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Courageous Love Review by Carol EmmertSusan K. Marlow
2450 Oak Industrial Dr. NE
Grand Rapids, MI 49505
Courageous Love is the final episode of the Andrea Carter books. While it is the fourth book in the Circle C Milestones series, Susan K. Marlow has written about Andrea’s life since she was just six years old, and first nicknamed Andi, in the first book of the Circle C Beginnings series set in 1874 California.
In Courageous Love, Andi is nearing her 17th birthday and has finally convinced her mother and older brothers to allow her to learn some trick riding from Riley Prescott, one of the Circle C Ranch’s hands. Andi and Riley have been friends for many years, as Riley’s uncle Sid has been the ranch foreman for as long as anyone cares to remember. After graduating school, Andi’s family has finally allowed her to work full time on the ranch, which has always been her dream.
Trouble starts at the Circle C as Riley and Andi find a cut barbed-wire fence. The fence is supposed to surround Andi’s brother Mitch’s black Angus heifer calves. Then more trouble appears that evening at her brother Chad’s engagement party at the Fresno House hotel in town. One thing is certain, the Carter family will not go down without a fight! Andi’s older brothers, including Justin, a lawyer who now lives in town, work to plan protection for the ranch, the livestock, and their families.
Each chapter in this 186-page paperback book begins with a thought, supposedly copied from Andi’s diary. Although this is a fictional story, Mrs. Marlow has done an excellent job of researching the everyday lives of people near Fresno, CA in the mid-1880’s, and including such exquisite details, that the characters and the places seem quite real. We have found this to be true of all of the Andrea Carter books, of which we have read quite a few. At one point in a previous book, my daughter commented “Mom, you know Mrs. Marlow is a good author when you find yourself cheering with, or crying alongside, the characters during the plot twists and turns.” I whole-heartedly agree!
After yet another attack on the Circle C Ranch, this one burning down their barn, the Carter family decides no one should be left alone. Because Justin needs to travel out of town for a court case, Andi is asked to stay in town with his wife Lucy and their small son Sammy. Lucy is suffering from morning sickness, and Andi’s family thinks it will be easier for Andi to recover the rest of her strength from the smoke she inhaled during the barn fire if she stays in town, instead of chomping at the bit to get back to ranch chores. Little do they know that the Mexican outlaw Procopio, that the Carter family helped identify and send to prison several years before, has escaped and is plotting his revenge on the family.
Andi, Lucy, and Sammy are kidnapped from town. Riley had been sent to town to check on them, but Procopio’s outlaws jump him, beat him, and then leave him for dead in Justin and Lucy’s shed. Then the outlaws fake the deaths of Lucy and Andi to throw any search party off their trail.
Will Riley recover soon enough to find them before the trail goes cold? Will Andi be brave and trust God to tell her what to do and when to do it to protect Lucy and Sammy? Will Procopio ever be brought to justice? Find the answers to these and many more plot twists when you read Courageous Love for yourself!
Both Arlene, aged 16, and I enjoyed this action-filled adventure novel immensely. Besides being an excellent author, Mrs. Marlow loves to interact with her readers of all ages. She has a Facebook fan page, an annual writing contest, and she blogs about life on the Circle C Ranch regularly, as Andi of course! Mrs. Marlow, a former homeschool mom herself, understands the value of enrichment studies to go alongside a good book. She has both free learning activities and in-depth enrichment guides or lap books available for each of her Andrea Carter books for all ages groups from six on up.
Courageous Love is written for ages 12 and up, but would probably be best enjoyed by ages 14 and up. If you have a daughter age 12 or above that loves horses, consider getting her all four books in the Circle C Milestones series so she can grow up with Andi! Since she already had the first book, I purchased books two and three of the Circle C Milestones series for Arlene last year. She was so excited for this final installment to be released and to read the conclusion of Andi’s story. We highly recommend Susan’s books to others - often!
More information about all of Susan K. Marlow’s Andrea Carter books, and the companion activities and guides can be found on her website: http://www.circlecadventures.com.
-Product review by Carol Emmert, The Old Schoolhouse® Magazine, LLC, May, 2017