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What if you had to choose between true love and a daughter’s duty? Could you give up a comfortable life of luxury for the man you love in spite of his circumstances? What if your family’s well-being depended upon your marrying a wealthy man? Could you sacrifice your heart’s desire for your station’s expectations?
Molly Lovelace faces these challenges and more in Regina Jennings’ second novel, Love in the Balance. Travel back in time to Lockhart, Texas. It’s the late 1800s and life is rough. Bailey Garner knows this better than anyone. Not only does he struggle with finding and keeping a job that will allow him to support a family, but he also deals with issues of faith and temptation. Bailey loves Molly, but can he prove he’s good enough? Molly wants to marry Bailey, but is she willing to give up wealth and status to be a poor man’s wife?
What I liked…
I really enjoyed being taken back in time to another place and society. Regina Jennings’ vivid descriptions and realistic characters show the time and care she has taken to create Molly’s world. Words like “felicity”, “besotted”, and “highfalutin”, to name a few, really add a rich taste to the text. I was truly swept away, to say the least.
I also felt really connected to Molly’s character as she struggles to choose between love and doing what her family expects of her. She feels an obligation to do her duty as a daughter, but she also has a softer side that could care less about what others think of her. Throughout the book I saw a transformation in Molly as her faith and values change. She becomes a kind and loving person, with a desire to serve God and others, despite what her society thinks is proper. I believe that even though Molly’s story takes place in the past, it holds truth and value for us as Christians today. Love in the Balance is essentially a romance, but underneath its story of love goes beyond Molly’s relationship with Bailey. Here we see the meaning of Christ’s love and true friendship. I think this underlying message is one so many of us need to hear, especially in our current surroundings.
I also enjoyed that I could appreciate Love in the Balance as a stand-alone book. I haven’t had the chance to read its predecessor, Sixty Acres and a Bride, but that didn’t take away from Love in the Balance one bit. Now that I have met Rosa and Weston, however, I have the urge to go back and read their story as well. This speaks to the author’s fine writing, of course. If I am thirsting for more, it’s clear the writing is top notch. Thanks, Regina!
I recommend Love in the Balance to all with a love for historical fiction. It is a sweet love story with a deeper message. Regina Jennings writes to please the reader and she has accomplished her goal to its fullest in her second novel.
About the Author…
Regina Jennings is a graduate of Oklahoma Baptist University with a degree in English and a history minor. She has worked at The Mustang News and First Baptist Church of Mustang, along with time at the Oklahoma National Stockyards and various livestock shows. She now lives outside Oklahoma City with her husband and four children. You can learn more about Regina by visiting her website at www.reginajennings.com or by connecting with her on Facebook and Twitter. You can also visit her LitFuse page at http://litfusegroup.com/author/rjennings.
I had the blessed opportunity of getting to know Regina Jennings a little better through email, and she has been kind enough to answer a few questions for me. I am an aspiring author and am just tickled to share some of her answers and insights with you.
Me: Love in the Balance really swept me away to another time. How do you prepare when writing a new novel? Do you have a special research process? Do you outline? Anything you could share about your preparation would be great!
Regina: Before I begin plotting I immerse myself in the times, the setting and the sounds of that location. Reading is my primary research tool, but I also cut and paste images to help me picture the setting and the characters. Architecture, clothing, actors and actresses that resemble the characters, transportation—anything that deserves a full-description. And so far I’ve been fortunate enough to be able to travel to the locations of my stories.
I also keep a file of story ideas. When I hear an interesting historical tidbit, or an interesting situation from years ago, it goes into that folder. Sometimes it’s a colorful character I’ve come across through research. When I start plotting I’ll dig in there and see what fits. I think of it like arranging furniture. Sometimes I find a perfect piece. If that means another piece needs to be thrown out, then so be it. I just keep arranging until everything looks good.
Me: Molly is faced with some tough choices throughout the book. What is the one thing you desire for readers to take with them after reading Molly’s story?
Regina: Primarily, I want them to be entertained. Novels are about the journey and the characters you travel with. Otherwise they’d call them sermons. 😉
But as we can acknowledge, the best stories challenge us to look at life differently and see what we may have missed before. Writing Love in the Balance caused me to examine what memories and judgments I associate with people. A moment in time and one bad decision can change a person’s reputation for the rest of their lives. After putting Molly’s story on paper, I’m deliberately trying to change that tendency in myself and I wouldn’t be surprised if it affected others the same way.
Me: Your publication story is amazing! What is one thing you would say to aspiring writers to encourage them? Is there a Bible verse you turn to whenever you are feeling particularly discouraged?
Regina: You know, while I always dreamed of being a writer I didn’t pursue it for years. I don’t know that I would’ve had the perseverance that many aspiring authors do. I guess it’s just a matter of knowing what God wants for you and following Him, because I wasn’t sure this is what He wanted at all. Others know years before they finish their first novel that this is what they are meant to do.
My encouragement would be this – Don’t worry about a career. Don’t be concerned with the final outcome. Just be obedient today. No, even that’s too hard. Be obedient for the next hour. The next five minutes, even. If you can write now and it will bring God glory, then write. If you need to leave your desk and take care of supper, then feed your family to God’s glory. If He surprises you with another way to serve, then do it gladly. Ask God to make you sensitive to the opportunities He gives.
A verse that encourages me? Psalm 103:14 “For He knows our frame; He remembers that we are dust.”Why does this encourage me? Because sometimes my kids think I can do everything. Sometimes my husband has too much confidence in me. Sometimes I wonder if I can live up to expectations. Guess what? God knows what I am. He remembers the dust he used to form me. If He gives me a task He no more expects that I can do it on my own than I’d expect my seven-year-old to remodel my kitchen. Yes, there are tasks that He prepared beforehand for me to accomplish, but He knows I can’t do it alone. He’ll never leave me to achieve His will without Him.
Don’t forget about the author chat and Facebook party tomorrow, April 4th, at 5pm PDT/ 8pm EDT. For details on how you can enter to win a Kindle Fire, please see my previous post.
Disclosure: I received Love in the Balance for review through the LitFuse Blog Review program. I was not asked to write a positive review. All views and opinions expressed are solely and completely my own. I received no compensation other than an ebook copy of Love in the Balance, which is mine to keep. This post also contains affiliate links. To learn more, please read my full policy.
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