Book Review & Interview: Beneath a Prairie Moon by Kim Vogel Sawyer

beneath a prairie moon kim vogel sawyer book review

The synopsis on the back of the book: 

Abigail Grant grew up in affluence and knows exactly how to behave in high society. But when she is cast from the social registers due to her father's illegal dealings, she finds herself forced into a role she never imagined: tutoring rough Kansas ranchers in the subjects of manners and morals so they can "marry up" with their mail-order brides. Mack Cleveland, whose father was swindled by a mail-order bride, wants no part of the scheme to bring Eastern women to Spiveyville, Kansas, and he's put off by the snooty airs and fastidious behavior of the "little city gal" in their midst. But as time goes by, his heart goes out to the teacher who tries so diligently to smooth the rough edges from the down-to-earth men. How can he teach her that perfection won't bring happiness?

  • Genre: Christian Historical Fiction
  • Pages: 349
  • Will be published: 3/20/18
  • Goodreads rating (so far): 4.48 Stars
beneath a prairie moon kim vogel sawyer book review
And He has said to me, “My grace is sufficient for you, for power is perfected in weakness “ Most gladly, therefore, I will rather boast about my weaknesses, so that the power of Christ may dwell in me.
— 2 Corinthians 12:9

Why I Choose This Book

This book popped up at my door one evening by surprise. I was also happy that I received it too - because this book has been on my radar to read! 

First Initial Thoughts

Abigail is a young woman who is part of Bingham's Bevy of Brides and has tried to be placed as a mail-order bride six times. Yep, six times. She grew up in an affluent family and is not used to be living with lower standards. Helena, the owner of the company states that for her last chance, she will teach a group of Kansas ranchers how to act with manners and good morals. Abigail hesitates at first, but she knows that she must do this. She lost absolutely everything when her father admitted to illegal tradings and went to prison for it. So she really had nowhere to go. 

This is my first time reading a mail-order bride story. I knew they were once a thing back in the 19th century but had no idea really what it entailed. It was interesting to learn that aspect of it. Women would go out west and risk everything to begin a new life with a man she never met. 

When Abigail and Helena first came to Spiveyville, it was absolutely hilarious. From their first reactions to an old west town to the conditions they had to live in- was just so entertining to read. 

Mack Cleveland is the owner of the hardware store and picks up Abigail and Helena from the train station, to ride them over to Spiveyville. Their journey in the wagon was also a joyous read. Abigail and Helena's reactions to how tough the trail was, the wind, etc. were just priceless! ^_^

Setting

Kim did an amazing job recreating the town, Spiveyville. I like that she created a town with just the necessities- general store, barber shop, hardware store, bank, restaurant, church, and post office/telegram. That was pretty much really all people had in the old west. And I appreciated that Kim emphasized that. I also found it interesting that she created a town without a saloon. The restaurant used to be the saloon but it was shut down in previous years. I liked that the town put importance on purity and good behavior. 

A new command I give you: Love one another. As I have loved you, so you must love one another. By this everyone will know that you are my disciples, if you love one another
— John 13:34-35

Final Thoughts

My favorite character hands down was Helena Bingham. Even though the main story was around Abigail I just loved her! She was absolutely hilarious and she definitely had a spunky attitude and I loved that about her. I always looked forward to the times that she was in the story - because they were the most fun! 

What I liked too is that there were different perspectives in this story. We got a perspective from each main character. This was helpful in getting to know each character, their strengths, thoughts, and different viewpoints. 

Mack and Abigail's growing affection was just adorable! I appreciated how he was protective of her (but not too overbearing) the whole time. I liked that it was a slow-burning romance. The two started as friends but over time it developed into something more. I think Mack too, helped Abigail learn to trust again as well as understand that perfection is not real nor expected. 

Abigail lost her faith in God because he wasn't there when her father confessed to illegal doings, and she lost everything. However, as the story goes on she learns that God was there. She forgot to remember the good times with her father, which outweighed the bad times. Bad things can happen, but remember that with God you can get through anything. 

Would I Recommend? 

Yes, definitely! Even though this was a Christian book, I think it wasn't too overbearing with Christian themes. It's a good wholesome story- just about anyone would love! 

Q&A with Kim Vogel Sawyer

kim sawyer.jpg

Tell us about your new novel, Beneath a Prairie Moon, and how the idea for it came about.

Several years ago I wrote a book called A Hopeful Heart which featured women from the east coming to a Kansas herdsman school to learn the skills necessary to become ranchers’ or farmers’ wives. Readers enjoyed the humor of watching these Easterners try to brand cattle, cook for a “whole passel of men,” or take care of chickens. Over the years, I received several requests for another mail-order bride type story, so I was always contemplating it. Then I thought, the last book taught the women how to be good wives; why not write one about the ranchers learning to be good husbands? And Beneath a Prairie Moon came to life in my imagination.

Why do you believe readers are so fascinated with mail-order bride stories?

I think it’s the unknown. When you take two people who are strangers to each other, put them into a situation where they either learn to get along or be miserable, it’s intriguing to see how that plays out. We’re encouraged as Christians to choose to show Christ’s love to others, and a mail-order story allows that basic biblical precept to come alive on the page.

The main character, Abigail Grant, finds her life turned upside down when her father is imprisoned for illegal business dealings. How does her story speak to God’s plans for each of us when things don’t turn out the way we expect? 

There as so many things I appreciate about God, but His ability to make beauty out of ashes is definitely close to the top of the list. How many times have we felt as if our happiness was ending, only to find ourselves on the precipice of a brand new and even brighter opportunity for joy? The thing is, God doesn’t see the way we do, with blinders on. He sees how yesterday, today, tomorrow, and every day of our lives work together, and He uses each of our days to weave the most glorious plans for His children. Of course, we have to be willing to let go of some things so our hands are open to receive the greater gift He wants to bestow. I think that was Abigail’s biggest challenge: to release the known and receive what could be.

What message do you hope your readers will take away from Beneath a Prairie Moon?

I always hope readers will recognize there is no greater hope than the one that comes from a relationship with God through His Son Jesus. But specific to this story, I hope readers will perhaps open themselves up to seeing others through Jesus’ eyes. Abigail needed to do this for the townsfolk, and the townsfolk needed to do this for Abigail. When we look (and love) through Him instead of relying on our human failings, hearts change.

What can you tell us about what you are working on next?

Next out of the chute is a contemporary women’s fiction story featuring an Old Order Mennonite woman named Marty and her lifelong friend, Brooke, who was raised by an agnostic mother. Very different women, yet bound by an abiding friendship that faces several challenges when they come together on a special project, rebuilding a Kansas ghost town.

 

Pre-order the book ---> HERE

Do you love fun old west stories too? Share in the comments! 

the caffeinated bibliophile

**NOTE- I was sent this book to review by Penguin Random House Publishing. All opinions are my own.