Winter is the perfect time for reading. This month and next, I’ll be touring several authors on my blog as I receive books from their publicists for review. The first of these featured authors is Joyce Wheeler. Joyce’s debut novel releases this week from Pleasant Word, a division of WinePress Group.
About the Book
Joyce Wheeler’s debut novel introduces readers to Jolene O’Neil, a passionate woman whose life is both plagued and blessed by extraordinary events. Jolene’s reactions to these events have a rippling effect within the lives of others as she runs from a compromised past toward the hope of a peaceful future. Can she choose a course against the will of the God yet still find His salvation?
~From the press release
About the Author
Joyce Wheeler grew up on the prairies of South Dakota, learning at an early age to appreciate the greatness of God’s creation. The transition from rancher’s daughter to rancher’s wife when she married Justin came easy, and they have continued to pass their ranching tradition down to their children and grandchildren.
Joyce’s interest in adventure and intrigue persuaded her to conjure up meaningful stories about ordinary people in difficult circumstances. She has walked, ridden, and drove over prairie trails and used those times to not only praise our Creator, but also weave stories that would reflect her appreciation of God’s world.
As an avid reader, Joyce traveled the world in her armchair with a cup of coffee in one hand and a book in the other, until her own unfulfilled desire to write a book began to unfold. At the urging of friends and family, Joyce took delight in developing characters of her own in and among the settings of a ranching lifestyle in which she is knowledgeable. The result was Joyce’s very first book, entitled My Lady.
In addition to being a wife, mother, and grandmother, Joyce has enjoyed being a homemaker, bookkeeper, and gardener. Her hobbies include activities like family gatherings, music, horseback riding, hiking and ranch work. Some of her fondest memories are skiing with her grandchildren and white water rafting on the Snake River. Her greatest joy, however, is the growing knowledge that God is a part of every aspect of our lives and serving Him is the most exciting adventure of all.
“Jolene watched the parched Wyoming scenery flash by in a dreary sense of brownness as she straddled the back of Dexter’s Harley. The hot August sun beat mercilessly on her black pants and shirt and ran tiny rivulets of sweat down her back. Even with the helmet and earphones, the drone of the motorcycles all around them was deafening and she only caught a small part of whatever Dexter was saying to her…” ~Opening paragraph of MY LADY Prologue
Book Review of My Lady
Review by Michelle Rayburn
I received a complimentary copy of Joyce Wheeler’s novel “My Lady” from the publisher and read it in a weekend. The twists and turns will have readers captivated and waiting for the next surprise, or tragedy. In order to prevent this review from becoming a spoiler, I won’t share the full plot, but main character Jolene O’Neil experiences more than her share of life-altering events. Only a strong woman could remain sane though what she has weathered, and only in fiction can a story move this fast. For the satisfaction of the reader, it’s great to know how each phase of the plot resolves as readers are sure to empathize with Jolene and wonder how she manages to withstand so many losses. I wanted to take her in and protect her.
Wheeler knows how to draw in a reader with drama and narrative, yet I couldn’t help feeling a bit rushed as I processed the story. As the character moved from tragedy to triumph to more tragedy and so on, I couldn’t relate to Jolene’s ability to move on so quickly. But, I felt satisfied at the end with the resolution of the story and I enjoyed the elements of mystery and suspense.
At times, I felt as though the spiritual element of the story was tacked on, and main character Jolene’s decisions sometimes blurred the line between godly and ungodly. Even the threads of redemption don’t clearly demonstrate how Jolene, a believer, was wrong in making certain choices. Ultimately, many of the story elements felt more like guilty pleasure and fantasy for the author and reader than I’m personally comfortable with, mostly because they promoted spiritual mediocrity without acknowledging it was such.
Overall, I think the author has potential and she can write a compelling story, but the competition sets the bar high in fiction.