cover image The Shepherd's Voice

The Shepherd's Voice

Robin Lee Hatcher. Waterbrook Press, $11.95 (384pp) ISBN 978-1-57856-152-0

Gabe Talmadge is on his way home to Depression-era Ransom, Idaho, after a long spell in jail for a crime he did not commit. Hungry and exhausted, he collapses just 15 miles from his father's mansion. Beautiful, devout Akira Macauley takes him in, giving him a home-cooked meal and a clean bed for the night. The next day she drives him to town, where he asks his wealthy but cruel father, Hudson Talmadge, for a job. After Hudson turns him out, Akira rescues Gabe once again, offering him a job on her sheep farm. Akira's friends worry about her safety, but Akira believes God has sent Gabe to her farm so that he can recuperate, body and soul. Indeed, Gabe gains back his physical strength and rededicates his life to the Lord. Not surprisingly, he and Akira fall in love. Hatcher eschews subtlety here: Akira the Shepherdess recalls Psalm 23, and Gabe is part prodigal son, part heralding angel. And if readers do not figure out that Ransom is more than just the name of a town--it is also Jesus' role--veteran romance novelist Hatcher liberally sprinkles clues in the form of biblical quotations . Still, the predictable plot is entertaining, and Gabe and Akira are appealing, albeit somewhat one-dimensional, characters. (June)