Within My Heart
Rachel Boyd, a widow with two sons, is trying to make a success of her late husband’s dream of a ranch in Colorado’s high country in the 1870s. Rand Brookston, the town’s physician, is in love with her. The two are sympathetic characters, as are the dying shopkeep and his wife, who provide a model of married love and faith. Although this is an inspirational romance, author Alexander doesn’t beat her readers over the head with religion. Faith is rather part of the story, as necessary as time and place in its telling.
For better or worse, Alexander gives her rural town setting and its people such a nostalgic luster that it feels a bit like a Thomas Kinkade painting. Her writing can be clichéd – “gnarled hand,” “reverent distance,” and “patiently waiting” just in the first paragraph – and her hero is impossibly gallant, her heroine stubbornly blind. Even so, the last quarter of this novel offers an undeniable emotional pull (technically a three-hanky emotional pull), providing, as the Romance Writers of America stipulates, an “emotionally satisfying and optimistic ending.”