I've read a lot of books set in Texas but I have to say that this one gave me a real feel for Texan life. The author's passion for her home state exudes in every scene. From the town rallying around their returning war hero to everyone celebrating the high school football games and homecoming and all the detailed ranch scenes -- I got a patriotic thrill reading it all...and I'm Canadian! Nate's thoughts sums it up beautifully. "This love of family and community was more than a tradition. It was the heart of the town." (p. 68)
Nate's all about love for God and country and he's paid dearly for his part in serving overseas. Gillenwater deals with the sensitive subject of PTSD with understanding and compassion. It makes for a complicated romance though. But a sweet one nevertheless.
I loved this story. I loved having a change from my usual genre of Christian historical romance. I loved the characters - they'd been traumatized, but wanted to move on as better people, with the help of God , a strong family support system, and Christian praying professionals. I loved the insight into post-traumatic stress disorder - in their own way, whether due to war, or divorce, both Jenna and Nate were suffering the effects of trauma. I loved the way their families loved and supported them both. I loved the way the community pulled together after the fire. It was all so good, I bought the rest of the series straight away and cant wait to read more.
I started this book about a year ago, while being busy with school and sports I finally found time to read it in parts. This year, I took time one night and started from the beginning and read it all the way to the end. I fell in love with the characters. The detail of the characters made them feel so real. How she explained the emotions of the characters as well. I am absolutely in love with this book. I will definitely be buying this book and saving it to go back to when I need to get away from the world. I loved this book a lot.
During my free time over the last couple of weeks, I reread Jenna's Cowboy by Sharon Gillenwater. I really enjoyed this book the first time, as I did this time. My sister was surprised I was reading it again since my stack of unread books looms so tall. I must admit, I was a bit surprised myself. The reason I picked up this book again is for research. My current work-in-progress (WIP) deals with Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder, which is a big topic in Jenna's Cowboy. I wanted to make sure my story didn't echo the same ideals as Sharon's. Thankfully, our stories are completely different. (If they weren't, I would have helped myself to a good dose of rewrites.)
Jenna's Cowboy is the story of Jenna Callahan Colby, a single mother who is trying to find her way in the world again after her husband left her. When Nate Langley returns from war and takes her up on a job offer, Jenna realizes he's battle-scarred . . . and just as attractive as he was in high school, if not more so. Nate struggles with PTSD and the effects it has on his mind. In fact, he wonders if he'll ever remember what normal looks like. Will the two of them discover a way to love each other around the struggles they both face? Or will their fears block the way to their chance at a happy ending?
This story is set in west Texas. It's neat for me to read stories set in Texas since that's the state I'm from. Recognizing town names (such as Odessa and Dallas) is always fun, and it means so much more when you've been to them. It makes it easier to connect with the story when you know exactly where on the map it takes place. Even more so, when you can draw upon your memories of a place to make it more realistic in your mind.
The character Nate and the difficulties he faced drew up a deep empathy within me. He was so believable, I felt like he was real. My heart really went out to him, especially when Dub told Jenna, "War changes men, honey. Sometimes for the better. Sometimes not." I think having a character in my own story go through similar things (flashbacks and new fears) added to my reading experience this time around. It lent me an even greater understanding of how difficult coming home from war really must be.
Sharon, thank you for such a sweet tale of love and dealing with deep-rooted fears. It touched my heart both times I read it. The Callahans of Texas series remains a go-to for me when I need a comfort read.