Three Words and a Kiss (Love that Counts Book 3) Kindle Edition
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In addition to the fabulous writing, this book moved me with its prominent themes of prejudice, compassion, and faith. Within this novel, the ugliness of racism, ignorance, and fear contrasts sharply with the restorative power of compassion and grace. Even in the face of opposition, those with kind hearts remain generous and faithful depriving prejudice of its power.
I was also surprised and delighted by the prominence the author gave to a strong, female character, named Samantha. Samantha consistently chooses acts of compassion and service rather than submitting to cultural expectations and family obligations. Her sincere desire to do the right thing more than to do the expected thing was inspiring.
Within this book, there were several significant scenes of clean, vulnerable, and passionate romance. More than being simply fun to read, the romantic moments in this book also served an important role in the story fostering the emotional and spiritual development of the characters as they grappled with their own motives, desires, insecurities, expectations, and fears.
Three Words and a Kiss is a wonderful piece of historical fiction. It is rich with relevant themes and thought-provoking ideas. It is romantic, emotionally stirring, faith-filled, and ultimately uplifting. It is a novel that I will long remember for the lasting impact that it has had on my thoughts and upon my heart. This novel was engaging, meaningful, and a pleasure to read. I recommend it wholeheartedly.
I am a serious fan of Sondra’s writing. If she wrote it, I’m there. Plus, this is the third installment in her Love That Counts series and I have basically been holding my breath since reading the second book, Two Ways Home. I cannot tell you how excited I am to get to read this book!
Opening Line (from Chapter 1):
Seattle, Washington, July 9, 1892
The first stars pricked through the sky’s fading canvas as Samantha Klein approached the intersection of Washington and First Avenue, looked both ways, and crossed a line.
The book opens with a high-stakes scene where Samantha is placing herself at risk to visit a group of women (and a young boy) in Seattle’s Chinatown. I so want to tell you what happens next, but of course, I won’t spoil it. Let’s just say, you won’t want to stop reading.
Samantha “Sam” Klein – She is undeniably a misfit in her world but in all the right ways. As intelligent as she is beautiful, her impulsiveness combines with her hugely compassionate heart to get her into many delightfully troubling situations. Her character is richly drawn, with a past that colors her present in ways she doesn’t even recognize at first. Watching her develop and grow as the story progresses is something I think readers will particularly enjoy.
Cameron “Cam” Wallace – Yes, their nicknames rhyme and that is mentioned in the story, but it is neither overdone nor the focus of the story by any means. It is just one more stick in the fire of their relationship. Similar to Sam, Cameron doesn’t realize how much his past affects his behavior. He thinks he has things nicely handled and planned out. Until Samantha arrives. She is exactly what he needs to show him the cracks in his “perfect” life. I enjoyed watching his real struggle to come to grips with certain revelations and learn to move forward.
David Brown – He’s the nearly-grown son of the interfering, love-to-hate-him Mayor of Pine Creek, Johnston Brown, and he is struggling with the typical issues that go with his age and an overbearing father.
Fa Feiyan – Mother of seven-year-old Wang Yong and self-appointed guardian of sixteen-year-old Ya Wen, she struggles with not letting her legitimate fears for the safety of those she cares about rule her life.
Barrett “Bear” Clarke – The hero from book one in this series is back as Cameron’s best friend and local rancher. It’s great to see his and Claire’s story progress, as well as to see more of his relationship with Cameron.
Luke Thomas – The hero from book two in this series, he’s the local sheriff now, and happily married to Mary. It is interesting to see how he’s adjusting to a more sedentary life and to see him placed in a position somewhat at odds with Samantha.
Okay, I just have to tell you there are so many more fantastic characters in this book – characters I would LOVE to see featured in their own books – but if I bring them up here it will spoil some surprises, so I am resisting. But only just.
Emotional Engagement & Pacing of the Story:
I admit to a slight bias here as I had already fallen for Cameron in the first two books of this series and I have a particular interest in Chinese characters of this era. However, I think even without this, the first chapter alone would be enough to draw a reader into the story and the second would secure their emotional interest in seeing what becomes of Miss Samantha Klein, her big heart, and her vulnerable friends. By the third chapter if you aren’t dying to see how Samantha and Cameron get along . . . well, I just won’t understand it.
I could not put this book down. I fell in love with the characters, the town and the heart of God reflected in this story.
Elements I especially liked/disliked:
I loved that Cameron and Samantha both made real mistakes with real consequences, and I loved that they were forced to make difficult decisions as a result of those mistakes.
As I mentioned before, I especially enjoy reading about Chinese characters from this era. I also enjoy …. grrr. I SOOOO want to tell you something right now but I can’t. Not without spoiling a big surprise. So I will have to keep it to this: Somehow Sondra Kraak managed to include several of my personal favorite elements in this story, making it my number one favorite of all her books. In fact, this book is one of the best that I have read in the past twelve months.
One last note: Due to the nature of these two characters, this book gets a little more sizzly (I’m making this a word) than her previous two books in the Love That Counts series (while staying within the bounds, of course) and I have to admit, I enjoyed that also.
Overcoming past hurts.
The role God plays in our emotions (vs intellect).
How God uses people to show His love.
*Sigh* I cannot tell you how much I love and adore this ending. No, really, I can’t. Because if I told you all the reasons I loved it, I’d give away those surprises I keep mentioning. You’re just going to have to trust me on this one. You won’t be disappointed.
5 out of 5 stars
I did receive a free advance copy of this book in exchange for an honest review. I was not required to write a positive review. All above opinions are 100% sincere and 100% my own. That said, I loved this book so much, I purchased an official copy for myself after it was released AND purchased two more copies for friends and family who love this genre as much as I do.
Investing in a small Pine Creek, Washington smithy, Samantha determines to earn enough income to support her ethnically diverse friends back home. Her unique spontaneity brings her face-to-face with Cameron Wallace, whose own dreams include owning the blacksmith shop, where he serves the close-knit community as a talented metal worker, and part-time pastor.
Never in his wildest dreams did Cam think that a woman like Samantha Klein, "emotionally erratic, also kind, though naïve", could be part of a divine plan for his life. Her determination to watch his every move undoes all the tight seams that Cam has carefully sewn around his self-control. "He didn't do well with complicated", and yet the giddy blacksmith wannabe had successfully wormed her way into his every thought.
As you laugh, and possibly cry, over Samantha's journey to the cross, and Cam's misguided sense of an abundant life, enjoy page after page of deep, inspirational truth displayed within two individuals whose writer completely understands the height, breadth, and depth of God's intimate love for his creation, for sometimes He "surprises us with his whispers".
I received a copy of this book from the author. The opinions expressed are entirely my own.