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About the Book
My Heart Belongs in Castle Gate, Utah is the first book I’ve read by Angie Dicken, and while I enjoyed it, there were some minor issues that did affect my opinions. I can recommend it, but with reservations.
Ms. Dicken has written a carefully crafted romance dealing with racism, class discrimination, and the plight of immigrants in the early 20th century. This is not a period or theme that is popular in most of the fiction I’ve read, so I was excited for the setting.
And the author does not disappoint there! The city of Castle Gate feels alive and so do the secondary characters. They are not mere plot points but have dreams, opinions, and stories of their own.
Leanna McKee is our heroine and I liked her. At the beginning of the story, she is a widow dealing with guilt over the way she treated her husband while he was alive. Her husband Jack had been a gambler and gambled away savings they were going to use to move to San Francisco. Leanna views Castle Gate as a stop to somewhere “better” and is angry that she remains in Castle Gate. She is a schoolteacher and teaches the class of immigrant Greek children, separated from the American children. Her faith is strong though she struggles with forgiveness toward her late husband.
Alex Pappas is the hero of this book. He’s a widower who moved to America to make money for his sick wife back in Greece, who died before he could send any money to her. He is determined to make a living in America and his brother and parents have joined him, running a restaurant that feeds the Greek miners. Alex is stoic. He doesn’t fight back against the discrimination or comment on it—he simply ignores it. As he regrows closer to God we see his emotions come out more.
Both Leanna and Alex are great characters who experience change throughout the book. However, they make a lot of assumptions about what the other person wants while trying to navigate the relationship and do not talk to each other enough! Both believe they don’t deserve a second chance at love and don’t want to harm the other person, but Leanna and Alex make this decision without informing each other—one of my pet peeves in romance. Let the person you love know how you feel and then allow them to make their own decision!
While I enjoyed the story, there were a few things I didn’t like. The ending felt rushed to me. I wanted a bit more conversation between Alex and Leanna, and wanted to see how the town reacted to their relationship. It played such a big part of why they wouldn’t take the chance of being together yet there was no resolution to that particular barricade to their romance.
I give this book 3/5 stars and can recommend it to readers looking for a book that carefully deals with racism, class discrimination, and has a strong message of what God is able to do in our lives if we only trust in him.
**I received a complimentary copy of this book from the author through CelebrateLit. All opinions are my own.**
About the Author
Guest Post from Angie Dicken
My Publishing Story: A Journey of Perfect Timing
“Wait for the LORD;
Be strong and let your heart take courage;
Yes, wait for the LORD.” Psalm 27:14
I wrote a story five years ago. My footing was finally solid on how to write, after a couple ACFW conferences and connecting with my bestie writing sister, Ashley. So in 2012, I poured my heart out within the parameters of what I’d learned.
The story I wrote stemmed from my heritage. From a very young age, I’ve been inspired by my grandfather. He was the son of a Greek coal miner who came over from Greece in the 1910’s. My grandfather always had wonderful stories to tell–he stirred up my intrigue for WWII era as he was a Purple Heart recipient (twice), and spoke of freeing concentration camps and invading Hitler’s homes; my grandfather lived a rags to riches legacy, having been born in a tent in a coal town, and then becoming a successful home and commercial builder–I declared I’d be an architect at age eleven…even majoring in Landscape Architecture in college.
So, at ACFW 2012, I took my novel to conference with more confidence than I had before. This story caught the attention of an agent– and I signed a contract with the Steve Laube Agency in November of that year. That was amazing…I chuckle now because the name of the room that I interviewed with Tamela was the “McKee” room–the last name of my heroine. A sign? Maybe. When she sent my story out for all publishers to see that next month, I thought my time for that book was just around the corner.
Now it’s 2017, and that story is under contract with a publisher as of Fall 2016.
What timing, right?
Why the heck did it take so long? Not for lack of trying. My agent and I took every possible measure.
Why did I get rejection after rejection, and write two other books in the wait?
What happened between then?
