cover image Where Courage Calls

Where Courage Calls

Janette Oke and Laurel Oke Logan. Bethany House, (336p) $19.99 ISBN 978-0-7642-1232-1

The mother of the Christian fiction genre returns in this tepid prairie romance cowritten with her daughter. Beth Thatcher comes from a wealthy family, but has chosen to take a yearlong teaching position in a small mining town in western Canada. She is slowly accepted by the people of Coal Valley, and makes two key friends: her landlady, Molly McFarland, and disabled miner Frank Russo. Romantic tension is one undercurrent; two young Mounties are interested in Beth. A note of menace is present too, in the form of an illegal moonshiner. None of this is organic; Beth is too good to hold much interest, and pathos moves the plot (a child is hospitalized, Beth plays the violin movingly at a Christmas pageant). Characters are stereotypes: Molly has a maternal, strongly Christian heart; Frank is all nobility, and a gifted amateur violinist to boot. The prose can be shopworn ("His sneer as he spoke made Beth's skin crawl"). Those who want extra-clean clean reads will enjoy this; readers expecting better craft will be disappointed. (Feb.)