Reviewer: Connie Payne
Title: Three Times Blessed - 2nd in the Belles of Timber Creek trilogy
Author: Lori Copeland
Publisher: Avon Inspire
Release Date: May 2009
Genre/Sub-genre: Historical Inspirational Romance
Year/Setting: Post Civil War, Thunder Ridge TX
Overall Rating: 3.5
Sexual Content Rating: None
Language (Profanity/Slang) Content Rating: None
Violent Content Rating: None
Lori's Website: loricopeland.com
Her future was bright! Blackberry Hill has hired Audrey Pride as their new schoolteacher. What a blessing! In these extremely hard times after the war she not only has a secure job, but she’ll also be near her friends Willow and Copper.
Unfortunately, upon arrival in Thunder Ridge, she accidentally demolished the town’s water tower--though with the relentless rain pouring on a town where "it never rains" they won’t be without water anytime soon--she’s so looking forward to living that down. On top of that, minutes after her and Copper’s arrival, the head of Blackberry Hill’s school board informs her that there was a mistake in her hiring; it won’t be until next year before the school’s reopened. What is she to do? It’s hard times for everyone. She can’t continue to rely on Willow’s generosity. She needs to remain independent.
If Eli Gray won’t open his eyes and see how much she loves him, how much he needs her, then the only thing Audrey feels she can do is to get a job and support herself. However, the only job available is with the Burying Parlor. It sends shivers through her to think of handling a "client" preparing them for burial, but when Audrey is faced with her first body--a victim of an epidemic carried by a wagon train that’s passing through--she begins to see what a service she’s doing for those left behind to grieve and live without their loved ones. The epidemic worsens and Audrey is exhausted beyond belief, but she still has thoughts of claiming Eli as her own.
A job, exhaustion, deadly illness? None of that is going to cause her to give up on setting her hat for Eli. His little boy, Tate, has become so dear to her. She desperately wants to become Eli’s wife and mother to Tate. If only Eli would take notice of her. If only God would see fit to soften Eli’s heart towards her. She’d mighty appreciate it if God would move a little quicker in His mysterious ways, but it doesn’t appear that God sees fit to move at a pace other than His own. And in ways of His own as seemingly one disaster follows another trying the household’s patience as well as their faith.
Though Three Times Blessed was an enjoyable, inspiring read, I was a bit disappointed in one aspect. This was to be Eli and Audrey’s story, their romance. But there were few scenes in which they interacted on more than a solicitous or as needed basis, their page/dialogue time together was minimal. The deadly disease took precedence, followed closely by many scenes with and involving Willow. Yes, I was glad to get reacquainted with Willow again and be concerned for her, but I felt her presence overshadowed Eli and Audrey’s. Their coming together was abrupt and didn’t make sense to me.
Bits of humor give relief to the somber chore of fighting the grave illness. It’s spun in amongst the anxiety and dread that is fairly palpable throughout much of the story, giving the reader a smile here and there and the promise of a brighter future for the characters and town.
One lesson illustrated is sometimes the journey with all its detours and burdens can bring us to a point and time where our eyes and heart are opened wider and we’re not so anxious to have things done our way or right this minute. We are more humble and willing to wait for God’s timing, wait for God’s best.
Now I'm wondering what's in store for Copper...
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