Friday, February 8, 2008

Valley of Fire

After watching (and enjoying) 3:10 to Yuma last week, I had to reread my favorite “Western”—Janet Cox’s Valley of Fire. I wrote about Valley before moving to Paris last fall but never got around to rereading it.

After breaking her engagement, Delores Ashley is banished by her father to St. George, Utah. Lori is rich and pampered and completely unprepared to become a manual laborer at her cousin’s inn. In addition, she must contend with the inn’s financial backer, Jonas Lukar.

Valley is your basic romance novel, so I’m not sure why I’m so enamored with the book. I never reread romances—but I’ve read Valley at least three times. Perhaps it’s because Cox’s writing is actually adequate. Or maybe I’m madly in love with Jonas Lukar. Secretly (or not-so-secretly), I want a handsome, rugged, good-hearted male to love me despite all my flaws. Sigh.

That being said, I must also confess I am not a fan of Christian fiction. The religious messages tend to be overbearing rather than seamlessly woven into the narrative. The weakest parts of Valley are certainly the Christian elements. It’s as if Janet Cox suddenly jumps into the narrative to preach to the reader. The passages are jarring, distracting, and uncomfortable.

Valley has been out of print for many years and is not easily accessible (I found a used copy online). But if you stumble upon the book, can stomach a little religion in your fiction, and need a “clean” romance fix, it might be worth a read.

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