‘Softly Fall­ing’ a great read on a snowy day

Serve Daily - - BUILDING COMMUNITY - By Deb­bie Bal­zotti

Be­ing snowed in after Christ­mas with a stack of new books is a won­der­ful prob­lem. I’m glanc­ing out the win­dow as Mark shoots snow into the wind with the snow blower and lis­ten­ing to Bu­ble and Men­zel sing “Baby It’s Cold Out­side.”

I just fin­ished read­ing “Softly Fall­ing” by Carla Kelly while curled up on the couch un­der a warm blan­ket in front of the fire­place. It was the per­fect choice for a snowy day. When I con­tacted Kelly and told her I was en­joy­ing her book, she of­fered to send me a hot rock for my feet.

The his­tor­i­cal ro­mance is set on a cat­tle ranch in Wy­oming Ter­ri­tory dur­ing the ter­ri­ble win­ter of 1886. Lily Carteret has been sent away from her un­cle’s wealthy home to live with her way­ward fa­ther. Clarence Carteret mar­ried Lily’s mother, the daugh­ter of a slave and a Span­ish set­tler, dur­ing the first of sev­eral failed at­tempts to man­age his fam­ily’s busi­nesses in the Caribbean, In­dia and Aus­tralia.

After the death of her mother, 5-yearold Lily was sent to board­ing school in Eng­land where she en­coun­tered prej­u­dice and re­jec­tion as a mixed-race child. Miss Til­ton’s school taught Lily how to close her heart and keep her chin up, but it didn’t pre­pare her for life on the fron­tier as a young woman.

The il­lit­er­ate cow­boy Jack Sinclair is the per­fect part­ner for the well-ed­u­cated lady Lilly. Sinclair is the ranch fore­man and be­comes her knight in shin­ing ar­mor. They support and teach each other as the novel pro­gresses, and we ad­mire their qual­i­ties of brav­ery and de­ter­mi­na­tion.

There is much to re­spect and love in Jack, Lilly and the tight-knit cast of char­ac­ters. Ranch hands and towns­folk have to come to Wy­oming Ter­ri­tory from for­eign coun­tries and across Amer­ica for a fresh start.

Since Kelly is a care­ful re­searcher, I know her his­tor­i­cal facts are ac­cu­rate. As she weaves them into the story, the authenticity of lan­guage and set­ting helps read­ers slip eas­ily back in time and place. And isn’t this one of the rea­sons we pick up a book?

The only down­side to read­ing a Carla Kelly book is that she quickly puts you into the story as a sym­pa­thetic ob­server. I felt cold and hun­gry un­til I turned up the ther­mo­stat, grabbed a left-over Christ­mas cookie and went back to read­ing on the couch.

“Softly Fall­ing” by Carla Kelly, pub­lished by Cedar Fort in Springville, is avail­able on the web­site cedar­fort.com or at ama­zon.com in pa­per­back or Kin­dle for­mats. Watch the Serve Daily Face­book page for a chance to win a copy of this book.

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