Sunday, November 28, 2010

Within My Heart by Tamera Alexander

Rating: 4 stars

Within My Heart is the emotional conclusion to Tamera Alexander's Timber Ridge Reflections trilogy.  The spotlight of this novel is on Rachel Boyd, a stubborn and guarded widow, who is raising two young sons and struggling to maintain her ranch. As Rachel's feelings develop for the town doctor, Rand Brookston, she must also confront matters of the heart.  Both Rachel and Rand are scarred by past tragedies, but the health problems of a beloved townsman teach them valuable lessons about life, love, and faith.

Tamera Alexander is a masterful story-teller with the ability to create multi-faceted novels with developed plots, realistic characters, stunning scenery, and interesting historical detail. Within My Heart is yet another example of Alexander’s talent as an author.  Both the main and sub plots of this novel focus on the strong emotions of grief and fear.  As a result, Within My Heart strikes a sadder note than its two predecessors, but the overall message is hopeful.

After reading the other two novels in the series, I was glad to have the opportunity to hear Rachel’s story.  Rachel is a very stubborn woman, and one of the most stubborn characters that I have met in my recent readings.  At times, I was a bit frustrated by Rachel’s sensitivity, especially when she found herself annoyed by Rand’s unintentional poor choices of words.  Because her character is fully developed, it is easy for the reader to understand Rachel’s personality, and ultimately empathize with her struggles.

Overall, I enjoyed From a Distance and Beyond This Moment a bit more than Within My Heart.  The final installment in the Timber Ridge Reflections series is still a worthy read, as are all of Tamera Alexander’s novels.  Many novels that present such emotional subject matter as loss and grief are often melodramatic.  Alexander covers these topics without the melodrama.  The result is a well-crafted and touching novel that will long remain within readers’ hearts.

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