Friday, October 1, 2010
Head in the Clouds by Karen Witemeyer
Adelaide Proctor is a young woman with her head in the clouds, longing for a real-life storybook hero to claim as her own. But when a husband-hunting debacle leaves her humiliated, she interviews for a staid governess position on a central Texas sheep ranch and vows to leave her romantic yearnings behind.
When Gideon Westcott left his privileged life in England to make a name for himself in America's wool industry, he never expected to become a father overnight. And five-year-old Isabella hasn't uttered a word since she lost her mother. The unconventionality of the new governess concerns Gideon--and intrigues him at the same time. But he can't afford distractions. He has a ranch to run, a shearing to oversee, and a suspicious fence-cutting to investigate.
When Isabella's uncle comes to claim the child--and her inheritance--Gideon and Adelaide must work together to protect Isabella from the man's evil schemes. And soon neither can deny their growing attraction. But after so many heartbreaks, will Adelaide be willing to get her head out of the clouds and put her heart on the line?
My take: I'm quite enamored by this book. First of all, Adalaide, the protagonist, loves Charlotte Brontë's, Jane Eyre. I realize Jane Austen is much more fashionable, but Jane Eyre is my favorite classic. It's tragic, rather dark, and unexpectedly more tragic (for some reason, that last part made me laugh) and then the ending is incredibly sweet.
Head in the Clouds is nothing like Jane Eyre besides Adalaide falls for the father of the child she is governing. In fact, that set me up for expecting a cheesy story with a cheesy ending. Not so. Adalaide's character is well developed. Not only that, Gideon, the handsome sheep rancher, is not surrounded by mystery, as many romances are written. Gideon is a transparent, Godly man with a British upbringing. Sounds pretty perfect yet he is painted with a brush of humanity rather than demi-god.
Head in the Clouds refers to the Hebrew people in the time of Moses. When the cloud moves from the tabernacle, it is time for the Israelites to move, too. Adalaide finds herself making decisions based on her own wants rather than God's will and those decisions don't work out so well. Her character develops a reliance on God. Even when time is of the essence, she listens and remembers, "Be still and know that I Am God." That spoke to me simply because that "Be" is the hardest one for me to remember.
It is a romance and includes a sweet, happy ending (sorry to ruin it). "Husbandry thoughts" occur to Gideon but the book is clean with the conflict resting on keeping Bella safe from her wretched uncle. Another unsavory character is introduced and provides additional conflict and I really hated him.
There is blood, contextual violence, and the Texas life is not sugar coated. Sheep herding, horse riding, living in the dusty country is not clean and comfortable. Shearing of the sheep is not bloodless nor romantic. There are no flushing toilets (necessaries) in the wild nor is there indoor plumbing for a relaxing bath.
And yet, in the realistic world of Texas, a romantic bubble persists. Like Adalaide, I am a hopeless romantic who likes a good, clean romance (with husbandry and wifery duties performed without the audience of the reader. Intimated, and definitely performed, but I don't need all the details. Just a few).
4 and half stars.