Sunday, June 26, 2016

Book Review: MESSENGER BY Moonlight by Stephanie Grace Whitson

The Lord is my shepherd. I shall not want. Psalm 23:1(KJV)

Publisher's Description

Bestselling author Stephanie Grace Whitson's latest historical novel features an adventurous young heroine who works for the Pony Express.

Orphaned Annie Paxton and her brothers may have lost the only home they've ever known, but they're determined to make a better future in St. Joseph, Missouri. Annie dreams of a pretty house with window boxes, and having friends, and attending church every week. But then her brothers spot the ad for a new venture called the Pony Express. "Wanted," it reads, "Young, skinny fellows not over eighteen. Must be expert riders and willing to risk death daily. Orphans preferred." Sure enough, both her brothers land jobs as Express messengers, and Annie puts her dreams on hold to work as a cook at Clearwater Ranch, a station along the Pony Express route.

Annie struggles to adapt to her new job--work made all the more challenging when she has so many to feed and few ingredients. The gruff station owner, George, doesn't seem inclined to make her life any easier, or at least not at first. But slowly a friendship builds between them. When Annie attracts the attention of a refined, dashing lieutenant from the nearby fort, she'll have to learn how to trust her instincts and follow her heart, even if she's conflicted about which way it's leading her.

Editorial Reviews

"Whitson's fascinating look at the Pony Express and those who lived in the Midwest during that time is entertaining and intriguing. The romance is unexpected, beautifully developed and well-balanced with action and family drama. The faith message is touching and relevant."―RT Book Reviews on Messenger by Moonlight

"Messenger by Moonlight is a well-researched tribute to the strong and courageous men and women of the Pony Express."―Historical Novel Society

My Personal Review

MESSENGER BY Moonlight by Stephanie Grace Whitson is an exceptionally entertaining, well written and engaging book! From the first page, right up until the last, I found myself thoroughly absorbed in the action and completely transported back in time to the days of the Pony Express. 

The story circles around the main character, Annie Paxton, who is surrounded by two loving brothers who make it their mission to provide for her after the loss of their parents. From the very beginning of the novel there is a strong message of the importance of family connection.  The theme of perseverance during difficult times and leaning on the Lord in the face of adversity is effectively communicated  throughout the book, as well. 

As the Paxton brothers carry out their new jobs as Pony Express messengers, Annie accepts a job as a cook at a large ranch on the route. She has very little experience and not a great deal of supplies, but she learns how to manage with the help of the station manager, George Morgan. The interactions and relationships that develop at the ranch are fun and authentic and evoke many emotions from the reader.

The trials and harsh times that were a part of this era in history are narrated so vividly, that  I found a whole new appreciation for the modern comforts of air-conditioning, heat, cars, medicine, communication, and easily accessible food! It's amazing what we take for granted. I also had no idea what the Pony Express riders had to endure as they navigated their treacherous routes, nor was I aware of the speed at which they were required to run them. Not only were they having to deal with the elements, but the dangers of predators, illness, horse injuries and much more.

Pony Express route covering 1900 miles
MESSENGER BY Moonlight has everything a good Christian Historical Fiction book should have. It informs, causes reflection, brings a spirit of worship, entertains, and provides a clear vision of a loving Savior in Christ. Perhaps the only thing missing is a map illustrating the 1900 mile Pony Express Route and a few approximate station locations to serve as a point of reference. Maybe it's because I am such a visual learner, but I found myself wanting to see their path and the location of the Clearwater Ranch. At one point while reading the novel, I went on a search to see a map of their journey. I have provided that here from the National Park Service website. 

I would like to thank FaithWords and Hachette Book Group Inc for this complimentary review copy of MESSENGER BY Moonlight by Stephanie Grace Whitson. I was not required to give a favorable review, but only to read the work in it's entirety and give an honest opinion. 

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