#1 This is a long review, so pull up a chair and grab a bowl of popcorn. You’ll be here awhile. #2 When I read a review, I want substantial information. So I will not skimp on the details. Which may mean some spoilers, so watch out.
Synopsis: Emma Grace McMurray is on the run from the ghosts of her past...and those who search for her even now. When her past catches up to her, can she trust a man from the high class she abandoned to help her?
Favorite Quote: “Because God is love. He’s peace. He’s comfort and strength. Fear is the opposite of all that God is so it’s obviously from the devil. I think you’ve shut God out, and He’s just waiting for you to open the door back up.”
I am ashamed of myself. I read A Deep Divide this time last month and meant to have it reviewed before November began. I can only blame myself school. I’m so behind on reviews right now that it’s embarrassing.
But enough chit-chat. Let’s get into all the thoughts yet unvoiced I have about this book.
I took a chance on A Deep Divide. I’ve never read anything by Kimberly Woodhouse (that I remember), but I do know that her work is quite similar to that of Tracie Peterson. And let’s just say I intentionally stopped reading Tracie Peterson several years ago because her novels are just. so. boring.
No offense. I think now I might enjoy her work more, but my thirteen-year-old self needed a little less conversation and a little more action. And, yes, that’s a song. And, yes, I’m still the exact same way.
The point? I was a bit concerned that A Deep Divide would be bland, uninteresting, and too...informative, I suppose. That said, Amy Lokkesmoe convinced me to give it a chance. But isn’t that what publicists are for? In the end, she did her job, and I’m glad I read ADD and I may even be open to more by Kimberly Woodhouse in the future!
I’ll be honest with y’all. My main qualm about this novel has absolutely nothing to do with Woodhouse’s writing (getting to that in a minute) or with the storyline or even with the way-too-subtle romance. It all has to do with Ray.
You see, my dad’s name is Ray, and I could not read the hero’s name without immediately thinking of my dad. Which was kinda awkward. Not to mention Woodhouse just kept throwing things into Ray’s character that resembled my dad quite closely. Like the whole “obsessive perfectionist because his mom was crazy obsessive too” bit. Yep, that’s my dad. Anyway, I just have to put that out there, since Ray Watkins ended up with two personalities due to reminding me so much of my father.
(Note to self: never read books with characters who have the same names as my parents.)
On the other hand is Emma Grace. (Ironic, I know, that she would have Grace in her name.) She was...an experience. You see, I’m not a fan of the escaping-an-arranged-marriage trope (regardless of if it turns out to be more, such as in this case), nor am I a fan of the heroines who are constantly trying to prove themselves. Maybe I’m a chauvinist (who am I kidding? I totally am), or maybe I’d just like to see a girl who is completely comfortable in her own skin and has nothing to prove. (I’ll admit it. It’s a bit of both.)
So, yeah, as much as I appreciated that Emma Grace wasn’t as whiny as most heroines, had a lovely arc, and was very well-developed, her character itself just wasn’t up my alley, if you catch my drift.
Frank and Ruth, however, were so precious, and I want more of them so badly! Their kindness and words of wisdom were absolutely heartwarming, plus I was shipping them from the start!
All of the supporting cast were developed and strong, and the relationships between all the characters (minus the romance between Ray and Emma Grace) were realistic and overall well-written.
Speaking of...yes, the romance fell flat to me. And I’m not just saying that because I’m very picky romance lover. The feelings between Ray and Emma Grace didn’t shift from dislike (well, one-sided dislike, on EG’s part) to mutual interest until way later in the book. And once it did, I felt like their interactions were sorely limited. I’d probably call this more of a historical fiction, rather than a historical romance or even a romantic suspense. There was too much development for it to be a romantic suspense. *winks*
That said, Woodhouse nailed the suspense, the intrigue, the twists and turns. The plot was paced so well and anyone but the self-proclaimed Queen of Assumptions (I’m considering changing my title to Lady of Assumptions as a nod to the Virgin Mary...all in favor?) would be blindsided by the curve balls Woodhouse threw.
(Dude, two sports references in a sentence! I’m on a roll!)
Seriously, I called a lot of that early on in the game, but I still think Woodhouse pulled everything off in a believable but not too obvious manner.
Oh, yes, as for her writing. I was right. Tracie Peterson. Now, I think she has a little more flavor and depth than Peterson does (or did, at least), but there was nothing really vivid or unique about her writing style. It was technically on-point, but y’all know how I like every author to be different, every sentence to be a treat to read.
I’m so particular. Like a crotchety old man or something. Yeesh.
Like Peterson, Woodhouse stayed true to her setting and delved deeply into the history and culture surrounding her story. I loved learning more about the Grand Canyon and the Harvey House empire, and Woodhouse included interesting facts and tidbits about these two topics and several others in a way that didn’t feel forced or like an info-dump. Definitely commendable!
Best of all, though, was the message and the faith elements. The strong, clear Christian message was such a refresher to me after reading so many “clean but not Christian” novels (or Christian but not expressly so, I suppose). It wasn’t preachy, as so many readers worry about these days, but rather the messages wove into the themes of the novel and the characters’ arcs as sturdily and beautifully as the baskets the Hopis weaved in the story.
Long story short, was A Deep Divide worth it? Yes, I do believe it was. It wasn’t the kind of story that I’m keen on or one I’d want to reread, but it kept my attention and I did enjoy many aspects of it. I think, as far as technicalities and execution goes, Kimberly Woodhouse did a fabulous job! This is definitely the perfect read for those who love subtle romance, suspense, and lots of history!
Disclaimer: A complimentary copy of this book was provided by the publisher, publicist, or author, including NetGalley. All opinions expressed are my own.
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About the Author
Kimberley Woodhouse is an award-winning and bestselling author of more than twenty-five books. A lover of history and research, she often gets sucked into the past and then her husband has to lure her out with chocolate and the promise of eighteen holes on the golf course. She loves music, kayaking, and her family. Her books have been awarded the Carol Award, Holt Medallion, Reader's Choice Award, Selah Award, Spur Award, and others. A popular speaker/teacher, she's shared with over 1,000,000 people at more than twenty-five hundred venues across the country. Married to the love of her life for three decades, she lives and writes in the Poconos where she's traded in her hat of "craziest mom" for "coolest grandma." Connect with Kim at www.kimberleywoodhouse.com!
Before I close, I just want to be an obsessive perfectionist again. *winks* Seriously, though, how do y'all like this review format? In my other reviews (typically the shorter ones, like the review coming out tomorrow morning), I don't include the star rating, synopsis, or my favorite quote. I only started adding those elements when I rated a book 3.5 stars and started doing my Netgalley/ARC reviews. Should I include those in all my reviews? Or should I limit it to my longer reviews?
Also, should I divide all my points into sections (like I did in this review here) or just stick to the stream-of-consciousness I've got going on now? Y'all let me know what you'd prefer! I want to make sure y'all are getting the best review-reading experience!