REVIEW: A Reason to Believe by Maureen McKade
How do you pick up the pieces of a shattered life?
To escape her angry father, Dulcie McDonald got pregnant – but lost her husband is a fatal accident. Penniless, she returned home with her little girl – only to have her world shattered once again. Lonely and filler with regrets, Dulcie struggles to provide a decent life for her daughter, Then a handsome stranger arrives …
Dulcie, usually shunned by proper folks, is suspicious of Rye Forrester, a drifter offering to work for his keep. But after he helps harvest the crops, her feelings toward the handsome stranger turn into a consuming mutual passion. Although Rye wears the brand of an army deserted, Dulcie is thrilled to be with such a good man. But Rye has his own secrets. He can’t understand why his late friend cheated on such a beautiful wife – or how he can now ask Dulcie’s forgiveness for his part in her husband’s death. Love is one thing – acceptance and forgiveness another. When their tragic pasts catch up with them, these two wounded souls must fight for the love that will keep them together for a lifetime …
Dear Ms. McKade,
I read and loved the first book in this series,“A Reason to Live,” but never managed to snag or read the next two. I think this was just when our local Waldenbooks was closing. Anyway, I have been in a Western mood lately and when I realized the whole series is now available as ebooks, I bought “Believe.”
Rye Forrester is a man with a mission. He feels responsible for the death of a fellow soldier and guilty about the fact that the man left a wife and young child. Rye figures he’ll track them down and make sure they’re doing okay. But when he arrives in the small and gawdforsaken Texas town of Locust – and really the name says it all – he discovers that Dulcie McDonald is on her own trying to maintain her farm after her drunken father was lynched by the townsfolk as a murderer. Obviously Rye is going to stay on and help with the myriad chores that need doing but he quickly realizes that Dulcie’s pride would never allow her to accept his help if she knows who he is and what he did.
Dulcie’s got secrets of her own including resorting to a whiskey bottle when she gets too lonely or needs to forget the problems of her past including her wanton behavior that lead to her unhappy marriage or the “bargain” she had to make with a peddler to get back home after that husband’s death. Rye is the answer to a prayer in that he’s willing to work for room and board. If she can only keep her “needs” in check, provide for her young daughter and solve her father’s murder, she’ll be content.
Of course the best laid plans always whirl around and bite us right when the plot requires it. After tippy toeing up to the source of conflict and then coyly backing away several times, the fit hits the shan. My feelings were along the lines of “It’s about time” because I was getting tired of the weak hints of Rye’s angst secret. And since Dulcie and Rye had finally given into their raging mental lusting just before The Truth Comes Out, Dulcie now thinks Rye was just stringing her along until he got What All Men Want never mind that he’s been working like a dog for over a month helping her out.
Plus it seems like the whole town was in on lynching papa and threats have been made if she keeps pushing for the truth. Never mind that Rye now knows she drinks too and knows a lot of ways to please a man while not being shy about getting her own pleasure. Oh and Rye is hoping to find his brothers from whom he was separated twenty five years ago. There is a lot going on here and to be fixed or solved by the end but unfortunately I could see most things coming from a long way off, after the above mentioned endless hinting, and I never got caught up in any emotions. It just felt rote.
What I did find interesting about the story is that this is one of the few historicals I can recall in which a woman is shown having a drinking problem. Yes, fathers are drunkards as sometimes are former husbands or brothers but for a woman to be struggling against the siren call of the bottle, and for it to make even more sense since she’s the child of an alcoholic, was something I’m not used to seeing. I also felt that Dulcie’s thoughts on her “wantonness” made sense for a 19th century woman. She wants the pleasure of sex, yes she misses that from her marriage, but she’s also ashamed of her desires – and aren’t we all glad this attitude is past – which makes sense to me in this era.
Rye is almost too good to be true yet packed with guilt and the main source of angst here. He works himself half to death, content to sleep out in the barn, is great with children and willing to stick his neck out asking nosey questions in a town that’s already hung one man. And he can cook. Rye is nice to imagine as a real man but hard to actually see as one. The resolution of his personal fraternal quest also felt immensely anti-climactic.
I’m not sure how I would have felt about this book had I read it shortly after the first one. Maybe the same. But after wondering about it for years it didn’t live up to what I hoped for. C-
I read this when it was released and didn’t love it as much as the first book, but did enjoy it. Mostly because of the “challenging” heroine. Heroines like Dulcie are a rare bird these days – never mind when this book was first published back in 2007 (Dear Lord, which is 8 years ago now – just shoot me). And I was OK with her putting Rye through the paces mostly because, hello? If I were her I wouldn’t trust men as far as I could spit either.
What didn’t work for me was the entire storyline surrounding her father’s death – which was, frankly, annoying and felt tacked on to me. Rye and Dulcie were lugging enough baggage around on their own – the whole town despising her Daddy (for reasons that escaped me at the time, although granted it’s been YEARS since I’ve read the book so maybe my memory is just shot) strained the seams considerably. At the time I think I gave this a high-B grade, but ultimately shot it up to around an A-, mostly because I appreciated the Dulcie character quite a bit.
@SuperWendy: Dulcie’s daddy was a drunk who beat up on her mama a lot and pissed people off with his attitude thus making him a convenient already unlikable scapegoat.
And though I loved the way she told the whole town off in church at the end, I couldn’t help but think a few pages before that happened that she and Rye were about to get run out of town or worse for continuing to ask their pesky questions.
And yes, I’m with you on “Dear Lord are we really that far past 2008?”