Deep in the Heart of Trouble – A Book Review

[Note:  Not only am I an author, I am also an avid reader.  It is my hope to offer periodic book reviews to give you a glimpse at my bookshelf, and hopefully encourage you to pick up a good book.  Most of what I read is from a Christian worldview, although I do read some secular books from time to time.]

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Deep in the Heart of Trouble

By Deeanne Gist

Published 2008 by Bethany House Publishers

Deep in the Heart of Trouble is the follow-up to Deeanne Gist’s novel “Courting Trouble”. (Read my review of that book here.)

In Courting Trouble, I complained that Essie Spreckelmeyer did not get the happily-ever-after ending that I prefer for romance novels.  I’m happy to report that in Deep in the Heart of Trouble the irascible Essie finally gets her man!

I truly enjoyed Deep in the Heart of Trouble, even more than Courting Trouble.  Deep in the Heart of Trouble is more light-hearted, more in the vein of another Gist novel I enjoyed, “Love on the Line.” (Read my review of that novel here.)  Where Courting Trouble dealt with some very serious subject matter, this novel is full of fun and we see Essie in her finest form.

The year is 1898, four years after Essie’s disastrous affair with Adam Currington.  She has embraced her spinsterhood, finding fulfillment in her role as the bride of Christ.  She is happily running her father’s oil interests along with her bicycle club that is flourishing.  She no longer seeks romance or a husband and family.

Tony Morgan, the son of a rich oil baron, has recently been disinherited upon his father’s death.  In search of a job, and needing to redeem his own and his mother’s and sister’s honor, he goes to Corsicana, Texas, willing to start over on the bottom rung of the ladder.  Not wanting anyone to know his true identity, he shaves his mustache and begins using his mother’s maiden name, Bryant.  He lands a job with the Spreckelmeyer oil company and it isn’t long before he and Essie are butting heads.  Even thought he is set on regaining his name and fortune, all-too-soon Tony is enchanted by Essie and her sliding down bannisters, teaching ladies how to shoot, and saving little girls from snake bites.

One of my favorite characters in this novel is Mrs. Lockhart. She was a minor character in Courting Trouble as well.  In this book she really gets to shine and her penchant for dime novels and matchmaking rather steals the middle of the book as she takes Tony under her tutelage.  Mrs. Lockhart easily uncovers Tony’s true identity, as she has connections with the Morgan family, and she is soon in cahoots with him in an effort to save his mother and sister from the clutches of Tony’s evil step-brother.

There is plenty to hold a reader’s interest in this novel.  I love how Ms. Gist develops the romance early on in the story, not stringing the reader along waiting for the main characters to fall in love.  Of course there is the problem of Tony’s true identity, and the obstacle of Essie’s fling with the drifter, Currington, to be hurdled.  There is also a seedy deputy, underhanded competition, a bit of mystery and a very suspenseful scene near the climax of the book that will keep you on the edge of your seat.  There is also plenty that will make you smile and even laugh out loud.

This book is inspirational fiction and the faith of the characters plays a large role in the plot but is not overly preachy.

Overall, I found Deep in the Heart of Trouble to be a very enjoyable read during this never-ending Michigan winter!  If you are anxious to escape the bluster of March, take a little trip to Corsicana, Texas.  I would suggest reading Courting Trouble first though, so you know the background of Essie’s story.

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