Holding the Fort
Bethany House Publishers, 2017
In command of his fort and his men, but less so of his growing daughters, Major Daniel Adams sends a request to the missionary board for a governess to take over their education. But the woman who ends up on his doorstep is not the dour matron he envisioned. Not only is she young and beautiful, but also none other than the angel of mercy he thought he had imagined assisting him after a most humiliating injury. And something about her story and her statements just doesn’t add up…
Unexpectedly out of a job, saloon singer Louisa Bell travels to Fort Reno in search of a job and her brother. A chance encounter along the way causes her to be mistaken for a governess and with no other options obvious to her, Louisa conceals her true identity in order to keep the position. As if that wasn’t enough of a secret to keep, she must also conceal the fact that her brother is a private at the fort, the infamous Bradley Willis who has gotten himself thrown in the guardhouse yet again for a long list of offenses. And how is it possible that her new employer, the stern and serious Major Adams, landed himself in the compromising position that began their acquaintance?
Louisa finds herself very busy as she tries to smooth things over between Major Adams and Bradley while studying to stay ahead of her pupils and scrambling to behave as the genteel lady she is supposed to be. How long will she be able to maintain her deception, especially as both God and the major begin tugging at her heart?
This post contains affiliate links. Read more about that here. Thanks to Regina Jennings for providing a free copy of this book in exchange for an honest review.
Holding the Fort is such a fun and engaging story. It was certainly amusing to watch Louisa trying to juggle so many balls at once and fake her way through a job she is not at all prepared for. I was simultaneously rooting for her as she worked to keep her secret, while at the same time hoping for her to come clean and tell the truth before it was too late. Throw all that in with the dangerous circumstances the fort finds itself as the strain between the government and the local Indian tribes increases and you’ve got plenty of tension to keep the story hopping.
This book deals a lot with the topics of judgement and forgiveness. Louisa desperately wants to be a respectable lady and leave her life as a saloon singer behind. But that’s a hard thing to do when people automatically assume the worst about girls like her. All of her past and present interactions come in to play as she begins to learn more about God and his power to forgive. It’s a wonderful lesson in learning that what people see and care about when they look at a person is often very different from what God sees and cares about.
Another important topic that crops up is that of church members who act in a less than Christ-like manner, because she was shunned in the past by church-goers instead of being cared for and accepted. That experience hinders her in her journey to faith, and is a good reminder to the Christian reader to be mindful of our interactions with people outside the church.
Despite the serious subjects that Holding the Fort touches on, it was delightfully funny, as all of Regina Jennings books are. I inhaled it over about two and a half days, and loved all the witty lines, like Louisa’s concern over Major Adams’ injury:
‘She couldn’t shake the image of him riding away, hunched over, barely able to stay in the saddle. What if he’d fallen off somewhere and even now was being carried down a hole by a colony of well-coordinated prairie dogs?’
Or these remarks about Daniel’s mother-in-law:
Sheridan looked at Daniel. “How do you endure this?”
“We only correspond when necessary, and always at her insistence.”
All of her books are so funny and I just love them. I’ve reviewed a few in the past, A Most Inconvenient Marriage and For the Record, in case you care to check them out. Holding the Fort is actually book #1 in the Fort Reno Series, so I’ll be looking forward to seeing what comes next for the cast of characters at Fort Reno.