Karen Baney, A Heart Renewed.
Fiction eBook 110,920 words
At the start, let me tell you that the author Karen Baney is my daughter. So you can decide if I am prejudiced in favor of the author as a father or as a critic.
When she began talking about writing a novel, I encouraged her and gave her my advice about writing and self-publishing. She read and consider other people’s ideas, too. I’m glad to say she’s proven herself as an author. I am proud of Karen.
Now to this book. A Heart Renewed is the second in her Prescott Pioneers series. So it’s her second book. Since this one, she has published two more books. How good a book is it?
As a critic, I think it is quite good, primarily for two reasons. Karen has done a marvelous job drawing believable characters who populate her story and give the plot its action. She has also done her research on the era and its lifestyle and managed to make it a well-integrated part of her novel.
Julia Colter experienced a terrible personal trauma. The author has explored what the devastating experience means to her and how she responds to it. Julia has a volatile personality and learns harsh lessons, making her believe she will never find happiness. But through her interactions with the other characters in the story, Julia grows. Her faith regains its composure and develops into a mature belief as the plot progresses.
Adam Larson is a Christian with deep convictions who learns patience while dealing with Julia’s up and down moods. He grows from being a bewildered man, made so by his sister and Julia as they find ways to deal with Julia’s experience, to being a strong support for Julia in trying times. Other characters, Will and Hannah, whom readers met in the author’s first novel, also grow and develop in the course of the story.
Karen has drawn her characters well, with clear portraits, allowing them to grow beyond their starting points. When I finished reading A Heart Renewed, I felt I knew them as people.
The backdrop of the author’s story is Prescott, Arizona in pioneer days. She has become very familiar with the ground she covered and has made it a realistic and credible place. Having visited modern Prescott with Karen, I can see how she took into account the growth and change of the community, as well as pushed back over the years to what it must have been like at its founding. She made Prescott in the 1800’s a place I could know as a reader. This is what an historical fiction writer should do.
Since this is a Christian romance novel, I’d like to express myself about Karen’s handling of one of my pet peeves. Faith and scripture. Too many Christian authors use these aspects of their belief like bludgeons, slapping the Bible into their books to score points with their believing readers, but alienating readers who aren’t Christians. Karen does not do this. She has brought out her faith and the Bible’s message in a fashion that makes this aspect of her novel genuine. The characters struggle with their beliefs and their meaning, and they read scripture as part of their life experience not as way for the author to score points.
As a father and a critic, I would heartily recommend that you read my daughter’s book.