Distant Heart by Tracey Bateman

This week, the Christian Fiction Blog Alliance is introducing Distant Heart(Avon Inspire January 2, 2008) by Tracey Bateman


Tracey Bateman is the award-winning author of more than twenty-five books, including Defiant Heart, the First in the Westward Hearts series. She is a member of American Christian Fiction Writers (ACFW) and recently served on the board as President. She lives in Lebanon, Montana, with her husband and their four children.


Little House on the Prairie meets Francine river’s Redeeming Love in Tracey Bateman’s historical series, Westward Hearts.

This second installment follows Toni Rodden, a former prostitute who sought to escape her past and build a new life, and a new reputation, when she joined the wagon train. Despite much resentment and distrust from the other women, Toni has finally earned a place on the wagon train and found a surrogate family in Fannie Caldwell and her two siblings. For the first time in her life, Toni actually feels free.

But while Toni once harbored dreams that her new life might include a husband and family, she soon realizes the stigma that comes with her past is difficult to see beyond and that she’ll never be truly loved or seen as worthy. As the trip out west begins to teach her to survive on her own, she resolves to make her own living as a seamstress when the train finally reaches Oregon.

But despite Toni’s conviction that no man will be able to see beyond her marred past, Sam Two-feathers, the wagon scout and acting preacher for the train seems to know of a love that forgives sins and values much more than outward appearances. Will Sam have the confidence to declare his love? Will Toni be able to trust in a God that can forgive even the darkest past? Faith, love, and courage will be put to the test in Distant Heart.

My Review:

It won’t take long for those who hate Romance novels to figure out this one won’t be an exception. I’d say, oh, when it first becomes apparent to the reader Toni and Sam are already head over heels in, oh say, chapter one. Maybe two at latest.

On the romantic front, they’re not already engaged from page one because she assumes he wouldn’t want her because she was a prostitute before Christ found her, and he assumes she wouldn’t want him because his mother was a native American. If they were friends of mine, I’d have given them both a well-deserved shaking and Fannie nearly does just that. But of course, we would be both red-heads.

Still, Bateman delivers much more than this. There’s some intrigue with a local chief that wants Toni for his squaw, and a wagon train full up with folks I wanted to smack (or worse) for holding Toni’s past against her. Juicy stuff there.

Rivetting? I don’t know if that’s that’s the right word. Heart warming? That’s closer. In my view, this is, at heart, the old, old redemption story that never grows old in the telling. Just set on the Oregon Trail, which is a wee bit different than Pa Ingles packing up and moving his family out west without the protection of a wagon train. But more normative from all accounts of the times.

Really only one thing really got my goat: Ginger, but she seems to have that effect on people. At least in the novel. I doubt a ton of modern readers will be bothered by a woman going around in drag and behaving like a man. We seem to have lost something in that regards. Underneath that tough-as-any-man exterior is a terrified and hurting little girl, I can almost guarantee it, and I appreciate how the author seems to hint at just that.
In short, lovers of Romance novels will not be disappointed by Distant Heart, and probably will be eager for the next installment, which promises to reveal the truth about Ginger’s past, particularly in regards to why she hates a certain male member of the wagon train for no readily apparent reason.

For everyone else . . . just turn around, walk away slowly, and no one gets hurt.


  1. Your review cracked me up. You hit the nail right on the head. Thank goodness for lovers of romance and thank goodness for those despisers of romance who balance them out. LOL
    Tracey Bateman

  2. Author

    Thanks, Tracey. It certainly takes all kinds. I seem to have wider tastes than most of the crowd I hang out with at the Lost Genre Guild. Quite a few despisers there.

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