Sunday, July 5, 2015

Review: Beyond the Ashes by Karen Barnett

Book Cover and Synopsis:
Where better to rebuild and face one’s fears than in 1906 San Francisco, a city rising from the ashes? Ruby Marshall, a young widow, is certain she’ll discover new purpose assisting her brother Robert with his cancer research, but she doesn’t anticipate finding new love. Dr. Gerald Larkspur dreams of filling his empty home with family, but he’d always hoped it would be a wife and children. In the aftermath of the great earthquake, the rooms are overflowing with extended family and friends left homeless by the disaster. When Robert’s widowed sister arrives, the close quarters seem close indeed. Ruby and Gerald’s fledgling romance is put at risk when Gerald develops symptoms of the very disease they’re striving to cure. Together they must ask—is it worth a second chance at love when time might be short?

My source for book: Review Copy
My Thoughts:
I had high hopes for this novel as I really enjoyed the first in the series, but unfortunately the storyline of this sequel never managed to suck me in or grab my attention. It seemed a bit too crowded with all the closely related characters...while I did like their crowded living arrangements, I had a fair amount of trouble keeping everyone's names and family relationships straight.

Ruby's character was fine and I had no qualms with her being the story's heroine, but the leading man, Gerald, unfortunately really annoyed me. He did have faith in God, but his attitude consistently struck me as being quite pessimistic. While this attitude can obviously be realistic, I found that it didn't endear him to me at all. I was also rather irritated that he let his possible health issue go without care for so long.

One of the positives that sticks out in my mind from this story is the character of Patrick, who is a rather eccentric pastor. He's also a possible suitor for Ruby, and I honestly liked him so much better than Gerald. Patrick really has a unique personality considering his profession, and I really enjoyed his part of the story even though he's only a minor character. I hope in the future Patrick might get a book of his own. I would definitely be interested in that!

Overall, I have to say I was glad when I finally reached the end of Beyond the Ashes so I could move on to other things. It's strange because I really really liked the first book in the series, but even the fact that some of the original characters made occasional appearances wasn't enough to save this one for me. I had trouble connecting with the story, and the characters also struggled to hold my attention. I debated between 2 and 3 stars, but I ultimately decided on 3 because there were a few parts I did like, such as Ruby learning to drive despite her extreme fear of cars. (Although this seemed slightly odd as she seemed to overcome her fear a bit too easily given her history.) I'm hoping this book is just a bump in the road and that the next book will once again raise the bar. I'm not ready to give up on the author (or series) yet, so I'm curious to see what the next book will bring.

My Rating: 3 stars

Thanks to the publisher (Abingdon) for providing me with a review copy via NetGalley.

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