Desert Isle Keeper
More Than Meets the Eye
More Than Meets the Eye is a fantastic tale of finding love in the American west that captured my heart from the start.
When she first steps on the orphan train, Evangeline – Evie – Hamilton is a tiny child full of dreams. The day she gets off she is a heartbroken little girl, aware that her mismatched eyes have made her a pariah among much of polite society. Many believe her cursed, others believe her capable of casting curses with her disparate orbs. The love of one person can make a huge difference though, and Evie is fortunate enough to have the love of two extraordinary young men. Like her, they had been long term orphans on the train, facing rejection in town after town. At the end of the trip, choosing not to go back to the tough streets of New York, the three build a life for themselves in Texas. It wasn’t easy – there have been plenty of lean years – but now they have their own farm and a decent reserve of funds. The locals may consider them odd, but fifteen years down the road they are just happy to be whole, healthy and have a home of their own.
Logan Fowler is convinced his home was stolen from him. Once one of the denizens of a small Texas town, he’s been wandering the state in recent years, honing his skills as a fighter and card shark. It’s a long way from his mama’s Sunday school teachings but Logan feels it’s a necessity. He’s determined to win back his land from Zach Hamilton, the man who cheated his daddy out of the family farm in Pecan Gap. But when he gets there, the first Hamilton he encounters isn’t Zach, but sunshiny Evie. He’s heard how the town folk talk about her but knows there is no way this bright, lively, effervescent young lady is anything but as wonderful as she seems. And it’s clear she loves her rapscallion brothers a lot. As Logan spends time with Evie and slowly falls under her spell, he finds himself faced with a much tougher decision than he had ever expected: the future or the past. Because if he goes after vengeance against Zach, he knows the price will be the future he could have with Evie. And he’s not sure it’s a price he is willing to pay.
Le sigh. This story is easily the best Inspirational romance I have read in years, if not the best Inspirational romance I have ever read. The execution of the tale is just amazing; I kept waiting for a shoe to drop – for something, somewhere to be off – but instead I got a book that I finished and then restarted with ease.
So, what makes it so great? The writing is delightful. The prose has wit and gentle humor and yet is clear and concise, painting wonderful word pictures. The author does a great job of explaining things without info dumping; I understood why Logan and Evie were attracted to each other, were able to ‘get’ each other because everything I needed to know appeared naturally within the text.
The characters are fully rounded and charming. Logan is an alpha-male without ever heading into alpha-jerk territory. He can shoot, ride, run cards, and prevaricate with the best of them but he realizes that those things have limited merit. He longs for more, which makes it perfect when he meets our heroine. He values Evie right away because he has leaned to see beneath the surface and what he sees is someone amazing. I liked that he didn’t give any thought to her mismatched eyes other than to think they were beautiful. Evie is sunshine to his dark shadows and he finds himself suddenly craving the light.
Evie is a wonderful balance of sweet and good, savvy and capable. She is as friendly as can be to new neighbor Logan but also wary. The man has secrets and she knows those can be dangerous things. Having lived with Zach for years, she recognizes a noble heart behind a crusty exterior when she sees it, which helps her to bring out the best in Logan and hold her own in their encounters. His occasional growling doesn’t cause her to panic, pander or bluster and she keeps calm under fire, a very admirable trait. She has a naturally sunny personality, but it isn’t nonsensical. She doesn’t believe the world is made of sunshine and roses, she just gives everyone a chance and doesn’t let life get her down.
As a couple they are awesome. They meet when Evie follows strange footsteps to Logan’s camp and he saves her from a charging hog who happens to be her pet pig Hezekiah. The two exchange quips and gentle banter, falling into an instant comraderie. Logan is a bit taciturn but that is made up for by the fact that the reader is privy to his thoughts and knows the delight he is taking in the encounter. He and Evie develop a friendship before a courtship although both are thinking of/hoping for more. As the story progresses and secrets are revealed, they work through them with maturity and honor and arrive at a very satisfying HEA. This is an Inspirational so while passion is mentioned and desire is shown, the ‘action’ is kept to kisses.
Like in most religious novels there is a a moral to the story and this is where the author’s skill truly shines. The problem most writers have is keeping that message from overwhelming the romance or from turning the storytelling into a novelized sermon by having the characters pedantically lecture at the reader. In this story, Evie and Logan’s conversations contain faith in a very natural way. From the beginning, they know the other has had some exposure to Christianity since they both have pets named after biblical characters. The conversations they have beyond that initial exchange of information aren’t pedantic but searching; they are both trying to discern how to live a Christian life in a world that doesn’t always make sense. Their talk about God is relevant to them as characters, not just thrown in to give a spiritual veneer to the tale. I also deeply appreciated that the author shows that church isn’t always a safe place; both Logan and Evie find friends and foes in that space. I would say that the religion level is high here but appropriate for the time and place where the tale is taking place. It is also a form of faith that has a universal aspect; finding solace in God and being kind to others are something most denominations teach.
More Than Meets the Eye is an enchanting tale of love between two damaged but resilient hearts. It’s cheery and enjoyable and will definitely leave a smile on the reader’s face. For fans of Inspirational romance, this novel contains everything you are looking for.