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Book CoverSybil’s review of The Preacher’s Daughter by Cheryl St. John
Historical Romance published by Harlequin Historical 01 June 07

The first time I read this book I enjoyed it but thought the hero read as almost unreal. The second time I read it, was after rereading The Doctor’s Wife, where we are first introduced to the hero as a 17 year old and see more of what should have been his childhood. When I closed the book the second time, I still wanted at least 5 more pages, but thought Ben couldn’t have been more real.

Lorabeth Holdridge is the preacher’s daughter. Reverend Holdridge is very strict and very disapproving of the world. He keeps a firm hold on his children, making sure they lead a life of prayer, chores and reflection. The home is very cold and the children one by one seek escape as soon as possible. Only Lorabeth and Simon are left and have a strong bond with each other. Lorabeth made a promise to her dying mother to not settle for less than her dreams. While waiting for Simon to be old enough to leave she has prayed for a husband, a chance to experience life and finally feels she has a plan that could work and that the timing is right.

After assuring her father she will continue to run his home and do his chores, he gives his blessing for her to live with The Chaney’s. They are the family she has been living with during the week helping Ellie Chaney with her home and her children. Ellie is soon to give birth to another child and Lorabeth is look at as more of a friend and a gift than ‘help’. The Chaney family with Ellie and her husband Caleb, their four children and Ellie’s two brothers Flynn and Ben that Caleb adopted when they were younger show Lorabeth a whole new meaning to the word family.

Benjamin Chaney is now the town vet and finds comfort in his sisters happiness and finds hope in her children. His life is his work and his sisters family. He still hasn’t been able to forgive himself for not being able to protect his sister when he was eight or for what he did to protect of when he was 17. Needless to say, dear Ben is a touch confused and when Lorabeth enters their lives full-time he doesn’t know what to make of her.

So much about Lorabeth mirrors the awe and fascination Ellie, Ben and Flynn had when they joined the Chaney household. But Lorabeth has a father who cared for her, feed her, clothed her and put a roof over her head. Ben doesn’t know what to make of her or how to stay away from her. And once his sister gets involved in seeing Lorabeth get out and become more social Ben appoints himself her protector. She is so innocent and good, as well as so eager for life he is scared for her. Ben doesn’t want Lorabeth hurt or taken advantage of, only problem he sees is who is going to protect her from him.

Or at least he sees that as a problem, Lorabeth is more worried about catching his eye, his interest and his heart. I didn’t think the two characters would work as well as they did because their were both so innocent, neglected and damaged. And I question how they kept going off together for long periods of time alone but I don’t know if a man exist a woman could he safer with than Ben. What works is Lorabeth is so optimistic and has such a faith in Ben, life, God and even though I think she would have every right to hate the man, she truly loved her father if didn’t understand him. And with Lorabeth’s help as well as another family that comes along, Ben grows to see himself for the man he is not the man he fears he could be.

I still wanted more a few more pages. Oh lets be honest, I wanted another chapter. My heart broke for this characters more times than I can count. The Preacher’s Daughter can stand alone and honestly read back to back with The Doctor’s Wife…well they aren’t easy reads. But it is an honest journey with amazing characters, who you can’t help but want to live happily ever after.

Sybils Sweet IconGrade: A-

An untouched woman…

Lorabeth Holdridge longed for life and experience! Cloistered by her strict father, her world was confined to chores and prayer. Her chance of escape came when she took a job as housekeeper to a boisterous family. Lorabeth reveled in her newfound freedom. And when Benjamin Chaney visited, she felt the stirrings of her first crush.

A hard-bitten man…

Jaded and cynical, Ben found it hard to trust, though Lorabeth’s sweetness soothed his battered soul and taught him joy. But he would have to face the demons of his past to find a glorious future in Lorabeth’s arms!