Synopsis (from Goodreads): It's 1954 and Perla Long's arrival in the small town of Wise, West Virginia, was supposed to go unnoticed. She just wants a quiet, safe place for her and her daughter, Sadie, where the mistakes of her past can stay hidden. But then drought comes to Wise, and Perla is pulled into the turmoil of a town desperately in need of a miracle.
Casewell Phillips has resigned himself to life as a bachelor...until he meets Perla. She's everything he's sought in a woman, but he can't get past the sense that she's hiding something. As the drought worsens, Perla's unique way with food brings both gratitude and condemnation, placing the pair in the middle of a maelstrom of anger and forgiveness, fear and faith.
Miracle in a Dry Season is a heartwarming story about love, but the central theme is forgiveness. Casewell Phillips has longed for a close, loving relationship with his father, and through a painful journey, he is able to experience what he longed for. Perla longs to be accepted despite the mistakes she's made in the past. She has repented and asked God for forgiveness, but struggles with forgiving herself. She also wants the love and forgiveness that Casewell can give her in order to have a relationship with him. Angie and Liza, twin sisters who have never married, must forgive each other and a man that wronged them both, in order to experience freedom and joy in their golden years. As you can see, this theme of forgiveness runs in several story lines in this novel.
My personal preference in fiction is a faster-paced, more intense love story. This novel is not what I would consider fast paced, but more of a leisurely walk through a moment in time. The romantic aspect of the story was very clean, and I liked that. But I would've liked a little more interaction, even hand holding or some kind of innocent physical touch, that would create a few more sparks between our main characters. I have read many novels that can remain clean and still create that strong romantic tension that makes your heart beat faster. Much of this story had a more relaxed approach to every conflict that presented itself. Although there were a few intense scenes, they didn't last long and were resolved somewhat easily.
I would've liked to read a little more backstory with Perla's character. There were bits and pieces of her story told throughout the book, but I wanted more. There was an obvious scandal circling around her, and even though I don't really want to know all the details of someone's failures in real life, it makes for some good tension in a novel. In general, the tension could have been taken up a notch with our main characters.
This novel is also set in the 1950's in the Appalachian area. I read that in the synopsis so I had it in the back of my mind throughout the novel, but there wasn't a strong focus on the setting. The same story could've taken place in the 1880's in the west and the plot wouldn't have changed much. In fact, there were times that I had to remind myself that it wasn't in the 1800s (but I also read a lot of westerns ; )).
The aspect I particularly liked about this novel were the talents and gifts that were given to some of the main characters. These gifts had a spiritual element to them, as if things were happening that could only be done by God, such as the food Perla cooked multiplying without explanation. At first that part of the story had me feeling skeptical that the author could pull it off, but as I read on I began to really like the way it fit into the plot. Casewell had the same kind of gift with his carpentry.
Looking at this novel objectively, I would say that there were many good things about it. If you like a story that will leave you with a sigh and a sense of completeness after a satisfying ending, you'll like Miracle in a Dry Season. I also thought the theme was well executed and there were several examples of forgiveness that were believable and appreciated throughout the novel. I also love cover art, and I thought the cover was beautiful! However, the novel needed an elevated level of tension--especially on the romantic aspect.
*** 1/2 to ****
I can't decide if I want to do 3 1/2 or 4, but I'll probably go to 4
I liked it~
(I was given a free copy of this novel by Bethany House Publishers via NetGalley for an unbiased review)