Hope, Hearts & Heroes Blog

Thoughts And A Review

Photo by Polina Portnaya on Unsplash

At Love’s Command Adapted for Blog Post

Karen Witemeyer

Five Stars

Though I do not plan to make a habit of posting my reviews on this blog, I am making an exception with this one and will most likely do so for others from time to time.

I spent some time pondering how to write a review of Karen Witemeyer’s Historical Romance book At Love’s Command. After seeing so many negative reviews of this book based on the fact the main character in the novel was a soldier at the massacre at Wounded Knee, I knew I would need to address certain issues within the review.

I do not debate the horrors of that incident. The facts are brutal and historical. I do, however, find the possibility of remorse and revulsion on the part of some soldiers involved both acceptable and quite likely. And I take into account that At Love’s Command is not a historical treatise but a work of fiction.

As Christians (and At Love’s Command is a Christian Historical Romance) we are called to extend grace. The story begins with the massacre (the prologue) and Witemeyer doesn’t shirk from painting the action realistically and brutally. What she does beyond that is posit the idea of several soldiers who shrank back when they saw what was happening and were, from that time forward, changed by the deeds done on that day. They were repentant.

Those who have written negative comments are correct in that the massacre should not be minimized, but, as a Christian, I like to think if I met soldiers who had been there and were truly horrified by what happened and were repentant, I would, as Jesus would, extend them grace. I believe that is the focus Witemeyer employed in her writing and I also believe she, too, should be extended such grace.

Within our culture today, we are bombarded with the idea that we must identify individuals as part of a group and only as part of that group, with no allowance for individuality. We are either oppressors or the oppressed. In doing so, we fall into the logical pitfall of gross generalization and the ideological camp of Marxism which is anathema to Christianity. God sees us as individuals and, as his people, we are called to do the same.  

Several reviewers of At Love’s Command have approached the character of Matthew Hanger as an “oppressor” and nothing more. Witemeyer is not extended the grace to present him as a fallen, fallible, and repentant human being. This is sad. Especially since the book is historical fiction.

So, having placed my review in proper perspective, I will proceed to review the book itself on the merits of the book alone.

I do not read romance as a habit but do so from time to time. All the hype caught my attention. The story begins with Matthew Hanger and his fellow soldiers as the massacre begins. From his perspective though he is a hardened soldier, the brutality is wrong and sickens him. He attempts to save a few of the people slated for slaughter, but in their fear, they run from him. This impacts him as a human being.

Chapter one picks up with the main story three years later. The guilt of what happened in 1890 still follows Matthew and his fellow Horsemen. Utilizing what they had learned in the army, they now take jobs helping people in need of their specific skill set. Think A-Team type help. They have earned a reputation and are quite successful at their chosen line of work. One specific aspect of their commitment sets them apart. Since Wounded Knee, the four have chosen to avoid killing their foes even if it puts them in jeopardy.

Photo by Andreas Strandman on Unsplash

When one of his men is wounded while capturing a ring of cattle thieves, Matt meets Dr. Jo. Dr. Jo turns out to be a woman. And what a woman! It doesn’t take long for Matt and Jo to begin to respect one another while struggling against their common attraction. And thus, the romance begins.

Josephine is strong, intelligent, and independent. A woman who knows her own mind and has no qualms about standing up to ex-soldiers who try to boss her around. When her brother is kidnapped for ransom, she doesn’t hesitate to enlist Hanger’s Horsemen to rescue him.

With a few twists and turns along the way, Witemeyer crafts a story of heroic action, personal growth, and romance that will entertain and touch any reader, but most especially, those who enjoy historical romance. Do not let the negative reviews dissuade you from reading At Love’s Command. It is worth the read.

A Sneak Peek at The Rhise of Hope (Darkness Overcome #2)!

The Survivor

 A month ago…

Leon awoke in a cold sweat. His naval uniform was plastered to his clammy skin. The heirloom Levigem necklace he wore was twisted awkwardly around, and painfully poked into his aching chest. Adjusting it, he tucked the gem back into his shirt and slowly sat up on the rough cot he found himself on. Everything hurt. Of course, that could have been from walking for two days without food or water.

As he looked around, Leon discovered that he was in a dimly lit cell of all places. Small, cramped, and damp, the air smelled of mold and rotting hay. A skin of water lay next to him and, feeling his parched throat, he grabbed for it and began to gulp its contents down with sheer desperation.

“Not too fast lad, or it’ll just come back up an’ out,” a rough, weary voice sounded from outside the cell.

Continue reading “A Sneak Peek at The Rhise of Hope (Darkness Overcome #2)!”

The Burgeoning Chute – Surreal Flash Fiction

The surreal is usually an element in most everything I write or make, but of course there are different degrees of this. This flash fiction is a recent sally into the pure surreal. It has some uncomfortable themes, but is one of the least harsh of my stories.

The surreal is not a lack of basic rules, it isn’t chaos (that would just be static, if anything), rather, it creates rules for its own use. For a certain purpose, the right rules must be used (imagine playing chess by the rules of basketball). Fiction can achieve purposes which history cannot achieve, because it creates its own rules for events. Fantasy can achieve what non-fantasy cannot, because it creates its own rules for possibilities. The surreal can achieve what the non-surreal cannot, because it creates its own rules for the basic fabric of experience.

Of course, something that would be purely surreal probably could not be conceived by the human mind, so this story isn’t technically pure surreal, but I call it so because, for example, it is more surreal than a dream usually is. Usually dreams have characters and events: this story simply has structure: sequence, themes, moods. If you would like to try and find hidden meanings in it, that may be enjoyable and interesting. But, recalling C. S. Lewis’s metaphor of the beam of light in the shed, do not neglect to experience the story by examining it instead.

Continue reading “The Burgeoning Chute – Surreal Flash Fiction”

What type of Reader are You?

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I often wonder if other readers are as volatile as me when it comes to reading habits. Are you a multi-task reader, the type who likes to read more than one book at a time or a single task reader, preferring to read one book at a time? Are you adventurous, the type that likes to read everything, or do you stick to the same genre?

According to a Booklikes post, readers fall under the following categories:

  1. The monogamist: the single-book reader
  2. The polygamist: loves reading many books at a time
  3. The extrovert: likes to read multiple genres
  4. The introvert: sticks to one genre
  5. The altruist: reads and recommends books to friends and family
  6. The neurotic: switches between books and often doesn’t finish them
Continue reading “What type of Reader are You?”

How Does One Write Well? Part 1

As a writer and an avid reader, I find that just as two of the writing tools above have changed a lot over the years, so have the books that get published. Due to the option of self-publishing and the ability to publish not only hardcover or paperback books, but also ebooks. The market is over saturated with writers and their works.

In some ways this is a good thing. In other ways, not so much. I do not mean to step on anyone’s toes in this article nor am I looking for an argument. I simply want to write what I have seen, learned, and experienced for myself with the hope that it may present food for thought for both readers and writers alike.

I have loved to read ever since I learned how to do so. I have also dreamed of being a published writer for many years. I have read MANY books over the years in every age bracket and in most genres. I have read classics and modern writings.

What have I observed as I have read so many books?

Continue reading “How Does One Write Well? Part 1”