Thursday, December 29, 2022

Emilie Richards - The Color of Light

For more than a decade minister Analiese Wagner has felt privileged to lead her parishioners along a well-lit path. Her commitment has never been seriously tested until the frigid night she encounters a homeless family huddling in the churchyard. Offering them shelter in a vacant parish house apartment and taking teenage Shiloh Fowler—a girl desperate to rescue her parents—under her wing, she tests the loyalty and faith of her congregation.
Isaiah Colburn, the Catholic priest who was her first mentor and the man she secretly longed for, understands her struggles only too well. At a crossroads, he's suddenly reappeared in her life, torn between his priesthood and his growing desire for a future with Analiese.
Divided between love and vows they've taken, both must face the possibilities of living very different lives or continuing to serve their communities. With a defeated family's trust and her own happiness on the line, Analiese must define for herself where darkness ends and light begins.

Comment: This is the fourth and final installment in the Goddesses Anonymous series by Emilie Richards. I've read the first book last year and it wasn't that special, but since the premise of the second was quite appealing, I went for it already this year and liked it a lot. Then I also liked the third one and, of course, I couldn't avoid the fourth and here it is. 

I think this one was another well done story, which means the first was the weakest, in my opinion... I'm glad I've decided to keep going with the series after the first wasn't as great to me (which I don't do often, I confess...).

In this book we have the attention on Analiese Wagner, the minister of the Church of the Covenent and one of "goddesses" of the series' title. The plot begins when Ana decides to help a homeless family for a few days, letting them live in a church apartment until something else can be done for them. She knows some parishioners won't like the idea but Ana believes in doing the right thing and live by the truths of her calling, which is to help others and guide them.

As Ana struggles with these issues, Father Isaiah Colburn, her mentor and friend since the time she felt like becoming a minister reapers in her life and she feels conflicted because he has helped her understanding the fulfillment of being a minister, even though their Churches are different, but she has always felt some attraction to him and to his values, she isn't certain she can cope having him around. But what if he is doubting his vows as well, could it be that they have a lot more in common after all?

In terms of structure, this is a story which can be read as a standalone. The plot and development make sense and the end is enriching and the characters seem to have their fates organized and planned. However, after having read the other books I feel the experience is so much better having read those too. It's true that we have glimpses of and information about secondary characters in this book, some of which have been protagonists in the previous stories, but not to the point it feels there is too much going on. Still, everything feels closer and more heartfelt just having previous notion of what happened to them.

This said, the story works quite well, although if there is one issue is that sometimes the going back and forth on decisions or choices can make the plot feel choppy or a little annoying. I think this is realistic, never are we able to solve huge problems or conflicts quickly but reading about it can be a bit tiring. I also was on the fence of how Ana and Isaiah debated their personal feelings vs their professional duties. I mean, I liked that they were thoughtful and considerate people, but for a romance sometimes this means things going on too slow....

Ana is the main character of this story and we get to know her pretty well, not only by her thoughts but mainly by her actions. She believes in her calling, she believes she is doing the best she can and she wants to help more than show her status. This creates some tension, especially among the more conservative people in the Church's board and such and I found myself a bit lost at times, since this is reality I'm not familiar with but I am a fan of Ana's behavior and work.

The attention is on Ana and her self doubts and work, her relationship with mentor and friend Isaiah, who she believes only sees her as a friend too but we get aware pretty quickly there's something more between them. I was left thinking quite a lot about decisions and choices while they debated their issues, discussed feelings and duty... I think some of this was a bit too much but at the same time, the subject isn't easy. I think this part of the plot went a path some probably wouldn't be happy with but that to me made sense, considering how they talked and agreed on several topics.

Another subject which has a lot of focus is the situation of the family Ana helps. The family has four members and we learn most things from Shiloh, the daughter, and the one who seems to be making most decisions now. Their situation is difficult, so alike many other families in the world, and Ana helps them temporarily at first but then with more conviction. Shiloh as a character is very likable and I was rooting for her to take the opportunities she was given and I also loved how she made bonds with Cristy and Harmony, main characters from previous books. Shiloh also gets involved in a tricky situation, which thankfully didn't go as bad as it could, so the author clearly expanded her subjects and challenges a lot.

I liked the reflections I was able to do because of how the story is developed. Many things made me think, what if it was me facing such dilemmas and situations? Of course this happens and can be so with any book, but here I feel the goal was well accomplished. I feel very glad I read this book and it was the perfect one to read around Christmas, not because it is set during the festivities but because it encompasses a lot of the Christmas spirit, especially this: people should be kind to one another.
Grade: 8/10

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