She manages to create unique stories with interesting and well-developed characters while combining humor, mystery and a sprinkle of faith.”
–RT Book Reviews
“In this character-driven series launch, Jennings offers a powerful lesson on the freedom of truth and forgiveness wrapped in a delightful story of love against the odds.”
“This series launch is a charming historical romance set in 1880s Fort Reno, OK. . . . Jennings kicks off a new series with a light and enjoyable tale that will delight her fans as well as lovers of historical romance.”
Ok, I’ll admit it. I begged to review this book because of the cover. I could tell it was a period piece based on the backdrop and wardrobe. But it was the cute blonde in a pink dress with an armful of books that sold it to me.
It wouldn’t take much more to endear this book to me, but the main character, Louisa Bell, stole my heart. Anything could have happened and I would still love this book. A strong, independent woman who taught herself to sing beautifully, be still my heart. She could have easily settled by marrying or by taking on the oldest occupation, but she didn’t. No matter the hardships she has faced, she is still kind (but not a pushover!) and holds tight to people who are important to her.
We meet pretty much every character that existed in the West during Louisa’s journey: Native Americans, cowboys (more drunk than not), farmers, shopkeepers, religious folk, children, and military men. It’s great to see how she adapts to each situation. And while she never outright lies about anything, her talent for deception (or improvisation) finds her a comfortable living situation.
Only one situation in the novel felt heavy, as it was a political one. But it gave a nice inside look at the sort of dealings that took place during this time period. The atmosphere gets tense for a bit, but you never doubt that things will work out for the best. The same could be said for the romantic storyline as well. While Louisa is hiding very big secrets from the Major, you have a feeling that things will sort themselves out.
And that’s the only critique I have of this book. I would have liked something to knock me off balance and kept me flailing around for a bit. Other than that, I admire Jennings clean writing style and descriptions. The dialogue is delivered effortlessly and the characters are interesting and believable. I look forward to reading the next installment. I hope to see more of Caroline and Daisy in the coming books.
Regina Jennings is a graduate of Oklahoma Baptist University with a degree in English and a minor in history. She’s the winner of the National Readers’ Choice Award, a two-time Golden Quill finalist and a finalist for the Oklahoma Book of the Year Award. Regina has worked at the Mustang News and at First Baptist Church of Mustang, along with time at the Oklahoma National Stockyards and various livestock shows. She lives outside of Oklahoma City with her husband and four children.
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