These two books are the first in the Love Comes Softly series by Janette Oke. These books are classified as Gentle Books, meaning they do not contain excessive sex, violence, etc. It was a welcome break from my recent reading! These books are published by Bethany House - a known Christian publishing house.
Surprisingly, I enjoyed the first book more than I expected. Many Christian-based fictional stories are either overly sentimental, overly wrought, preachy, or just poorly written. Other Christian fiction I have read will have an interesting story which is then interrupted by a preachy sermon of the author, sometimes more than once. This book is is not preachy or sentimental. It does weave Christian elements and ideas into the story, after all the characters are Christian. The story's primary focus are on the two main characters, western pioneers, who marry for convenience. The reader is left wondering if everything will work out or not.
The second book was not as good as the first. I guess that is typical of most series fiction. The second book skips from scene to scene and covers a much longer timeline. You certainly get the sense the author is trying to rush her story by eliminating details and character development. The first book covers one year time, the second covers about 15 years in the same number of pages.
The series has often been compared to the Little House on the Prairie series. Michael Landon Jr., has been involved in making movies based on these books for the Hallmark Channel. They are family friendly films and feel a lot like the original Little House series. They have brought Hallmark channel some of their highest ratings in the last few years. Michael Landon Jr. just released a fourth movie based on the series. I have been impressed with his dedication to bringing family-friendly, Christian films to the screen. Still, the movies have simplified the stories and eliminated a lot of characters.
Book Rating: 3 stars
Next up: Paper Moon by Joe David Brown