Wednesday 18 January 2023

Summer at West Castle - Theresa Linden - A West Brothers Story

Anyone But Him
A West Brothers Book
Theresa Linden
Silver Fire Publishing
ISBN 9781734992953

First I must state I loved Anyone But Him, and I loved even more this prequel or back story to that work! Linden in the dedication states:

“This book is dedicated to the fans of Anyone but Him who asked me to write about the summer Caitlyn and Jarret fell in love. Thank you for inspiring me.”

And I am so thankful she wrote this story. I have to admit I thought about this back story off and on over the last five years. Anyone But Him, was such a good read and took the original West Brothers series in a whole new direction for older readers. She also stated in the Acknowledgements:

“I love every aspect of writing faith-filled stories, from the moment inspiration strikes through the first draft, editing, and final edition. And I particularly enjoy the prayer and study of the Faith that accompanies each one I write.”

As a backstory to Anyone But Him it is excellent, but it is also more than strong enough to stand on its own or to be read first if you have not read the other. It is an excellent story of faith, family, friendship, and growing in the Lord. Part of the story is about Jarret’s desire to change the way he lives, to live out his faith and not be the ‘guy he used to be’. And part of the story is Caitlyn spending the summer working at The West’s helping take care of nanny after surgery and using the time as a retreat to really seek God, and his will and plans for her life. The description of the novel is:

“College student Caitlyn Summer arrives at the Wests’ castle-like house to fill in for their live-in maid. After a recent decision blows her vision of the future, this ideal job and the peaceful surroundings are just what she needs to seek God’s will for her life. That is, until Jarret West, not wanting a repeat of past mistakes, backs out of a summer-long field study overseas and returns home. The two have never gotten along, and unforgettable baggage from the past makes it hard even to be cordial. While Jarret’s faults convince Caitlyn he hasn’t changed, she forces herself to offer kindness. Her act of mercy puts them on an unexpected path where Caitlyn is challenged to look beneath the surface and Jarret struggles to trust that God wills good for him.”

I was greatly impressed with how Linden wove the faith of the two characters throughout the story. They grow, struggle, and even their confront faults and failures. This is a story that Madeleine L’Engle would have called realistic fiction or Chronos real time, real people, and what could be real events. Like L’Engle most of Linden’s earlier works are for youth, this is her third that is for older young adults, or even geared for the adult market. Also like L’Engle – Linden is a master of her craft. I believe I have read all of her published works and a few of them more than once. 

This story is billed as contemporary romance. And to be honest I typically do not read romance, it has been an element in some YA books I have read, but never picked up a book just because it is romance, and likely never would! I would say this story is more real life. In many ways it is far more focused on the personal growth and faith than the romance, though it does play in context of the blooming relationship. 

In this story you have a man desperate to change, change who he is, how he acts and how he is seen by others. You have a woman who plans for a quiet summer of prayer, and work at a beautiful house in the woods. He does not think he is worthy of her, and she cannot fathom his being interested in her.  

In an earlier review, and earlier in this review I compared Linden's writings to Madeleine L'Engle and with every book I read I am more convinced of the similarities. If the Chasing Liberty Series would be the Kairos series and the West Brothers would be the Chronos series, this this book would be like the second generation or L'Engle's later fiction. I am very impressed with Linden's word craft and her mastery of writing deeply moving stories. I believe that she is an exceptional writer, and this is another excellent offering. I have read all of the West brother books, some of them more than once. This is another story that continues with those characters, in many ways it felt like it was like dropping in on friends you had not seen in years. Another first rate read from Linden, once I can easily recommend!

Note: This book is part of a series of reviews: 2023 Catholic Reading Plan!

Books by Theresa Linden:
Tortured Soul

Chasing Liberty Series:
01 Chasing Liberty
02 Testing Liberty
03 Fight For Liberty
Bound to find Freedom - Short Story


West brothers Series:
Roland West Loner
Life-Changing Love
Battle for His Soul

Standing Strong
Roland West Outcast
Fire Starters

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