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on April 10, 2000
It's hard to believe this was Janette Oke's *first* story plot, but it remained unwritten (alive only in her head) for so many years! At first, this one is different from many other "Women of the West" books. Usually the first scene from a book in this series depicts a little girl, and we chronicle her life from childhood to womanhood. Not so with this one--after two chapters of character and setting introduction, this story starts right in on plot, and both main characters are adults from the beginning. I loved the little twists and turns as Ariana and Laramie got to know each other (under extremely unusual circumstances!), and I loved the surprise ending. Laramie is an especially vivid character who is easily understood and sympathized with. And of course, Ariana is next to perfect! Oke's light, easy writing style does the storyline perfect justice. This has got to be the finest installment of the series!
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on December 13, 2003
This was a great book. I LITERALLY COULD NOT PUT IT DOWN!! Anyway, Ariana Benson is a sweet and beautiful little school teacher. She was adopted by a minister, for her parent's were killed in an indian raid on the wagon train. Meanwhile, Laramie Russel is a handsome young man who doesn't fit in with the gang of desperadoes he lives with. He was also adopted; his parents were killed in an indian raid to. Well, Laramie's father, "the boss," is upset with his son because he has never killed anyone, which is a shame to the life of a desparadoe. See, Laramie is the best gunman, but he doesn't shoot to kill. The Boss decides that a woman is the only way to get Laramie to kill, so he kidnaps Ariana, and orders Laramie to be her prison guard. Well, over time, Laramie discovers a Bible and begins to read it. He realizes how wrong his life in the gang is, and decides to escape, and take Ariana home. Throught the ordeal, the two fall in love, but later on, discover a secret that threatens to tear them apart. Can the ending hold a happiness for them?? READ AND ENJOY!!
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on July 29, 2001
A Gown of Spanish Lace is the story of Ariana, a sixteen year old schoolteacher. She is abducted from her school right before a storm. She is taken by her captors far from her home. There she loses track of time but never loses her faith in God to take care of her. She is befriended by Sam, one of the outlaws who abducts her. Sam is in charge of guarding the prisoner but then things change. Laramie, son of The Boss, is put in charge of Ariana. This is all part of The Boss's plot and reason for taking her. After Laramie is put in charge of Ariana things take on very interesting turns. People begin to realize they aren't who they thought. I can't say anymore without giving the story away.
This book was a wonderful read. It kept me on the edge of my seat. I had to find out what would happen between Ariana and Laramie. I found myself feeling sympathy for not only Ariana for being in the situation she was in but also for Laramie. He was also in a situation he wasn't comfortable or sure about.
Janette Oke writes such wonderful books. Her characters are so real one almost believes they really did live in the past. Though her books are set in the prairie times the messages in them will be current for all of time. This book is so well written. Events happen at such a pace the reader doesn't have time to catch their breath or stop for a break. You simply must read ahead to find out what happens. I loved this book and was so sorry it ended. I must say I was beginning to get a little worried toward the end when things weren't looking good for Ariana and Laramie. This is a must read book.
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on June 30, 2001
This was my first foray into the genre of Christian historical romance. I must confess that I wasn't expecting much. What do you expect from an author who has filled bookshelves with titles like "Love Comes Softly" and "Love's Enduring Promise"? Rightly or wrongly, I was expecting a sappy secular type romance with a superficial Christian sugar coating. I was pleasantly surprised.
Not surprised about the romance. In fact the romance is a key aspect of the plot. Most of the suspense revolves around the romantic developments in the relationship between Ariana and Laramie. Ariana is a young Christian girl who is orphaned by an Indian raid, leaving no connection with her birth parents aside from a wedding dress inherited from her mother. But the likelihood of her ever wearing this dress becomes remote when she is kidnapped by a bunch of Wild West outlaws (oh yes, be prepared to read dialogue in the language of the old West!) Laramie is the son of the gang's boss, and is commissioned to guard Ariana. Laramie's father is concerned that his son doesn't have the makings of a true outlaw because he shoots only to wound, and is convinced that Laramie will learn to shoot to kill when he is forced to fight over a woman - Ariana (p.24-27). But the anticipated showdown (p.125) doesn't eventuate, because Laramie decides to spirit Ariana off to freedom instead. The reader is left to beg the burning question: how will the relationship between Laramie and Arian develop, and what will be the consequences? And just when the outcome appears to be clear, a sudden twist in the plot unravels a surprise by launching the story in an entirely different direction, not just once, but twice!
But even though plot hinges on romance, the romantic element never becomes offensive or unbearable. Here I was surprised. Oke's treatment of the love relationship is markedly different from the way secular writers and even some Christian writers deal with romance. Thankfully, we are spared graphic details about impossibly good looks, sickening physical attraction and burning passion. This romance is definitely Christian: loving, but sober.
