BACK COVER: REDEEMING SHANNON.... THE LAST THING SHANNON HENSLEY EXPECTED WHEN SHE RENTED A SUMMER COTTAGE WAS TO BE CONFRONTED WITH A LIFE-THREATEN FOREST FIRE. USED TO BEING IN CONTROL IN THE HIGH-POWERED COPORATE WORLD, SHE'D COME TO THE SMALL COLORADO TOWN TO FIND HERSELF. INSTEAD SHE FOUND HERSELF STRANDED ON WARD DAWSON'S RANCH WITH HIS ADORABLE DAUGHTER. AND WONDERING WHAT MESSAGE GOD WAS TRYING TO SEND HER....WARD DAWSON DIDN'T KNOW WHAT THE EMPTINESS IN SHANNON'S LIFE MIGHT BE, BUT FOUND HIMSELF POWERLESS TO RESIST THIS STRONG-WILLED BEAUTY. NOW HE PRAYED THAT SHANNON WOULD FIND HER WAY BACK TO GOD....AND SEE THE BRIGHT FUTURE HE'D PLANNED FOR THEM TOGETHER!
This book differs slightly from the other Steeple Hill books in that one of the leads, Shannon, isn't a Christian. She's apparently from the agnostic/atheist camp and doesn't see a need for God in her life. Her spiritual needs have been filled with high-paced corporate jobs and an upper class lifestyle. However, she rents a cabin in Colorado in order to "find herself" and instead finds a loving ranch owner named Ward Dawson and his daughter Tara, along with the denizens of a small town who are battling a wildfire that threatens everything they own.
I found it disappointing that Ward chose to follow his emotions instead of his head. Shannon is the more logical one and realizes that she's out of place at their church services. Beth, Ward's sister, makes a comment about not being unevenly yoked, which neatly paraphrases 1 Corinthians. The truth is, no true Christian would consider a relationship with anyone not a Christian. That is the essence of Paul's words. "Missionary dating" is not the vocation of Christians.
Obviously, true love wins out in the end but it felt forced and unreal. Shannon's conversion from unbeliever to churchgoer is too quick and easy and so unlike real life. There's also a minor character, Judy, who has the hots for Ward, but he dismisses her as a friend. This reminded me of the warning Alan Loy McGinnis gave in his great book "The Friendship Factor": "Bail out if necessary. Sometimes friendship gets out of control." Why Ward would choose an unbeliever like Shannon over a Christian like Judy is puzzling; most men don't allow their emotions to totally control them.