All Gabriel Coulter ever wanted was to live a comfortable life as a successful gambler, but a confrontation with a disgruntled cowboy who’d just lost to Gabe leads to a family man dying in his arms. Even though it was self-defense, the only way Gabe knows to get rid of his guilt is to return the money he won to the man’s wife. Lara Talbot sees Gabe as a derelict like her husband and wants nothing to do with him. But as she struggles to provide for her family and makes plans to claim property in the upcoming Oklahoma land rush, she wonders if God might have sent the meddling gambler to help.
Gabriel’s Atonement is the first book in Vickie McDonough’s Land Rush Dreams series, and is also the first full length book I have ever read by her. I have, however, read one of her novella collections in the past, so I knew a little about her writing style going in. in all honesty, though, I didn’t expect that I would love this book nearly as much as I did. The synopsis sounded interesting, don’t get me wrong, it’s just that I have been able to read so many wonderfully written books over the last few months, so I’m never sure just what to expect any more when I pick up a novel. Gabriel’s Atonement is such a sweet, captivating romance with just enough mystery and intrigue to make it extremely difficult to put down.
Lara Talbot is such a strong character! I cannot imagine having to care for my son, sister, ailing grandfather, and farm all on my own, and definitely not in that day and age, but Lara does, and does well. Even though her late husband was a no-account and they are strapped financially, Lara really does an amazing job of taking care of her family, especially considering the fact that she pretty much did it all without much help since her grandfather was ill so often. She is also a wonderful mother to Michael, and is just an all-around easy to relate to character, especially when it comes to how she treats Gabe in the beginning.
Gabriel Coulter is such a character! Despite his somewhat unsavory past and occupation, he truly is a wonderfully kind, caring, and compassionate man, and as he grows throughout the course of the story he really does become a man worthy of admiration. I don’t want to give away anything, but Gabe definitely is one of my favorite heroes based on all that he becomes. And even just through the transition. His heart is one of gold, once he allows himself to use it of course.
Gabriel’s Atonement is such a wonderful book, with plenty of romance, action, and just enough intrigue to keep you captivated until the last page. You’ll even be captivated after that as it pretty much sets you up for the next book in the series—Joline’s Redemption—which I’ve already finished and loved as well (I’ll be reviewing it tomorrow). The only flaw I found with this book is one simple part of the ending, I just don’t want to describe it too much because I don’t want to spoil the book for you. Let me just leave it at this: there’s an argument between certain people because of a certain circumstance, and I felt like it was resolved and went back to “happily ever after” a little too quickly and easily for my tastes. Of course, I still loved the ending, it just felt a little too unrealistic for me, which leads me to the decision that I must give this novel four and a half bookshelves instead of all five. However, since most review sites don’t allow you to give books half stars, but only wholes, I will round up to five because I loved this book enough to round up instead of down. Outside of that one teensy-tiny flaw, this was a wonderful book that comes highly recommended from me.
To check out where I’m linking up, click on my Where I Party page.
All credit for the wonderful photo goes to my sister Allie, whose blog you can see here.
All credit for the italicized synopsis goes to Vickie McDonough and Shiloh Run Press.