Miracle in a Dry Season    Dangerous Passage

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For the Love of Dogs

by Suzanne Woods Fisher

Reviewed by April Gardner

"Apart from a compelling story, every novel needs an imperceptive tutorial, and author Ms. Fisher is always good for it."

A degenerative disease has robbed Samantha Christiansen of most of her vision, and it’s only a matter of time before the light and shadows are gone as well. Sam, however, is not one to let impaired vision slow her down. All business, she’s introducing America to the benefits of olive oil, and has become quite successful. Her groves of olive trees are thriving under the hand of her brother-in-law, and her twin sister’s creative edge in the kitchen is bringing nation wide attention to their family-grown company.

As her sight wanes, Sam is reluctant to admit that getting around is increasingly difficult. A near miss crossing the street leaves her on her backside with a stranger helping her to her feet. It’s an encounter that changes her life. First, the man, then the dog.

Jack Shaw is a guide dog trainer. He’s also the knight in shining armor that helps the blind woman to her feet and onto the bus. If only, she would see the hero in him. To Sam, Jack is just the “crazed bus guy”; the man that’s pressuring her to get a guide dog that she insists she doesn’t need; the man that one day will sell his land to her to advance her business; the man that puts a kink in her otherwise perfect day. Well, he won’t sell his land, but he’d be more than happy to be Sam’s personal guide dog trainer. And he’s got the perfect dog for her.

Sam is a take-charge, go-getter with little fear of challenges or obstacles. She’s also an embittered missionary kid that wants little to do with God. That being the case, He has to turn up the heat to get her attention.

Sam's sister Kathleen begins to suffer from severe depression. Nonna, her dear grandmother, seems to be losing her grasp on reality, and Jack is such a distraction that Sam’s life has nearly crumbled to pieces before she realizes that it’s even begun to crack. The snowball grows as it barrels down the mountain, and Samantha is helpless to stop it. But there is One who can, if only she will allow Him…

Once again, I feel compelled to rave about author Suzanne W. Fisher’s knack for developing a wonderful cast. Each character, down to the most “insignificant” is full of life and color. In the end, Sam, Jack, Kathleen, and even irritatingly troubled Lucy, are more than just names on a page. They’re my friends!

Character Samantha, uses her stronger senses to hear, feel, and smell her way through life, which adds richness and depth to the story. I also appreciated Samantha for her serious, no-nonsense personality. It was a refreshing angle for a leading role, and contrasted perfectly with easy going, take-life-as-it-comes Jack. Those two kept me chuckling. They’re perfect for each other, and watching them figure it out is quite the adventure!

For the Love of Dogs is set is 1960’s California. The 60’s is a period rarely seen in Christian fiction, and I would like to have experienced a bit more of it in the descriptions. I did, however, get an excellent feel for the sunny California coast.

Apart from a compelling story, every novel needs an imperceptive tutorial, and author Ms. Fisher is always good for it. Raising guide dog puppies herself, she has intimate knowledge of the ins and outs of owning one of these gentle guides. Her expertise shines through giving the reader a tiny taste of being be blind and leaving only gratitude to the Lord for the gift of sight.

Her portrayal of dementia and how it affects loved ones is, sadly, also from the author’s personal experience. This novel gave me a deeper respect for those who witness the devastation of Alzheimer’s, and also, of course, for the blind.

As if the quality of the story isn’t enough to compel you to purchase the book, the author is generously donating all royalties to Guide Dogs for the Blind.

To sum it up, this novel will motivate you to achieve your dreams despite the unpleasant odds. In the end, though, none of it is possible without strength from Above.

Ps. 46:1 God is our refuge and strength, a very present help in trouble.

April GardnerApril W Gardner writes adult and middle grade historical fiction. Her first novel, Wounded Spirits, releases with Vintage Romance Publishing in November of this year. She is a member of ACFW and reviews for Title Trakk, At Home With Christian Fiction, and FIRST Wild Card Blog Tours. A military spouse, April has performed the art of homemaking all over the world. Currently, she lives in Georgia with her darling Hubby. A homeschool mom, she fills her mornings talking fractions and phonics with her two sweet kiddos. In her free time, April enjoys reading, gardening, and DIY. In no particular order, she dreams of owning a horse, visiting all the national parks, and speaking Italian. Visit April's Website or her blog, A Writer's Journey. You can also get to know April on Facebook and Twitter.