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Friday, February 27, 2009

Joshua’s Hope by Carol Ann Erhardt

Joshua’s Hope by Carol Ann Erhardt
Publisher: The Wild Rose Press
Genre: Contemporary, Inspirational, Suspense/Mystery
Length: Full (204 pgs)
Heat Level: Sweet
Rating: 4.5 Books
Review by Lilac

Hope Courtland escaped her marriage to save her life. Her only regret is leaving her four-year-old stepson, Joshua, behind. Though she wants custody, no attorney is willing to tackle her ex-husband in a custody battle. Hope’s faith begins to falter. She learns that Joshua is paying the consequences for her freedom, and in an act of desperation, she kidnaps him. Suddenly, she becomes a suspect in her ex-husband’s murder.

Zack Stone is content to be sheriff of Pine Cove, Tennessee, where the worst conflict he deals with is handing out speeding tickets. Though his faith is strong, he struggles with issues of forgiveness surrounding his wife’s death. When he rescues Hope in a rainstorm, the last thing he expects is to find a woman who stirs his heart. Being a small town sheriff shouldn’t involve kidnapping and murder, but Zack can’t turn his back on Hope and the little boy she loves.

In this sweet and touching story a woman is determined to get custody of her stepson from her abusive ex-husband.

The heroine of the story, Hope Courtland has left an abusive marriage with a powerful attorney and is struggling to get custody of her stepson, Joshua, a little boy she has raised since he was an infant and who she loves as if he were her own. She has run into to obstacles at every turn as no one is willing to take on her ex and she is willing to do anything, even kidnapping, to keep the boy safe. An independent woman, Hope is a survivor and a very strong character who finds it difficult to trust anyone. But despite her strength she also has a soft and vulnerable side that really tugs at the heartstrings as the story progresses. Her vulnerable side is especially evident in scenes where her maternal instincts are put into action. There are few scenes and instances where her love for Joshua really pulls at your emotions as you feel for this character. It broke my heart to see her long to protect and love the little boy and struggle to do so. Hope grows a lot throughout the story as she learns to trust in herself, others, and in God again.

A lot of her growth comes courtesy of Zack Stone, the hero of the story, who is a perfect match for Hope. The Sheriff of the small town in which Hope now lives, Zack has a painful past of his own and when he meets Hope his protective instincts kick in. He longs to take care of Hope and knows he has to take things slow in order to win her trust. I really enjoyed how Zack does take things slow with Hope despite his obvious attraction to her. I enjoyed their relationship as they started out as friends before making any further steps toward a relationship. Zack is a strong character and the perfect support for Hope.

In addition to the romance, there is an element of suspense to the story as well as Joshua, Hope’s stepson, witnesses something that puts him in danger. Someone is out to keep both Joshua and Hope silent and won’t stop until they do. I really enjoyed this part of the story and loved how everything fell into place and seemed to just flow smoothly.

There is also great message woven in throughout this story about trusting in oneself, others, and in God to help you through difficult times. The author did a wonderful job of portraying this through the actions and experiences of the characters without sounding preachy.

With a few twists that I didn’t see coming, Joshua’s Hope, is a wonderful story that kept my interest throughout the ups and downs that Hope experiences as she struggles to protect and gain custody of her stepson. If you are looking for a heartwarming and touching suspense, then I’d recommend this one.