Monday, April 20, 2015

Alphabet Soup Challenge: Lorraine Heath - Sweet Lullaby

The daughter of a prosperous rancher she became pregnant--and was abandoned by the father of her child...
A ranchhand on the Lazy A, he dreamed of starting a life on his land in Texas--if he could find a woman to share it with...
Desperate to avoid a scandal, Rebecca's father made Jake the shocking proposition: marry his daughter and be a father to her child. Jake had always loved her from afar; now was his chance to forget the pain of his upbringing and build a loving home for three. But could Rebecca forget the promises of a lover who vanished like the wind--and follow Jake to a new life?

Comment: Some books have been on my TBR for a long time. Not as long as they've been published but many years anyway. This I don't even remember bit more than 4 years for sure. It's the first stand alone the author published and despite not being the first thing by her I've read, it still was forgotten in the pile. This month I decided to finally give it a go.

This is the story of Jake and Rebecca. Jake has had a terrible childhood and growing up but he's one of the most steady and caring human beings ever. He works at the ranch of Rebecca's father and he's been in love with Rebecca for a while.
Rebecca is pregnant and her baby's father has gone away without telling her when - or if - he would be coming back. Her father is angry at her and wants to marry to someone and he picks Jake because he's a good rancher and it a good man to take care of things after he dies.
But Jake and Rebecca take action to their own hands and step by step they start to grow something special for themselves, even when clouds arise further away...

This book was published back in 1994 and it seems books written on the 90s, especially close to the second half or in it- at least those I've read and remember - , have a special flavor and they feel like they were written today but in an older style, which I appreciate a lot. I think historicals in particular seemed to have a little special thing when they were written years ago, something historicals today don't seem to have whether because they have too much sex or too much contemporary writing details, I don't have the technical words to explain, it's just my way of seeing it.

I liked the story, especially Jake. He has to be one of the most amazing heroes ever and I don't know why he isn't mentioned more often in best heroes of  historical books. Here is a man that had an horrible childhood but all the bed things done to him didn't affect his personality nor his values nor his loyalty and honor. He works hard, he is fair to those he considers friends, he treats others well, he loves a girl but he never tries to influence her mind, he treats her well, he sacrifices things for her and he even lets her feel things her own way and he proves to her her happiness if the most important thing on the face of the Earth!
Does this mean he's perfect? Of course not, he trusts a little too easily, he should be a bit more demanding even if that cost him some good opinions and he surely should have told her how he really felt about her choices because although we can't change someone's opinions just because, we could try to make them see our POV. He tries to convince himself life isn't going to be what he thought so he does things he doesn't really want to. But Jake is amazing, despite his faults.

So the heroine, she is left pregnant but she has choices. She didn't have to marry Jake although it's highly inferred she had to; society rules to consider.
So she marries a man who loves her but she keep thinking about the man that left her. She thinks things would be different if only she could wait but she knows time isn't helping her so she makes a choice based on what she needs and not what she feels. I understand why it was so but she liked Jake as a friend and she seemed thankful for his help and the wonderful things he did for her and her unborn baby. But love didn't seem to exist even if she had warm feelings towards him.
But someone in her position could really hope to have the freedom someone nowadays has? Of dreaming about past lovers coming back or going to look for them? Rebecca made a choice but she kept knowing her first choice was out there and who knew how things could be with him, so she kept thinking about him even if only once in while.
Plus, she knew things about ranching Jake didn't because he grew up poor, unlike her. Somehow that came across to me, how she acted a bit superior to him, not condescending, but the idea didn't leave me while I was reading.

This couple has things to overcome but after a while their relationship balanced more and despite Rebecca's clear lack of appreciation for Jake and his actions - although she kept saying so here and there - things turned out alright and even the secondary characters seem to have a special place and all was well. Until Rebecca had to make a choice again and honesty she dumb as a door in my opinion. Some people just can't go past the "what if", putting aside steadiness, love, companionship, passion too, caring, loyalty, fun, romance, all th things one could wish for, in hopes of achieving something they think it's best. I totally understand the idea that we should try because we need to move on or tell ourselves we don't have regrets, but they way this went along, after Rebecca having proof of her own feelings and how Jake loved her and still even thinking she had to choose, much less actually making a choice... come on. Rebecca definitely isn't on my top heroines...

In the end all ended up well, there's a wonderful HEA with past bad decisions coming to ask forgiveness and things are amazing. 
But not perfect. How would someone live knowing it was chosen yes, but not first choice, no matter what. I think the story is powerful and beautiful and full of acts of good deeds and dedication but it wasn't totally perfect for me because of some of the heroine's choices, both in acts and thoughts.
But it's how the story is told, so...

Sweet Lullaby is one of those older stories that have a timeless identity, it feels as amazing today as it surely felt 20 years ago or 10 years ago. Even more so if we find them for the first time like I did.
I think the plot is old fashioned but the author treated it with such care and showed it with such talent, I feel like those characters could be next to me and I would cherish them like I don't do with characters from other books.
This is a good author and good writing to dream about in future reads.
Grade: 8/10

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