A Candle in the Window
I was hoping to read and review A Candle In The Window before Christmas-time because the “holiday spirit” literally permeates the book. Unfortunately, putting the book down after the riveting and emotional first few chapters was far too easy, and it took me over three weeks to finish this sometimes heart-tugging but all too often bland romance.
Luke McKenna has been shot and is on the run from bounty hunters. His six-year-old daughter Beth is tucked within his jacket and a blinding blizzard is raging. If he doesn’t find shelter soon they’ll both be dead before the bounty hunters find him. Mere moments from death, Luke stumbles onto Molly Lambert’s property and promptly passes out cold from blood loss.
Molly, a schoolteacher and a spinster who secretly longs for true love, has been living just another day of her quiet and lonely life when her dog Lady alerts her to the snow-covered pair. She carries Beth to the safety of her home and is about to return for Luke, only to discover that he’s managed to awaken enough to drag his wounded self inside. Molly barely has time to put Beth to bed, remove Luke’s bullet, and sew up the wound when more trouble, in the form of a bounty hunter, arrives at her door. Luke dispatches the intruder and reveals his rather dire situation to Molly. Rather than picking up her gun and holing up in the nearest closet (like I would’ve done!) Molly reacts calmly and allows Luke and his very ill daughter to stay until the storm subsides.
Luke’s a widower and a loving father who was imprisoned for a crime he didn’t commit. Now he’s managed to escape but will never truly be free because he faces a future on the run from the law. While Luke was doing hard time his little girl was placed in an orphanage. Because he cannot allow her to grow up feeling unwanted and unloved, he “rescues” her but never really thinks things through: he has no clue what he’s going to do with her when he reaches the Canadian border. Tenderhearted and emotional Luke just assumes and hopes he’ll find a good home for her somewhere along the way. As the storm rages father and daughter are stranded much longer than Luke had anticipated. During a major crises he discovers that Molly is a strong, loving woman and decides to leave Beth in her care while he leaves her life – quite possibly forever. Molly is touched by his offer; since she’s always wanted a child of her own she agrees to raise his daughter. But her heart breaks a little bit more every time Luke mentions leaving.
Luke’s “leaving” is the big dilemma keeping the couple at arm’s length even though they begin to fall deeply in love during his extended stay – which keeps getting extended as storms, illnesses and other problems arise. Will he stay? Will he leave forever? And will I care when the book finally ends? Well . . . yeah! Luke is a really good guy, albeit a bit confused and misguided at times, who deserves a happy ending; and Molly, although a tad too sweet and accepting, is a fine heroine deserving of love. She exhibits some fine backbone when she chooses to. Beth, a very large player in the story, acts like a real child with emotional outbursts and all. She is alternately annoying and lovable, and if you don’t like stories with kiddies you may want to avoid this one! These are decent, realistic people and their characterization is the strong point of the story.
However, despite all of the inner turmoil and outside conflict, the picturesque descriptions of life in a small town, as well as the tear-jerking scenes, the narrative flow of the story slowed down to a snail’s pace too often. The consistent “is he leaving or isn’t he?”, truly the main conflict in the story, and the less than sparkling interactions with the townspeople only served to intensify the book’s slowness. More unfortunate, and in contradiction to the rest of the book, was that the climax was rushed. Not only did it pass by in a blur, but it was a cop-out that was highly disappointing and contrived.
If what you’re looking for is a warm and fuzzy romance to read on a snowy day, you may want to consider A Candle In The Window. If you see it heavily discounted at your local Wal-Mart or used book store, great – but I wouldn’t recommend paying top dollar for this one.