In fact, the whole intention of Oke with this book is to convey a solidly Christian message. As she states in the preface, her aim is "to honestly present the ruthless mind-set of the outlaws ... as to show the hopelessness and helplessness of those who choose to live without law - without compassion - without God." (p.8). In this sense, Oke certainly portrays that the pioneer Wild West was not all romance, but that it was inhabited by wild characters who recognized only destructive emotions. "Hate - bitterness. Envy and greed. Those were the passions he had grown up with." (p.173). Oke effectively shows the destructive effect of such sin and lawlessness - "The whole camp was like a powder keg - about to explode. Given time they would all destroy one another - and the girl too." (p.124) But Oke also shows that redemption from such a destructive lifestyle is possible - through Jesus Christ. The change experienced by her characters is one that can also be experienced by her readers in the same way - by the power of the gospel of Christ.
Weaknesses? Maybe a few. Oke appears to present Laramie as a pure victim of circumstances, and I wondered whether she is rather too optimistic about sinful human nature (p.185,196). Furthermore, towards the end of the book, Oke presents it as a duty for a Christian to right his wrongs, and thus sends Laramie off to apologize to his father and beg his forgiveness (p.202-4). The theology is correct, but the application is incorrect - it plainly contradicts the first part of the book, where Oke presents Laramie's plan to free Ariana as an obvious "right", not as a "wrong." If it was right, surely no apology was necessary!
But these minor ripples aside, this is an enjoyable book, full of surprises. Before reading this book, I didn't think the Christian historical romance genre had much to offer. Oke has shown me otherwise. No it's not literary fiction like Frank Peretti, Francine Rivers, or Randy Alcorn, where the theology carries the plot. This is primarily entertainment fiction, where the plot carries itself. But as such it is a successful execution, and a good read. And as a bonus, the theology that does accompany the plot is warm, upbuilding, and not superficial or unnatural. Oke has surprised me in more ways than one - and pleasantly so. Expect to be surprised! I was!
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on July 6, 2002
"A Gown of Spanish Lace" was much better than "Too Long A Stranger" and nearly as good as "Roses For Mama." As I said before with "Too Long A Stranger," it seemed Oke didn't know who she wanted to be the main character, Ariana or Laramie. From the cover of the book and the summary, you'd think it would be Ariana, but the plot seemed to focus more on Laramie. I find it hard to believe that Laramie was not a harden outlaw, since he was raised with a bunch of hard outlaws. The relationship between Ariana and Laramie seemed unrealistic, but that's where the fiction comes into play. The title threw me off a little - the "gown of Spanish lace" was not introduced until the very end. All in all, it's a good book. I recommend.
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on September 22, 2000
On one snowy, stormy day, a young school teacher, Ariana Benson, is kidnapped from her school, her home, and her very way of life. She is taken to a rough, crass camp, where "the Boss" assigns his son Laramie the task of guarding her. From that day on, Ariana's life is never the same. The two fall in love, but are their plans are halted when Laramie discovers the lace cuff of Ariana's mother's wedding gown in his mother's chest. What can this mysterious coincidence mean? And what are they to do about it? This is the story of a young woman and her kidnapping, disappoinments, and true love, and her steady faith in God which gets her through it all.
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on June 17, 2000
At the benginning of the book I found myself already liking Ariana.Then out of the blue she was kidnapped. .While capitive she had to stay in very poor living quaters,with only her Bible to comforrt her.The bosse's son starts taking care of her if you could call it that.Then the daring escape to Araiana's reltives.But what will become of her?Will she ever wear the gown of spanish lace? I found this book Exciting.I have read it over and over again and I love it more every time.I would recommened it to anyone and everyone
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on October 17, 2000
Ariana and Laramie meet at a camp where Ariana had been kidnapped. They fell in love over time, but were seperated by a chest Laramie found of his mother's who died in an Indian raid. In the chest, there are connections indicating he and Ariana are brother and sister. They were seperated because their parents were both killed in a raid. Over this news, they broke up. Laramie returning to the camp, found his mother's diary. It explained Laraime and Ariana were not brother and sisters, nor were they even related. The end became a joyful reunion and a wedding to follow.
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on June 14, 2003
This has to be Mrs. Oke's best book ever! I've read many of her books but this one is my personal favorite. The characters are realistic and you can't help but get excited when Ariana and Laramie fall in love. But my favorite part is when Laramie gives his life to the Lord!
If you like Mrs. Oke then you definitely need to read Leigh Ann Roberts' books! I just discovered her and am truly thrilled by her new and refreshing story lines!
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on January 14, 2000
At fisrt I didn't like A Gown of Spanish Lace because it kept switching back and fourth to different settings and it made me confused. As I kept reading it got more and more interesting. One night when I was reading,it made so interested that I couldn't stop reading. I would recommend this book to one of my friends that likes to read alot becauseit challenged me as I was reading. (also because a friend recommended it to me.)
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