No Other Will Do by Karen Witemeyer (review)

nootherwilldo_witemeyer_bethanyA Ladies of Harper Station Novel

She Trusts Him for the Job,
But Can She Trust Him With Her Heart?

Men are optional. That was the credo Emma Chandler’s suffragette aunts taught her and why she established Harper’s Station, a women’s colony that offers a fresh start to females in need. But when a dangerous and shadowy assailant tries repeatedly to drive the women out, Emma is forced to admit they might need a man after all. One who can fight. And there is only one man she trusts enough to ask.

Malachi Shaw has finally earned the respect he’s always craved by becoming an explosives expert for the railroad. Yet when Emma’s telegram arrives, he rushes back to Texas to repay the girl who once saved his life. Only she’s not a girl any longer. She’s a woman with a mind of her own and a smile that makes a man imagine a future he doesn’t deserve.

As the danger intensifies, Emma, Mal, and the ladies of Harper’s Station must choose safety or whether to risk everything to fight for their future. (from publisher’s website)

Karen Witemeyer never disappoints and this latest novel is her at top form – I could feel the confidence and skill of the writer. One of the things that stood out to me are the fantastic chapter endings that kept me wanting to read more. I adored this book – the plot, the pacing, the characters. The heroine is relatable, the hero is crush-worthy, the mystery is well paced and had me guessing a bit.

She didn’t have a claim on Malachi, at least not a romantic one.  They shared a bond forged in childhood, a powerful friendship, but it was nothing more than that.  It couldn’t be.  She had her work with the women’s colony and he had his demolition job with the railroads.  No two paths could be more divergent. (p.124)

The author has created a wonderful setting in which she can play.  A colony in 1880’s Texas where women can escape abuse and live independently, neither of which was an easy task. Co-founded and led by a young woman raised by suffragettes, as the heroine of the story Emma Chandler tries to appear calm and strong but knows when to call in help.  Emma has a banker’s mind, a soft heart, and is both admirable and sympathetic as a character.  Her aunts are a delight and a fun contrast to each other.

Any time he settled too long in Emma’s vicinity, he started thinking more about her and less about who the traitor might be.  One would think that working with dynamite would teach a man better self-discipline. (p.136)

And then there is Malachi Shaw.  Mal.   The Firefly fanatic in me wants to compare him to another Mal.  Damaged, but honorable and respectful while quite capable of providing the help that Emma needs.  If I were given to having crushes on characters from books, or “book boyfriends,” Malachi Shaw would definitely be one of them.  And a certain scene where he teaches Emma to shoot a gun would be a prime example of why.

I have read and enjoyed every book (and novella) that Karen Witemeyer has published and I credit her books with getting me back in to reading a genre that I had abandoned years ago.  Along with her storylines and characters, it was the combination of faith, romance, and humor that really hooked me.

“The only thing you can control is yourself – your choices, your actions, your thoughts.  And if your choice is to believe the best about people, to extend kindness where others turn their backs, to offer hope where others offer only scorn, then I stand by my earlier assessment.  You are following in the steps of Jesus!” (p.168)

5/5 stars, highly recommended for readers of Historical Fiction or just a darn good book.  In case there is any doubt, this is me trying very hard not to “gush” in a review, spoil every plot-point, or make additional comments about a certain male character.

This was one of my most anticipated reads of 2016 and is a new favorite.   A wonderful blend of action, romance and faith. I only hate that I have to wait to read the next Ladies of Harper’s Station book.  Worth the Wait, an aptly named novella, is scheduled to be released in January and is already on my list of anticipated reads for 2017.  I am so looking forward to reading more about a certain freighter and the Harper’s Station mercantile owner.

No Other Will Do by Karen Witemeyer | Bethany House Publishers, June 2016 | paperback, 364 pages

This review refers to a copy given to me by the publisher, in return for an honest review. Any gushing that may occur is strictly involuntary, though not required.