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I'm a writer and library worker who wears many hats. I believe a good book and a good piece of chocolate are the keys to a happy life.

Friday, February 27, 2009

Counting the Cost by Liz Adair

I have read several titles by Liz Adair, and thoroughly enjoyed many of them, so I clapped my hands and did the “goodie-goodie” dance I save for cool books when her latest title Counting the Cost showed up in my mailbox. What followed was sort of a roller coaster ride of ups and downs for me as I read.

I read the first chapter at lighting speed. I had a good time with the descriptions and fun story presented, but then came a big lull in excitement. It took me a much longer time to get through the first third of the book then it normally does. I blame this on me, personally, and a few issues I had with the story in general. Here’s how it played out. Though Counting the Cost is not a “western” per say, it is set in that atmosphere and I’m not a western type of gal. So, while I could appreciate some of the action and descriptions, I did get lost in them.

The type is small and the book is thick. Not normally a big deal for me, but when combined with other factors such as life disasters that were leaving me already exhausted, when I looked for a reading escape it looked too daunting to read in any large chunk of time. Because I saved it for snippets instead of “serious” stretches of reading I kept getting lost in the many characters coming in and out of Heck and Ruth’s lives. The writing was still good. Liz is an excellent storyteller, but I felt overwhelmed, like she was telling me much more of the story than my tiny brain could handle at the moment.

The last two-thirds of the book went much better for me. I buckled down, gave it some serious attention and found myself caught up in the story more easily. By the end of the book I had truly come to care about the characters and where their choices would take them.

In a nut shell, Counting the Cost is a story about a cowhand, Heck, and a beautiful debutant, Ruth, that fall in love. The problem is Ruth is already married to someone else. Heck is a noble character who does his best to avoid a bad situation until he finds Ruth bruised and battered from abuse at her husband’s hand. He steps in and takes Ruth to live with him in a remote cabin. They were very literally “shacked up” if you’ll excuse my very poor pun in a time when that was simply not done for any reason. This choice leads to consequences both good and bad and a very candid look at what it really means to commit to a relationship with someone. It was an eye opening experience.

I also appreciated that Liz included both some of the simple joys, as well as the difficulties associated with their lives together. It reminded me that there are always at least two sides to a story. In our own lives that can mean the difference between happiness and malcontent. Sometimes it’s just a matter of finding the side that matters most rather than the one that bugs us the most.

Counting the Cost also carries a blush factor warning. Though the intimacy scenes in the book were very tasteful and discreet they are there. Counting the Cost is very much about the connections between a man and a woman and the physical connections can’t be ignored in this kind of book. This isn’t a steamy romance; it’s a portrait of two people making choices: some good, some not-so-good. Just be aware that the content is there.

There are two reasons I’d recommend Counting the Cost. First, it really is a story that has much to share about learning to deal with the consequences of our choices and how to show compassion for the choices of others- we’re all really doing the best we can with the situations we find ourselves in. Second, because a portion of the book’s sales will go to benefit Serving Women Across Nations (SWAN). Seeing a need, and then finding a way to do something about it is always a wonderful thing.

Kudos to Liz Adair for Counting the Cost and her compassionate and motivated spirit.
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