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Skip Rock Shallows

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Skip Rock Shallows by Jan Watson

Reviewed by Julia Reffner

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"...a light, character-driven romance for lovers of small-town historicals."

Skip Rock, Kentucky is a setting I grew to love.

The beautiful coal-town is reminiscent of Cutter Gap, the town where Catherine Marshall’s Christy takes place.

Lily Gray Corbett is a recent medical school graduate at the turn of the twentieth-century, a time where women’s place is viewed as being in the home. Her fiancé, Paul, is also training to be a physician. He doesn’t understand why Lily is drawn to the “backwoods” town of Skip Rock and wishes she would just settle down to plan a society wedding with his mother in Boston and join him in practice.

I think fans of the Mitford series by Jan Karon will find a lot to like in Watson’s Copper Brown series. Without reading the first two installments I was able to easily follow along in the characters’ adventures. While some might find the slow pace of the book a detractor, it would make a great relaxing summer read.

At the heart of Skip Rock Shallows is a romance between Lilly and a “mysterious” mine worker who steals her heart. I found this part of the book caused me to suspend some disbelief. The characters were not as well acquainted as I would have liked. Though I love the fact that the two shared a childhood connection, I would have liked to have overheard more conversation between the two characters, a romance is based on so much more than a “spark.”

Ned and Armina are easily my favorite characters in the book and I delighted to see them as a subplot in the novel. The reader comes to connect with Ned very closely throughout the novel, though he is not a narrator and at times I even wished to see him connect with Lilly romantically.

Spiritual issues are gently threaded through the novel. When Lilly is confronted with fear about her past, Psalm 23 comes to mind. I love the fact that she recites Scripture when she is facing various situations. What a great and yet subtle reminder of the power of God’s word to keep us from sin and focus our eyes on His glory.

Overall, Skip Rock Shallows is a light, character-driven romance for lovers of small-town historicals.


Julia ReffnerJulia M. Reffner is blessed to be a servant to the King, married to the love of her life, a busy homeschool mom of two young children, and owned by one shedding longhaired cat. She is enjoying working on a women’s fiction novel in her spare time. She is a reviewer for Historical Novels Review quarterly, a magazine of the Historical Novel Society. Julia can be found blogging about God, literature and life at Dark Glass Ponderings and about writing at the group blog, The Writer's Alley.