Out Of The Ashes, by Tracie Peterson and Kimberly Woodhouse
[Note: This book was provided free of charge by Bethany House Publishing. All thoughts and opinions are my own.]
Having read a couple of books by the author before , I am convinced that this author’s romances are not really my cup of tea. Yet again we have a historical scene where the protagonists are in a remote place. Again the main characters struggle with PTSD, even if there is no name for it yet, and again there is a high degree of preachiness in the character’s interaction with others. There is love and marriage and death, an encouragement of maturity on the part of a silly younger sibling that will likely find a suitor in a later book of the series, and even a first marriage that goes disastrously bad and leaves a young woman conveniently a widow. These are all elements I have read in the author’s work previously–there are even interactions with Alaskan natives, although these are less fraught with danger than the interactions in the previous books I read by the author. Clearly this author works within a narrow range of writing historical romances about people tormented with PTSD , something I find deeply unsettling and uncomfortable.
This book offers an unusual cast of characters who by chance and design get stuck at the same Alaskan hotel near Mt. McKinley (or Denali, if you prefer). And what is our cast of characters in this preachy melodrama? We have a French young man Jean Michel who is guilty about having avoided World War I but afflicted with leg wounds and PTSD from his experiences in the Druze revolt in the early 1920’s in Syria and his flirtatious younger sister Collette, who have just lost their father and are grieving. We have Katherine, a woman that Jean Michel had loved and lost five years ago, who is overcoming the abuse suffered at the hands of her late Senator husband, who is brought to this hotel because of her scheming and (spoiler alert) dying grandmother, who has heart failure and wanted to bring the former lovers back together. We have a Scot-Irish cook and her Scottish assistant, with whom she quarrels continually until he nearly dies and then they get along conveniently. There is a woman who serves as an assistant cook who married a couple of years ago and is having a pregnancy that leaves her confined to her bed. We have a boiler explosion, close encounters of the bear kind, a quarantine because of a flu outbreak, and a French soldier not in his right mind who feels it necessary to deliver a message to try to bring him out of his own torment over what happened in Syria. Much of this is accompanied by a great deal of heavy-handed preaching on the part of the book’s characters about the need for a Savoir and solo gracia.
In looking at this book, I get the feeling that the authors are writing this book and the dozens like it in the author’s oeuvre for themselves as well as for others. But who else is reading this book. These are not the sort of romances that are likely to gain crossover appeal with many guys. These books seem to be written to reasonably intelligent Christian young women who suffer from PTSD and want to know if love will come their way, and the book promises that it will with a ruggedly handsome military man who suffers from PTSD as well so that two broken people can be healed by the grace of God. That is all well and good, except that life is seldom as convenient as this book would have it, where the circle of people is very small. There is a fine line between a work that is meant to demonstrate divine providence and a book that simply offers unrealistic convenience, and this book (and others by the author) cross that line too often, especially because what divides the couple until the ending in this book seems so unrealistic. I secretly wished for the young woman’s husband to actually be alive as that would be a real obstacle, but alas, I was to be disappointed in seeking something that was genuinely a surprise. This is an author I will likely avoid in the future, having given three chances to write a compelling romance and having been disappointed each time.
 See, for example:
 See, for example: