Aiken’s She Shall be Praised
(FaithWords), a historical romance set in 1883, thrusts Emma Crowell, a
19-year-old socialite, into the rough world of sheep rustlers, ranchers, and
cabins in the woods. When the story opens, Emma has nothing to worry about
except which gown she’ll wear to the next fashionable Denver ball. With a
doting father, a new fiancé, and a lush future ahead of her, Emma leaves Denver
for her home in Portland, traveling across the rugged West in a carriage. When her
carriage is attacked, Emma winds up in the hands of two inept sheep rustlers.
Meanwhile, Peter Lowery, a rancher nearby in the Oregon wilderness, is trying
to track down his missing sheep. When he finds his flock, he also stumbles upon

takes Emma and the two rustlers back to his camp in the mountains where he
summers his flock. To Emma’s dismay, Peter explains that he can’t spare anyone
on the ranch to take her to the nearest city. Instead, she’ll have to wait out
the summer in the isolated camp, until Peter and his ranch hands move the flock
down the mountain for the fall and winter. Until then, Emma must start a new
life on the ranch, a life with cooking, cleaning, mistakes, and hard work. For
his part, Peter must wrestle with the memory of his late wife and figure out
how Emma fits into his life on the ranch. Amid the untamed wilds of the West,
Emma learns humility and determination. She learns who she really is. And she
learns to love.

characters are warm and believable. One unforgettable character is Peter’s
ranch manager, a silver-haired, squat woman named Colley. Clad in jeans,
flannel, and a straw hat, Colley works alongside the men in the day, cooks
their meals at dinnertime, and offers a refreshing portrait of a woman who
comfortably defies rigid gender stereotypes. When Emma arrives, she takes over
the cooking role from Colley. Over time, Emma looks up to Colley as a strong,
determined, pragmatic woman. And when Emma makes mistakes with the cooking,
Colley provides firm yet gentle corrections, always with a smile.

of Aiken’s success lies in her humor. Though characters may initially lack the
humility to laugh at themselves, readers will share Peter’s amusement when Emma
struggles with unfamiliar domestic tasks, or snicker when yet another young man
showers Emma with unwanted attention. Emma herself can be hilarious—when Peter starts
reading pointed scripture passages meant to reform her, she retaliates with her
own biblical attack, matching his gumption.

precise attention to detail makes this book an exciting dip into America’s
early days, filled with shimmering balls, elegant waltzes, lovely dresses—and
towering trees, and unlimited, wild Western landscapes, and gorgeous sunrises
over the mountains. Aiken seamlessly brings the two worlds together in a
dizzying and well-scripted clash.

Aiken triumphs with Emma’s extraordinary growth throughout
the novel. After tough lessons from Colley, Peter, and God, Emma recognizes her
own capability and potential. Emma’s story is not a simple romance, but a
journey of radical transformation and humility guided by God’s providential

book reviewing intern, Niki, is a third-year English major at Westmont College
in Santa Barbara, California. She’s a fan of reading, writing, drinking tea,
and cats.

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