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Hopeful Heart, A by Kim Vogel Sawyer
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The year is 1888 and Tressa Neill finds herself stepping off a train in Barnett, Kansas. She has come to this town, along with several other young ladies, to attend the Wyatt Herdsman School. Tressa has been sent her against her desires because the Aunt and Uncle who have raised her think it is her only way to land a man. The school is a one-of-a-kind set-up where "Aunt Hattie" will teach the girls from the East the skills needed to become a wife of a rancher; from cooking to branding and horseback riding. The things is, can Tressa survive the training and can she lasso herself a rancher?

This was a unique but very enjoyable storyline. I liked the concept of girls coming west to learn to live in the west before marrying a rancher. The town doesn't lack for ranchers and men who want a wife, so it is a matter of finding the right man for the right girl. Tressa was a lady who at one time was able to see and remember a happy loving marriage before her parents died, and then she endured a loveless upbringing by her aunt and uncle. She wants to find a man like her father.

Abel Samms is a man who wants nothing to do with women, after he had already gotten a "mail order bride" which didn't work out for him. But he wasn't counting on being smitten with Tressa. Aunt Hattie was a jewel in the rough. I loved her desire to see her school be a success and teach the girls how to become a rancher's wife. She was a tenderhearted woman who survived heartache in her life, but who had a strong faith in the Lord and wasn't afraid to share it. A couple of her gems she shared that I really appreciated: "We can't really define good. The problem with our human eyes is that we can only see the right now. But God, He sees around the corner, over the hill, and clean to the horizon. So sometimes those things we face that we don't understand - the things we think of as bad - are really for our good down the line." And then there was, "Man's reasonin' is foolishness in the sight o' God. Just 'cause things don't go the way we want 'em to doesn't mean God's quit carin'. He cares deep, but His ways aren't our. His ways are always better."

The other thing I liked about this story is the mystery behind the cattle rustling going on at Abel's ranch. There were many times when I thought I knew what was going on behind the stealing, but it wasn't until near the end, where the real truth became obvious to me. I always like a story that keeps me guessing until the end. And there were characters in the story that I didn't think I would like, but who surprised me and who I came to appreciate. All around, it was a very enjoyable romance with mystery and danger thrown in to keep it even more interesting. So saddle up and head to Barnett, Kansas for a delightful stay at Aunt Hattie's "Herdsman School". ( )
  judyg54 | Oct 17, 2013 |
*Thanks to Bethany House for providing a copy for review through CFBA.*
  cherryblossommj | May 28, 2013 |
NCLA Review - Desperate and without a dowry, Tressa Neill applies to the inaugural class of Wyatt Herdsman School in Barnett, Kansas in 1888. This school teaches young women from the East skills needed to become a rancher or the wife of a rancher. Abel Samms wants nothing to do with the potential brides his neighbor brings to town. But he discovers something he likes in bumbling Tressa that forces him to reconsider his position. Readers will need to discover for themselves whether or not Abel Samms will risk his own life and his heart to help this eastern girl when her life is endangered. Author of numerous other novels, Kim Vogel Sawyer has written a story replete with plot twists, mystery, suspense, humor and inspiring characters. Throughout this tale the reader will see how God works in mysterious ways to bring comfort, faith and hope to His people. This book is for all readers who enjoy historical western fiction. Rating: 3 —MF ( )
  ncla | May 22, 2011 |
Lacking a dowry, Tressa Neill has been sent west to a school to train women how to be good ranch wives. Abel Samms is a local rancher, determined to avoid marriage. The rest is somewhat predictable, but this is a good story with a lot of humor and sweetness. ( )
  rhonna | Oct 15, 2010 |
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Epigraph
"For I know the thoughts I think toward you, saith the Lord,
thoughts of peace, and not of evil, to give you an expected end."

                   Jeremiah 29:11
Dedication
With a big hug to Aunt Lois,
who always made me believe I was someone special.
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Barnett, Kansas
May 1888

Curling her fingers around the leather handle of the battered carpetbag that held her carefully selected belongings, Tressa Neill fell in line behind the tittering row of young women disembarking the train.
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Amazon.com Product Description (ISBN 0764205099, Paperback)

Dowryless and desperate, Tressa Neill applies to the inaugural class of Wyatt Herdsman School in Barnett, Kansas, in 1888. The school's one-of-a-kind program teaches young women from the East the skills needed to become a rancher--or the wife of one. Shy and small for her twenty-two years, Tressa is convinced she'll never have what it takes to survive Hattie Wyatt's hands-on instruction in skills such as milking a cow, branding a calf, riding a horse, and cooking up a mess of grub for hungry ranch hands. But what other options does she have?

Abel Samms wants nothing to do with the group of potential brides his neighbor brought to town. He was smitten with an eastern girl once--and he got his heart broken. But there's something about quiet Tressa and her bumbling ways that makes him take notice. When Tressa's life is endangered, will Abel risk his own life--and his heart--to help this eastern girl?

(retrieved from Amazon Mon, 30 Sep 2013 13:59:03 -0400)

Abel Samms wants nothing to do with the group of potential brides his neighbor brought to town. He was smitten with an eastern girl once--and he got his heart broken. But there's something about quiet Tressa Neill and her bumbling ways that makes him take notice. When Tressa's life is endangered, will Abel risk his own life--and his heart--to help this eastern girl?… (more)

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