Tuesday, December 30, 2014

BookLook Column January 2015

“Softly Falling” by Carla Kelly

Snowed in after Christmas with a stack of new books is a wonderful problem. I’m glancing out the window as Mark shoots snow into the wind with the snow blower and listening to Buble and Menzel sing “Baby It’s Cold Outside”.

I just finished reading “Softly Falling” by Carla Kelly curled up on the couch under a warm blanket in front of the fireplace. It was the perfect choice for a snowy day. When I contacted Kelly and told her I was enjoying her book, she offered to send me a hot rock for my feet.

The historical romance is set on a cattle ranch in Wyoming Territory during the terrible winter of 1886. Lily Carteret has been sent away from her uncle’s wealthy home, to live with her wayward father.  Clarence Carteret married Lily’s mother, the daughter of a slave and a Spanish settler, during the first of several failed attempts to manage his family’s businesses in the Caribbean, India, and Australia.  

After the death of her mother, 5 year-old Lily was sent to boarding school in England where she encountered prejudice and rejection as a mixed-race child. Miss Tilton’s school taught Lily how to close her heart and keep her chin up, but it didn’t prepare her for life on the frontier as a young woman.

The illiterate cowboy Jack Sinclair is the perfect partner for the well-educated lady Lilly. Sinclair is the ranch foreman and becomes her knight in shining armor. They support and teach each other as the novel progresses, and we admire their qualities of bravery and determination.

There is much to respect and love in Jack, Lilly, and the tight-knit cast of characters. Ranch hands and townsfolk have to come to Wyoming Territory from foreign countries and across America for a fresh start.

Since Kelly is a careful researcher, I know her historical facts are accurate. As she weaves them into the story, the authenticity of language and setting helps readers slip easily back in time and place. And isn’t this one of the reasons we pick up a book?

The only downside to reading a Carla Kelly book is that she quickly puts you into the story as a sympathetic observer. I felt cold and hungry until I turned up the thermostat, grabbed a left-over Christmas cookie and went back to reading on the couch.

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