When I decided to read (at least) 12 books by authors of color this year, I knew it meant that I would be reading lots of books outside of my comfort zone. Surprisingly, that’s the part I’m coming to enjoy the most. I’ve heard authors say, “I never read in my genre” and I have to be honest, I never understood it. Now I do. To put it simply, when you read in your genre it’s not really for enjoyment. It’s more about dissecting the book, figuring out why this story arc works and this one doesn’t. Comparing your work to others who are successful and wondering where and how you can improve. Yeah, not fun. But now that I’m reading outside of my genre I find myself getting lost in the story and enjoying reading again. It totally pulled me out of my reading slump.
So yeah…If you’re in a reading slump I advise you to get out of your comfort zone. And The Preacher’s Promise by Piper Huguley is well out of mine. It’s a historical, sweet romance and if you know me at all, you know that I don’t read either. Historical always feel a little problematic for me, especially when it’s is set during or after the Civil War. Preacher’s Promise is set in Reconstruction Era Georgia and it paints a familiar picture of the genteel south, shaped by recently abolished slavery. Amanda Stewart, free woman and recent graduate of Oberlin college, has recently lost her father and simultaneously discovered that she has been left destitute. She could’ve done any number of things at this point, things that could have put her in danger, but she immediately took on a job as a teacher. I loved Amanda. Huguley did an amazing job of giving this character agency. She is head strong, sometimes to a fault, but I appreciate that she wasn’t timid or easily frightened in situations where she should be, especially when it comes to Virgil Smithson, Milford’s mayor, blacksmith AND preacher. (Whew! No one would accuse him of being lazy.) But Virgil was stubborn and sometimes inexplicably bound to propriety. And the two of them together were very frustrating at times! The sexual tension! Ugh!
This being a inspirational romance means that even with all that tension, I didn’t get the…release I desired (heh :), but it was still extremely enjoyable. And what I loved most was how it demonstrated that even during this time in history, in theleast desireable circumstances, love can still bloom. It was sweet and tense and full of characters that I’m anxious to revisit.