At the age of twenty-three, postmistress Grace Cristler has all but given up hope of finding a husband among the narrowing group of eligible men in her town of Fairland, Kansas. But when her uncle decides to retire from the pulpit, Grace is responsible for corresponding with the new preacher set to take his place. She can’t deny the affection growing in her heart for Reverend Rufus Dille—a man she deeply admires but has only met through his letters.
Theophil Garrison is on the run from his past. Ten years ago his outlaw cousins convinced him to take part in a train robbery, but Theo fled the scene, leaving his cousins to face imprisonment. Now they’ve finished their sentences, but the plan for vengeance has just begun. Branded a coward and running for his life, Theo has a chance encounter that could provide him with the escape he needs.
But the young man’s desperate con might come at an enormous price for the tenderhearted Grace—and the entire town. Will Grace’s undeserved affection and God’s mercy make something beautiful from the ashes of Theo’s past?
An outlaw masquerading as a preacher could be the ultimate con. I already feel bad for Grace, but I’ve a feeling grace will play a large part in the story.
I’ve got mixed feelings about Grace and the Preacher. I liked the premise, but somehow I didn’t enjoy it. I felt the plot was unrealistic in some parts and too simplistic in others. I couldn’t connect to the main characters either.
Theo Garrison’s original plan to avoid his past was to return to his roots in Iowa, even though I felt anyone who knew him would surely guess where he’d gone. He never intended to take the preacher’s identity but it seemed like a solution to his problem when people made an assumption and I think he could’ve tried harder to correct them. Grace Cristler, meanwhile, became obsessed with marrying a man she’d never met. At least, that was my opinion. Her fixation was too much for me and I disliked her early on in the book, even though I knew she was going to be the victim of deception. In contrast, I liked Grace’s friend, Bess Kirby, who owned the boarding house in Fairland. And I enjoyed both the physical and spiritual journey that Theo’s cousin, Earl, undertook. But it wasn’t until the end that I felt even slightly sympathetic toward Grace and Theo.
The best part of this novel is probably the spiritual theme. We learn that God has plans for us, no matter what we might think we want. This came across particularly in Bess’s story as she tried to work out her future. Then there’s the concept of grace that both Earl and Theo managed to grasp due to their interactions with strangers, but it took longer for the woman named Grace who finally had to be shown it by someone not raised in a church or God-fearing home. How sad to not even ‘get’ the meaning of your name.
Thank you to Waterbrook for my complimentary uncorrected proof of Grace and the Preacher, which I received in exchange for my honest review.
Have you read Grace and the Preacher? Do you plan to read it? Let me know your thoughts.
Publisher: Waterbrook (an imprint of Penguin Random House)
Publication Date: 21 March 2017
Page Count: 352