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The Ride of Her Life

The Ride of Her Life is a historical fiction novel by Lorna Seilstad, and the third in her Lake Manawa Summers series.

It’s the summer of 1906 in Lake Manawa, Iowa, and Lilly Hart has no interest in any other man than her six-year-old son Levi.

Not only is she a self-determined woman who is still mourning her late husband of three years, but she also has no time for any courting nonsense. She’s only recently decided to leave the home of her interfering, wealthy in-laws who have been pushing to send Levi to a boarding school – which she flatly refuses to do.

To make ends meet on her own, Lilly is working as a cook at a popular luncheon. Her in-laws find this unsuitable though, and begin to ask for custody of Levi. When a tall, handsome stranger who designs roller coasters, and is currently working on one in Lake Manawa, intercedes on her behalf, Lilly gets angry.

After all, she doesn’t want or need to hide behind anyone else. Lilly can take care of Levi herself. She can provide him a home, like she always wanted as a child. It’ll just take a lot of hard work.

What Lilly doesn’t know is that the attractive stranger isn’t easily swayed by her obstinate streak. He, in fact, is ready to take her on the ride of her life…

I’ve actually been interested in reading the Lake Manawa Summers series for quite a while, but this was my first opportunity to dive in. I would suggest that, if you’re able, you read the series in order – Making Waves and then A Great Catch – as there are some spoilers for the earlier books in this one.

The Ride of Her Life felt fresh, fun, and as perfect for summertime as the sparkly waters of the lake itself! Lorna Seilstad offers up an outstanding amount of humor and energetic personalities from the get-go. The flavor of 1906 is robust and delightful with many small but helpful details to transport you to the time period and feel of the era.

Lilly’s tension with her in-laws is a palpable threat – especially as we get to know her and her adorable, precocious boy. Since I became invested quickly, it was very worrisome. Lilly’s likable as a patient, loving mother who desperately wants to protect and prosper her child. Her flaws and blindness of the obstacles she may give herself due to her own stubbornness make her more relatable.

Once you add in the swoon-worthy romance, which happily doesn’t take a contrived route, you get a truly irresistible, addictive read that ranks up there for me with Julie Lessman. Both create three-dimensional characters that aren’t held back by the Christian theme but enhanced by it. I really didn’t want to stop reading The Ride of Her Life – and I really wanted to summer at 1906 Lake Manawa!

I implore you to read The Ride of Her Life, even if you don’t usually delve into historical fiction or Christian fiction. This is a novel that is wonderful, amusing, touching, and rarely cliché. Plus, it has a level of emotional honesty that can be erratic in the genre. It’s an overall joyful, satiating read.

Come on… you know you want to try it!

*Available May 2012 at your favorite bookseller from Revell, a division of Baker Publishing Group

*I received a copy of The Ride of Her Life from the Baker Publishing Group. Their generosity in no way influenced, nor sought to influence, my opinion of the novel.

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