Christian fiction, Historical Fiction, historical romance

Book & Cover Review of "Unwilling Warrior" by Andrea Boeshaar

Trust is hard to come by in ‘Unwilling Warrior’

Book Review
Milwaukee author and Christian life coach, Andrea Boeshaar, has written a new historical novel exploring how to trust after betrayal in both earthly and spiritual relationships.

Releasing in May, ‘Unwilling Warrior’ is Andrea’s approximately 30th published book and is book one of an anticipated four-book series entitled Seasons of Redemption. In ‘Unwilling Warrior,’ a civil war era New Orleans debutant becomes an unwilling pawn in her father’s circle of influence.  Her father nearly sacrifices her, to a verbally and physically abusive suitor, in order to crawl out of his own financial ruin and start a new life.  Thankfully, an unexpected and timely houseguest ends up being the answer to her prayers – but trusting his motives does not come easily for someone recently forced into harms way by her own flesh and blood.

Valerie Fontaine, age 19, is mourning the recent and sudden death of a mother whom she also considered to be her best friend. She wrongly expects to be welcomed openly by her father after a dangerous and lengthy journey from her Virginia finishing school to the family home in New Orleans in search of family consolation. Her father remains distant and detached toward his only child – seeking consolation in a bottle rather than in any way helpful to his daughter, or his reputation.

Into the mix enters a young man, Benjamin McCabe, who is more in search of a missing brother than in any relationship with the opposite gender. His brother, Luke, has been missing since the Battle of Bull Run; Ben and a friend have continued to travel as journalistic photographers, photographing soldiers of both the North and the South, while seeking for any sign of the missing brother.  The stop in New Orleans is meant to be brief, but between Ben’s instant attraction to one Miss Valerie Fontaine, and the helpful connections made via a confederate Colonel that might widen the net for locating the whereabouts of his brother, Ben opts to stay a bit longer.

An additional interesting character in this novel is a young woman named Catherine.  Apparently, Catherine is a distant cousin of Benjamin’s who has been carrying a torch for him for several years.  She is more than a little obsessive, and seems to have her entire life with him mapped out in her mind.  What is interesting about how the author treats this character is that often I have seen Christian authors not want harm to come to any of their female characters – to the point that if there is an unwanted female romantic pursuer, even though they are rejected by the male protagonist there is always a neat and tidy wrap up to that character’s storyline.  Someone else falls in love with her, she decides to become a governess and moves away – a quick and tidy ending for this possibly not-so-nice young lady.  In the case of Catherine, however, the author uses this character as an example of someone who has been surrounded by a Christian upbringing – her own father is a minister and she plays the piano every week in church – but she fails to actually follow Christ in her life choices throughout the novel.

Despite being treated with kindness, Catherine repeatedly attempts to ruin Valerie’s happiness via both verbal and physical means, gradually earning the distrust of everyone who knows her.  She spreads lies about Valerie’s reputation, resorts to theft, and eventually causes her own demise.  Through it all, this character shows no sign that she knows anything she’s doing is wrong. Valerie Fontaine – no matter how nice she tries to be – has simply gotten in the way of Catherine’s tidily planned out life with Benjamin on the prairieland of Missouri.

With an antagonist like Catherine in the picture, a southern family scandal, and a missing brother to find during the middle of a civil war, this novel is fast-paced and it keeps you eagerly turning the pages to see if Valerie will ever have anyone in her life, including God, that she can fully trust.

Book Cover Review

This cover is definitely aimed at the same audience the writing was intended for – the historical Christian romance.  The horse-drawn covered wagon, and stately southern manor immediately ground this title as a historical and give you a sense of place and time before you read the first word on the cover.  The style of dress on the pictured heroine matches those elements; her wistful expression and the twirling of hair also hint at this being a period romance novel, and the modest dress is also standard for a Christian heroine.  The back cover further enhances this with the camera and posing heroine holding a single rose – a classic symbol of romance.  All of these elements are woven together by the blending of warm, aged looking colors and a faded background of scroll patterns and close-ups of the ornate column-work seen on the southern mansion.  A fitting cover for this charming civil war-era romance novel.

* A final galley was provided by the author for review prior to this book’s release in May by her traditional publisher.


Why review a book's cover and its interior?

Don’t Judge a Book By Its Cover … ?
I think we all know this phrase doesn’t generally have anything to do with books when people use it. However, I find that there is a VERY good reason that phrase came into being …

Have you ever read an absolutely fantastic book – either loaned or recommended to you by someone else – whose cover design was so blah or ugly that you probably would have looked right past it on a shelf?

On the other hand, … have you ever felt suckered in by a book’s cover design – discovering after a few lost hours of invested reading that the writing inside wasn’t nearly as good as what was seemingly promised you by the book’s great cover art or text?

If so, “The Book and Cover Reviewer” blog is for you. I will analyze both the writing inside the book and all aspects of the books cover – noting areas that could be improved and areas that I think should be praised as is.

I promise to be honest, but also promise to not tear anyone down and leave them crying. Books take a LOT of behind-the-scenes work, and I’m a firm believer in adding a little sugar to the mix if some sour critiquing is overdue. I want to see the industry thrive and to encourage authors and cover designers to always do their best – and to keep the intended audience in mind!

And for readers, I hope that I can guide you to books that you will love to read – even ones that you might have overlooked before, because the cover happens to be a little … ‘off’.

Happy reading!