Only in looking back, do I see why I had to wait for this book. And when I look back, I realize just how much Timing is His and there’s nothing I can do to speed it up or make it mine. All I can do is take courage, and wait.
I’ll give you a quick recap of what happened between 2013–when the book was put in the proverbial drawer of unwanted manuscripts–and now, 2017, the year it will get published (um, after a few rewrites and edits–always learning…).
In looking back, this is what I see:
My Community was Built. I fell in love with my writer friendships. A bit dramatic? Maybe, but it’s the truth. I connected with ladies who knew my heart as a writer, and allowed me into their lives in an authentic, Christ-loving way. I found hope in the writing journey because my friends held my hands and rubbed my back when all seemed lost. And in this, I grew not as a writer, but as a heart. My heart became soft for the needs of others and the value of authenticity in this short, precious life.
I wanted it so badly that I turned ugly when it seemed to slip through my fingers with every rejection. And I spiraled and I came up for air to those authentic friendships speaking Truth in love. God knew what He was doing when He built my community, and He knew He would use it to lift me up and tear down my ugly.
There are several other moments and signs that I see as I look back, but I’m not going for the longest blog post of 2017, but I do want to share two sweet confirmations that the timing really is His.
I had secretly told those closest to me, that it would’ve been nice for it to come out in September instead…just because that’s when the book opens–September, 1893–the historical date of the Land Run.
So, what happens after I turn in my complete book a few days before its deadline? My editor tells me they bumped up my date to September of 2017. And I am sure, for them, it had nothing to do with the history, but for me, it was everything to do with the history–and His timing. Look for my debut novel, The Outlaw’s Second Chance this September!
My second contract came in! And this was a wonderful surprise. My agent and I had found out last spring that a new series was being launched based on geographical places around the U.S. I immediately thought of my Coal country story. So, I put together a proposal for a book I’d written long ago…and got a contract with Barbour this Fall for my novel, My Heart Belongs in Castle Gate, Utah.
But, the timing? November 2017 is my release.
God’s Timing in its finest…The book comes out during the centennial year of my grandfather’s birth. He was born in Dec. 1917 in Carbon County, Utah. My hero and my inspiration for this very book.
I just can’t stop smiling at the chance to honor my late grandfather with a story written by his third generation Greek American granddaughter who was inspired by his roots grown a century ago.
If only he could be here now. But I know he’s smiling, too.
It took a CENTURY.
Only by God’s grace, and His perfect timing.
A Baker’s Perspective, October 31
Faithfully Bookish, October 31
Caffeinated Reads, October 31
Captive Dreams Window, November 1
Reading Is My SuperPower, November 1
A Greater Yes, November 2
Janices book reviews, November 2
Daysong Reflections, November 2
Red Headed Book Lady, November 3
Books, Books, and More Books., November 3
Just the Write Escape, November 3
Carpe Diem, November 4
Christian Bookaholic, November 4
Radiant Light, November 5
History, Mystery & Faith, November 5
Chas Ray’s Book Nerd Corner, November 6
Texas Book-aholic, November 6
Babs Book Bistro, November 7
Kristin’s Book Reviews, November 7
Singing Librarian Books, November 8
Connie’s History Classroom, November 8
D’S QUILTS & BOOKS, November 9
J.E. Grace Christian Author Blog, November 9
Neverending Stories, November 9
Have A Wonderful Day, November 10
Pause for Tales, November 10
Tell Tale Book Reviews, November 11
Mary Hake, November 11
Splashes of Joy, November 11
Bigreadersite, November 12
Blossoms and Blessings, November 12
Debbie’s Dusty Deliberations, November 12
Vicky Sluiter, November 13
Bibliophile Reviews, November 13
To celebrate her tour, Angie is giving away a $25 Amazon gift card and a copy of her book The Outlaw’s Second Chance!!
Click below to enter.
Be sure to comment on this post before you enter to claim 9 extra entries!
Writer/Editor. Voracious Book Reader. World Traveler. Veteran. Bakery Owner.