Publication Date: October 2011
Publisher: Baker Publishing Group
Genre: Christian Fiction/ Inspirational/ Historical
Pages: Paperback, 316pp
(Received for an honest review from Revell Books)
Purchase: Barnes & Noble, Book Depository, Christianbook.com, IndieBound
Serena Miller on the WEB: website, journal
Excerpt from The Measure of Katie Calloway
HER HEART SEEKS SANCTUARY IN THE DEEP WOODS. BUT WILL TROUBLE FIND HER EVEN HERE?
The Civil War has ended, but in Katie Calloway's Georgia home, conflict still rages. To protect herself and her young brother from her violent and unstable husband, she flees north, finding anonymity and sanctuary as the cook in a north woods lumber camp. The camp owner, Robert Foster, wonders if the lovely woman he's hired has the grit to survive the never-ending work and harsh conditions of a remote pine forest in winter. Katie wonders if she can keep her past a secret from a man she is slowly growing to love.
With grace and skill, Serena Miller brings to life a bygone era. From the ethereal, snowy forest and the rowdy shanty boys to warm the cookstove and mouth-watering apple pie, every detail is perfectly rendered, transporting you to a time of danger and romance.
Serena Miller gives Christian Fiction readers an original setting and a streamlined plot in her latest book, The Measure of Katie Calloway. Set against the backdrop of a post Civil War lumber camp, this book offers the reader an inside view of camp life and shows the strength and determination of one woman who wants a better life for herself and her brother. Detailed descriptions and compelling characters set this book apart from typical Christian Fiction stereotypes. Miller's knack for setting the scene and drawing the reader in will captivate her audience in this endearing historical romance with an inspirational flair.
In order to make any historical title work whether it's Christian fiction or romantic suspense it has to be well researched. Serena Miller obviously did her homework with this novel. Her descriptions of the northern Michigan logging camps is not only accurate, but interesting. She chooses a very different setting than most Christian fiction titles, which allows her work to show originality and creativity. She doesn't follow the traditional patterns of the genre either, which is refreshing.
My grandfather was a Scottish immigrant, who came to the United States in the early 1900's. He and my grandmother spent many years are proprietors of the general store for a lumber camp in the woods of Kentucky, so this setting is particularly interesting to me and I thought Miller was able to pull it off with style. She uses her descriptive power well in this novel on everything from food to camp life and I think readers will appreciate her attention to detail. They will be able to hear the lumberjacks felling the trees and smell the apple pie cooling in the summer breeze.
I also liked the fact that Miller didn't stay away from darker themes and ideas. Her portrayal of the spousal abuse that Katie is forced to endure and eventually flee from is well written and packs a punch. Readers will find themselves sympathizing with this strong, courageous woman. It was interesting for a Christian fiction title, that the lead character falls in love with another man while still being linked to her abusive husband. I thought that was a stretch for the genre, but it worked well with the idea of the book. That there are second chances in life and that finding people who love an support you is key to a happy life. I liked that the author pushed the limits of the genre and was able to make it convincing, if a little unorthodox.
Miller creates a wonderful supporting cast for Katie and Roberts story. From the dynamic men of the lumber camp to Katie's ruthless husband, but if I have one criticism it is in the use of Katie's brother Ned. Ned comes across as almost unnecessary character. He adds very little to the overall story and I think Miller missed out on a chance to make him a more vital part of the book. There was a lot of potential for Ned, but it never seemed to come to fruition. Regardless, the rest of the cast of characters is very well developed and each one adds depth and flavor to the novel.
I recommend this one to Christian Fiction readers, especially those who are looking for something a little different than the average CF fare. I also recommend it to historical romance readers and inspirational fiction fans. This book has a lot of heart and some very compelling characters. It deals with some heavy issues including abuse and doesn't shy away from the hard questions. I look forward to Miller's future in Christian and Inspirational fiction. If this book is a taste of what's to come, my interest is peaked and ready for more.
Available October 2011 at your favorite bookseller from Revell, a division of Baker Publishing Group.
I'm giving this one 4 out of 5 apples from my book bag! It would have been 5 had Ned's character been more developed.
Serena Miller is the author of Love Finds You in Sugarcreek, Ohio, as well as numerous articles for periodicals such as Woman's World, Guideposts, Reader's Digest, Focus on the Family, Christian Woman, and more. She lives on a farm in southern Ohio.