Enduring Light by Carla Kelly
Expected Publication: January 8, 2012
Publisher: Bonneville Books, an imprint of Cedar Fort, Inc.
She leaned toward him and rested her elbows on the brass rail at the foot of her bed. “All right, cowboy, just when did you fall in love with me? I’m definitely curious now.”
He regarded her in the moonlight. “I knew I was a no-hoping goner when I caught that ridiculous hat of yours on the platform at Gun Barrel.” Julia sucked in her breath. She tried to be severe. “Mr. Otto, nobody falls in love that fast!”
“I did,” he said simply, as he left her room.
Julia Darling is finally able to marry Paul Otto for eternity. But it’s a harsh world for a rancher in turn-of-the-century Wyoming, especially a Mormon rancher. When alienation and threats begin, Julia must prove she’s her husband’s equal in strength and endurance as she learns to let go of scars on the outside and inside.
Bestselling author Carla Kelly has woven a new story of a determined rancher, his wife, and how they discover the depths of love.
In the beginning of Enduring Light, Julia and Paul are in love and are making plans to be married. At first, they have to spend most of it separated because he is searching for the cattle he lost during a bad fire at his ranch that almost claimed Julia's life. They also experience more problems both before and after marriage because of discrimination due to being Mormons. Paul is a "new" Mormon, and many of his old friends and acquaintances do not believe he is doing the right thing. Julia is sure of her decision to leave her "easy" life in Salt Lake City and take on the hard role of a rancher's wife in Wyoming because she loves him and knows that is where she should be, and even with the threat of danger, Julia will not leave Paul for the safety of her hometown because she is certain in her love for him and her belief that she belongs with him.
This book is similar to Christian fiction. I know that the two faiths are very different, but it is the best way I can think of to describe this book. The main point of Enduring Light is putting your faith in the Lord and trusting in him to help you endure any hardships that you face. You are also reminded that people are not always who they seem.
On the downside, I felt that some parts of this book could have been left out and still retain the underlying theme. It sort of dragged in some areas. I also have mixed feelings about the many references to sex. On the one hand, this is a clean romance, and there were no detailed discussions in it. On the other hand, it seemed there were a lot of references to sex for this being a LDS fiction book. Plus, there were many times that I felt were missed opportunities for the author to have provided a little more knowledge to non-LDS readers, such as myself, about the LDS beliefs. I understand this was mainly written for a LDS audience, so most will not see this as an issue. For an example, when the men would give a blessing to a person, it would have been nice to have just a little background about why men of the LDS church do this.
Overall, I did enjoy reading Enduring Light. It is an inspirational and touching story of love, trust, and enduring all hardships with your faith in the Lord.
An ARC was provided by the publisher for this review.
Guest Post by Carla Kelly:
I’ve often thought that the moment fiction writing turns into a chore, I would stop. After a lot of books, that hasn’t happened yet. One thing a writer learns after a while is that it’s the readers who are part of the fun – probably a big part.
When Borrowed Light was published January 2011, I had no plans whatsoever to write a sequel. The story ends appropriately, and no one was left hanging. Previously, I have only written one other sequel: One Good Turn was the sequel to Libby’s London Merchant. It came several years later, after a lot of readers wanted a Happy Ending for the duke who lost Libby to a wonderful physician in Kent.
Vondell, my water aerobics buddy, told me right away: “You need a sequel.” Others said the same thing, so I started thinking about the further adventures of Julia Darling and Mr. Otto. I had enjoyed the characters, which is what a writer is supposed to do, or she’d never put a word on a page. And Julia and Mr. Otto were special to me, because I was finally writing a book that explored my own LDS roots a little.
Enduring Light took me only two months to write, because I knew those characters well. I must agree now with the folks who wanted more, because I wanted to know what happened to them, too. I’ve never written a book as fast as I wrote Enduring Light. Guess it was meant to be.
I wanted Enduring Light to be a loving portrait of a brand new marriage, one for time and eternity, which is how we do it in the Mormon faith. That means taking the good along with the bad and persisting. Since it was written for a largely LDS audience, I suppose, and since Cedar Fort, Inc. doesn’t go in for the graphic, it had to be a sexy book without being, well, sexy.
You can determine if I succeeded in that, but a lovely review from Publisher’s Weekly calls it “endearing” so I think it made the grade. This is a couple, after surmounting some heavy obstacles, who are in love, and the readers deserve to know that.
My personal favorite part of the book? I have many, but this one shines through: I dedicated it to Laura Lee Wilkinson, a rancher’s daughter from Laramie Peak, Wyoming, who married her cowboy, Chuck. After a long marriage, and several years of struggle with Chuck’s Alzheimer’s, and congestive heart failure, Chuck passed away last April. Laura misses her cowboy.
The dedication reads, “To Laura Lee Wilkinson, who loves a cowboy, ranching and Wyoming.” Love doesn’t die, which is why that dedication is in the present tense.
In the novel, Mr. Otto mentions a rancher, name of Bell, who lives at Laramie Peak. That’s Laura Lee’s grandfather. You see, beyond the story itself, this is how a writer has fun: writing to include her friends in the adventure.
So thank you, Vondell, Laura Lee, and a bunch of readers. You were right. We did need to know more about loving and enduring.
About the author:
Carla Kelly is a veteran of the New York and international publishing world. The author of more than thirty novels and novellas for Donal I. Fine Co., Signet, and Harlequin, Carla is the recipient of two Rita Awards (think Oscars for romance writing) from Romance Writers of America and two Spur Awards (think Oscars for western fiction) from Western Writers of America.
Recently, she's been writing Regency romances (think Pride and Prejudice) set in the Royal Navy's Channel Fleet during the Napoleonic Wars between England and France. She comes by the love of the ocean from her childhood as a Navy brat.
Carla's history background makes her no stranger to footnote work, either. During her National Park Service days at the Fort Union Trading Post National Historic site, Carla edited Friedrich Kurz's fur trade journal. She recently completed a short history of Fort Buford, where Sitting Bull surrendered in 1881.
Following the "dumb luck" principle that has guided their lives, the Kellys recently moved to Wellington, Utah, from North Dakota and couldn't be happier in their new location. In her spare time, Carla volunteers at the Railroad and Mining Museum in Helper, Utah. She likes to visit her five children, who live here and there around the United States. Her favorite place in Utah is Manti, located after a drive on the scenic byway through Huntington Canyon.
Any why is she so happy these days? Carla looks forward to writing for an LDS audience now, where she feels most at home.
You can find out more on Carla Kelly's blog, Facebook, and the Book Poster page.