Way back in March for my birthday, my best friend mailed me A Rush of Wings by Kristen Heitzmann. We’ve passed books back and forth for about two decades now, so I was curious to start reading and find out why she’d chosen it. However, the book joined others in my review pile and I only recently managed to actually pick it up and start reading. And when I did, I was hooked with the first chapter.
Noelle is running—from what, she doesn’t know; she’s just running. After several days of travel by bus, she lands in Colorado and finds lodging at a horse ranch run by Rick Spencer. Something about the horses, the mountains, the lodge offer a sense of calm to Noelle, and she settles in, trying not to remember anything of the terror that drove her here. The nightmares and fear continued, however, especially as Rick’s brother Morgan tries to win her affection. Noelle pushes him away, throwing herself into her painting and trying to convince Rick to let her ride his stallion.
Back in New York, Noelle’s father and fiance are looking for her. Each holds his own secret about why Noelle might have run… and each uses his own methods to attempt to find her.
When winter comes and Rick shuts his ranch down for the season, Noelle tries to make her own way in town. However, her art isn’t enough to support herself yet. She’s on the verge of starvation and pneumonia when Rick arrives and takes her back to the ranch. As their relationship begins to blossom, Noelle continues to hide from her past… until the past shows up to confront her.
A Rush of Wings was, yes, a page-turning novel, yet it was more than just the suspense that kept me coming back to the book as often as I could. The characters in this story, from Noelle to her father and Rick to his housekeeper, were gripping and interesting. Heitzmann has a gift for character insight, for painting two men as different as Rick and Morgan, for compelling conversations. I enjoyed each twist of the novel that revealed more about the characters, from meeting the rest of the Spencer family to finding out more about Noelle’s childhood.
Another thing I really enjoyed about the novel was the theme of faith. Growing up as a Christian, and studying Christianity as I have in various ways from grade school to university, I’ve never really questioned what I believe. It was fascinating to me to read Noelle’s perspective as someone raised in an agnostic household. Rick’s deep faith is just as well written as Noelle’s unbelief. As a Catholic, I also enjoyed seeing the Church portrayed in a positive light in fiction; Rick is said to have considered the priesthood and at the end of the novel, Noelle learns more about her mother’s faith and finds healing with the help of a priest. (I don’t want to give any spoilers, but I will say I believe in the power of baptism!)
Oh, and another favourite scene of mine was when Noelle burns herself trying to help in the kitchen:
[Rick] pulled a knife from his pocket and at first she thought he meant to lance the burn. But he sliced off a pointed succulent spear from the plant on the windowsill. He slit it open and laid it on her palm. The gel inside felt cool and sticky and amazingly, eased the pain. She eyed the leaf darkening slightly on her palm. “What is it?” “Aloe.”
That’s exactly what I would have done (and have done!). I love my aloe plants. But I digress…
Kristen Heitzmann grew up in Colorado, riding horses, playing cowboys and Indians, and taking violin lessons. She left college to marry her husband and homeschooled her four children. Now she has two grandchildren. Heitzmann is the author of fifteen novels, including two other books about Morgan Spencer. She says, “Being a writer is a solitary, eccentric, and often compulsive path that I wouldn’t trade for anything.”
A Rush of Wings gets a five-star review from me. If you’re looking for a good book to read this Christmas (or give to a friend), may I recommend this one.
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