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REVIEW: Letter Perfect by Cathy Marie Hake

Dear Mrs. Hake,

0764202847.gifI wasn’t quite sure what I’d get when I impulsively picked this book at the bookstore. I had vaguely heard of Bethany House and thought it publishes inspirational literature. I am religious and a Christian but don’t care to be preached at, if you know what I mean. Happily, I found that there is a well written story here though it might not appeal to everyone. Religion is a large part of the story and I found it easier to read about since this is a time in American history when expression of deep faith didn’t bring the divisiveness that it seems to do today.

Ruth Caldwell is a young woman whose impulsive and open nature has always lead to trouble in all the fancy Schools for Young Ladies to which her mother has sent her. When Ruth arrives home after her latest debacle, she finds her mother in far worse health than she thought. It isn’t long before Ruth’s mother has passed on and Ruth is on her way out west to California. Expecting to finally meet her long estranged father, Ruth is devastated to learn of his death over two years ago. But her arrival is no less shocking to Josh McCain.

Josh had no idea that the man from whom he and his father had bought a run down ranch had a daughter. Now Ruth’s arrival has thrown into question the ownership of the land. While they wait for a court date to settle the issue, Ruth comes to live at the Broken P Ranch. She quickly comes to love not only the place but the McCain family, especially Laney whom she comes to think of as a sister. If only she and Josh got on better but their interactions always seem to lead to confrontations and feather ruffling. At first the freak accidents that begin to happen to Ruth are dismissed by her as her own clumsiness but soon Josh starts to worry that someone means Ruth harm.

You’ve obviously done your homework for the background of the story. And for the most part, it’s nicely woven into the story. There are a few clumsy facts dropped here and there. For instance, I doubt most people would refer to the Central Overland California and Pike’s Peak Express over and over by it’s full name instead of just calling it the Pony Express. But the information about food preservation, animal husbandry and dress making were smoothly handled. I like that you made the time come alive without making it too gritty. ;)

Where I did have some problems was in the heavy handedness about the villain. Not his actions, though, I think you did a good job working those into the story and leading to the final revelation (no pun intended) . But rather with the fact that he’s the only non-practicing Christian and because he’s fallen from the Lord’s way he therefore has to be the bad guy. It was like being bashed over the head with a heavy huge family Bible to make sure I “got it.” I do appreciate that you didn’t make Josh try to turn Ruth into a subservient Stepford Bible wife but kept her an exuberant person. I had gotten a bit worried when reading a post about another book from this publisher in which the poster delighted in the fact that that heroine had submitted her will to the Lord and to her husband. I guess I’m just too much of a 21st century woman to rejoice in the later. But all the women in this story were strong, independent and had dignity but still acted like 19th century people instead of transplanted 21st century females in hoop skirts.

I don’t know if I’d buy any more Bethany House books but I don’t regret getting or reading this one. B- for you.


Another long time reader who read romance novels in her teens, then took a long break before started back again about 15 years ago. She enjoys historical romance/fiction best, likes contemporaries, action- adventure and mysteries, will read suspense if there's no TSTL characters and is currently reading very few paranormals.


  1. jaye
    Oct 14, 2006 @ 11:07:21

    Well…. I’ve always loved Bethany House cover art. They’re so eye-catchingly beautiful, just not enough to make me want to pick up one of their books. I have no problems reading a book where a character’s religious beliefs are integeral to the story/characterization. But the ‘hitting over the head’ thing, I steer clear of. :-P I get my sermons at church (and often in a more entertaining, thoughtful, and consise manner).

  2. Shirah
    Oct 14, 2006 @ 13:55:46

    Excellent review! I’m adding this book to my “wishlist.”

  3. Jayne
    Oct 14, 2006 @ 18:35:10

    Jaye, their cover art is wonderful. I found myself wandering through Waldenbooks desperately trying to find another one that I wanted to try but, alas, failing. Much as I loved to look at some of the other covers, I just wasn’t interested in the stories.

  4. Jayne
    Oct 14, 2006 @ 18:38:55

    Shirah, I hope you enjoy it. There are a couple of secondary characters who I wonder if Mrs. Hake plans to return to in future books.

  5. REVIEW: All the Tea in China by Jane Orcutt | Dear Author: Romance Book Reviews, Author Interviews, and Commentary
    Oct 18, 2007 @ 04:00:24

    […] is not something I like to do, but this isn’t a genre I usually pick though I did enjoy one previous book published by Bethany House. When I closed this book, I felt I had been preached too just a teensy tiny bit but as with the […]

  6. Kaitlin
    Dec 15, 2009 @ 21:58:24

    hello! i have a question, and it may sound stupid but what does ‘pause’ mean in Letter Perfect by Cathy Marie Hake? Ruth said that Laney ‘paused’ and then was embarresed when a man didnt quit understand. im guessing its a feminine thing, but i thought i would ask anyway….if someone could post a comment with the answer, that would be great!

  7. Jayne
    Dec 16, 2009 @ 09:10:10

    Kaitlin, could you give some more information than this? Quote a passage or something? I’m not sure what you’re referring to.

  8. Kaitlin
    Dec 16, 2009 @ 18:09:58

    Page 80.
    “Your sister will be with me in just a moment.”
    “Where is she?”
    “She paused a moment.”
    “Paused?” When Ruth’s cheeks went red, Josh felt like a dolt for not immediately understanding her meaning. He tugged on the basket hanging from her arm. “What do you have there?”
    “Onions.” …

    Im not sure what that means…or maybe Im just a dolt myself. :)

  9. Jayne
    Dec 17, 2009 @ 08:16:00

    I think Ruth is trying to tell Josh that his sister stopped to go to the outhouse.

  10. Kaitlin
    Dec 17, 2009 @ 15:56:11

    oh…that makes sense. thank you!

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