Author: Paula Peckham
Genre: Historical Romance
Series: San Antonio #1
Release Date: April 9, 2022
Disaster strikes a wagon train en route to Texas, leaving 18-year-old Abby in charge of the survivors, all children younger than her. After an attempted kidnapping, the others convince her to disguise herself as a boy. Initially reluctant, Abby soon realizes life on the trail is much easier without bulky skirts. The disguise allows her to do things as “Abner” she couldn’t do as Abby. It's intoxicating.
Disfigured by fire as a child, Manny, a young cowboy, is lonely and yearns for companionship. His scars and the judgment of townspeople make it difficult for him to trust others. He intercepts the wagon train and agrees to help the children finish the trip to San Antonio. A new friendship cracks the protective walls built around his heart. Hope blooms when he meets “Abner,” and Manny’s fear of rejection slowly dissolves.
As the weeks on the trail go by, Abby develops romantic feelings for Manny, and he values his first new friendship in years. When Manny discovers her deception, it destroys the fragile bond of friendship growing between them.
Can God help the two young lovers find trust, faith, and forgiveness on the hot Texas plain?
Reviewer: Timothy McKay
I have always preferred novels that feature romance tastefully but off to the side of a grander story. I would hardly expect to take a book from my local bookstore's 'Romance' section and rank it among my favourite reads. Yet I might just have been converted by Protected by Paula Peckham. Her writing carries a grace and ease that makes an editor's heart skip a beat, a quality of style most authors could only aspire to. And I left the experience feeling uplifted and entertained, a combination that feels harder and harder to find. I highly recommend this book, and not just to usual purveyors of romance. Those who deal in historical fiction, inspirational writing, and good storytelling will all find something to enjoy here.
Paula's plot in Protected kept me gripped enough to want to keep reading without feeling tense. Twists and turns keep the story engaging for lovers of action without detracting from the underlying tranquillity and trust in God I felt throughout as the reader.
The children at the story's center inspire perseverance and faith in the face of trials and sorrows of all kinds. And Paula brings to life a period and place in history where such challenges were plenty, and the adventure of life was as likely to shatter dreams as it was to realize them. But her characters emerge with hard-won lessons and, thanks to the kind generosity of those at the end of their journey, new homes and hopes for prosperous new beginnings.
As for romance, on two or three occasions, the story hints at sensuality without being grotesque. But I cannot say it avoids being provocative. The lust and confusion of early romance that Abby and Manny wrestle with is an honest depiction of young love and fighting temptation. For some readers, this will straddle the line of thinking on what is good and pure (Philippians 4:8). I do think some readers will struggle with the temptation to use Abby and Manny's lustful thoughts (however brief and scattered) as an excuse to dwell on their own desires. But their budding love tells a beautiful tale of growth and forgiveness that warms the heart. So I hope you'll find this book as uplifting as I did. It's worth your time, and you'll be better for it.
I received a review copy courtesy of the author through Interviews & Reviews for my honest opinion.
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