The Story: Thrown into turmoil by the Civil war, the state of Texas is divided. Most consider themselves Southerners but for the state that isn’t long a part of America, there are those who set their support for the North.
Hannah Dandridge along with her father and her two half siblings have left Vicksburg to start afresh after Mr. Dandridge’s second wife dies. As thanks for his help in support of the south, the man is given one of the ranch properties seized from a family who fought for the “wrong” side… and then Hannah receives word that her father has gone missing following a trip to visit relatives.
Will Barnett is not a happy man. Returning from war, he is not surprised that the people in the small Texas town he hails from feel betrayed at the side he fought for but Will wanted nothing to do with the war – it was his father’s decision after all. The biggest disappointment is yet to come when he finds the ranch under ownership of the lovely Miss Dandridge and the two young children in her care. Two broken people have to learn to work together to salvage dreams or both will end up wronged.
My Thoughts: Tracie Peterson usually writes an excellent story but I found myself irritated more than pleasured by this, the first book of Peterson’s latest series. It tells one about a man returned from the horrors of war not the same person. Not only was Will suffering physical wounds from a war he despised but also emotional ones while Hannah found her survival threatened when the place she didn’t want to be at but had come to think of as home by a man who she knew was really the rightful owner. Such a premise isn’t new to any genre and unfortunately, I don’t think Peterson brought any sort of “new” spin on the story to lessen the clichés.
As the characters go, I didn’t mind Hannah and Will while her siblings are both adorable but until about midway through what I noticed was painfully missing was any chemistry between the leads – it actually sticks out like a sore thumb! There is absolutely no spark between them. It is as if Peterson suddenly wants us to get behind – and believe that the pair should marry. There is nothing leading up to this change of heart and Hannah even has a certain amount of disdain for Will in the beginning because he threatens her home – her living. Perhaps part of the reason I didn’t find this up to the usual caliber of Peterson’s prose is because I have concluded that “prairie” fiction is not really my forte as it used to be. I prefer historical novels in the early 1900’s or 1800-era novels that cover a more genteel age. Either way, Chasing the Sun is sorely lacking.
Themes of a war-torn country fill many of the pages including Will helping a friend attempt smuggling cattle for food across borders. He has a very decided opinion about the war and though I can perhaps sympathize with him a bit I found his disagreement with it frustrating. It seemed that Will spoke against it every single chance he got and as a supporter of the war and troops, I found this… irritating. No one likes war but if it keeps us safe, allows us our freedoms, then I believe it is necessary. Granted, I understand this war was a much different time and for a different cause. Also the Indian culture is discussed in some detail but never becomes offensive for anyone who perhaps wouldn’t find the history of Indian battles or beliefs interesting. One subject that is covered beautifully is the salvation message. It is simplistic but Hannah always is willing to discuss her faith with anyone willing to listen. No matter how much I wanted to like this one, it was not my favorite. Though I will finish out the series and hope it grows on me, I’d recommend readers picking Peterson’s “Ladies of Liberty” series over this any day.
In Summary: Readers who prefer “sensible” romance over passionate or stories about life on the prairie will find this novel set in post-war Texas just what they are looking for.