Amanda’s Beau, by Shirley Raye Redmond, takes the reader back to 1905. Living in Aztec, a village in the New Mexico territory, Amanda is responsible for many things. Her sister, Ella, has been unable to function since the accidental death of her husband, and Ella has a new baby that she is unable to care for. In addition, Ella’s older son, Rex, needs a guiding hand. Add to these burdens: the running of the family farm, financial woes, and loneliness—and Amanda has more than enough to worry about.
Amanda, a sensitive and kind young woman, does shirk from her duties, but what she would like more than anything is to have a family of her own. She would like someone with which to talk, share, and create a family. But when could she possibly meet someone in between all of her commitments?
When Nate Phillips, a smooth-talking archeologist, is invited to come to Aztec to investigate local ruins, he captivates Rex and the other schoolchildren with his fancy automobile and his stories of adventure. Nate turns his attention to Amanda as well, and he is sure he will make strides with her. Will Amanda be swayed by Nate’s magnetism or will she find romantic treasure in a more steady and subtle package?
Gil Gladney is the local schoolteacher, and he has taken a shine to Amanda as well. He sees her godly, steady, self-sacrifice and he thinks she would make the perfect wife. However, he does not have the money to support her in the way that he would like. Should he let Amanda go to find happiness and adventure elsewhere?
I enjoyed this book immensely. First, I enjoyed the characters. Though some of them were quite moral and religious, there is a lack of preaching in Amanda’s Beau. Yes, there were religious overtones, but they were subtle. The most important lessons were moral ones: doing what is right, sacrificing for others, being kind and true, and waiting patiently. These lessons were well presented and not overly didactic. I also enjoyed the subplot with Amanda’s sister, Ella, who as struggling to cope with her husband’s death. She was wracked with grief, unable to take care of her own children, and for a while, quite hopeless. Those scenes were very realistic to me. I also enjoyed the scenes that took place at the excavation site. I think this was a good choice of an unusual setting. I learned a bit of history in the process of reading.
I am not exaggerating when I say that the pages flew by in Amanda’s Beau. Though there was no major conflict or clamorous action scenes, the characters were delightful enough to carry the novel. This was an engaging book and a joy to read. Recommend!
*I received a copy of this book in exchange for an honest review. Regina