“Tried and True” by Mary Connealy

Kylie Wilde is the youngest sister—and the most civilized. Her older sisters might be happy dressing in trousers and posing as men, but Kylie has grown her hair long and wears skirts every chance she gets. It’s a risk—they are homesteading using the special exemptions they earned serving in the Civil War as “boys”—but Kylie plans to make the most of the years before she can sell her property and return to the luxuries of life back East.

Local land agent Aaron Masterson is fascinated with Kylie from the moment her long hair falls from her cap. But now that he knows her secret, can he in good conscience defraud the U.S. government? And when someone tries to force Kylie off her land, does he have any hope of convincing her that marrying him and settling on the frontier is the better option for her future?

It’s been quite a while since I’ve read any Christian Romance, and this was the perfect book to get me back into loving the genre! I liked this book a lot! The characters are complex and compelling, the plot is packed with action and mystery, and the writing is fun and full of cowboy charm.

This isn’t great epic literature or anything, but a sweet and easy read that really holds your interest! I was actually sick the day I read this, and it kept my mind off the pain.

I love that, while the book shows characters who trust in God, there is no sermonizing or preachy passages. Some Christian authors try to beat you over the head with religion, and it detracts from the enjoyment of the story; but this author just throws in little tidbits about faith that work within the plot and enhance the character development rather than distract from the story. Beautifully done, and I found it really encouraging and spiritually uplifting!

The writing balances comedy, romance, faith, and adventure, along with the darker themes of war, jealousy, feminism, racism, murder, hate, and crippling fear. The plot moves fluidly, sweeping you along in the romance and mystery. There’s never a good place to stop reading, because it’s all so fascinating!

Usually I’m not a fan of switching POVs in a book, but the POV transitions so flawlessly between Kylie and Aaron. I loved seeing each of their perspectives!

I’m not a huge fan of Old West cowboy settings, but this book gave me a fresh look at what life on the frontier might have been like for three women pretending to be men, and doing all the work a man would do. I loved it! The descriptions are concise and clear, putting you right in the middle of the scene with just a few words.

This book also addresses the struggle women faced back then and today to find their balance in a world of men. Most feminists are so busy proving that they can do anything a man can do that they forget that it’s also okay to act and dress and talk like a girl. Women can be whatever they want, whether that’s a cowboy or a housekeeper, a pilot or lawyer or teacher or stay-at-home mother. This author does a wonderful job of finding that balance. Kylie wants to be treated like a princess. She wants to wear skirts and have pretty things. She hates roughing it. This does not make her any more or less a woman. Shannon and Bailey want to wear pants and run their own farms and never ask a man for help. This also does not make them any more or less a woman. They can do as they please and call it good. I think the lesson here is not to deny any part of yourself or try to conform to what other people expect. It’s good to be strong, and it’s good to be weak sometimes. It’s good to want pretty things, and it’s good to want a career, and it’s good to want a family. Just be who you are! There is no right or wrong way to be a woman. Excellent philosophy in regards to feminism!

I enjoyed this book so much! I might pick up some other books from this author.

I received this book for review from Bethany House Publishers. All the thoughts and comments in this review are my own honest and unbiased opinions.

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