tl;dr: amazing story about love, faith, and doing what’s right
This series so far has been one hundred percent my jam. It combines a real plot with hot and steamy romance, the characters well-developed and the conflict completely absorbing. All three of Adriana Anders’ books in her Blank Canvas series take place in Blackwood, West Virginia, a small town settled in the mountains. Anders weaves interesting stories around a small but growing cast of central characters. However, each book is completely stand-alone, and reading them out of order won’t ruin the enjoyment of the books at all. It’s fun to see characters you’ve seen before pop up again, but you never feel like you’re missing large chunks of the story if you haven’t read them all.
In His Hands is the story of Luc Stanek and Abby Merkley. Luc owns a vineyard that is adjacent to a plot of land inhabited by a strict orthodox protestant cult. Abby is concerned about the lack of medical attention for the children, in particular an adolescent boy named Sammy. He exhibits signs of epilepsy and also has Downs Syndrome (which is identified by other characters since medical care is not part of the cult’s ethos), and she wants to earn money to get him out of there and get the care he needs. She asks Luc for a job, and he isn’t too keen on the idea as he is escaping his own demons and wants to be left alone.
Abby is able to break him down, but soon realizes that with the cult breathing down his neck, the situation becomes hopelessly muddled. He cares about Abby, and not just because he’s besotted with her. She’s suffering abuse at the hands of the church leadership and he feels helpless. With the help of Sheriff Clay Navarro, whose story was in the previous book, they decide to find a way to help the children.
As always, Anders’ writing is amazing. The book weaves an incredible story of love and heroism, with the relationship between the hero and heroine growing both people to be stronger and better together. There would be lots of opportunity for damsels, but Abby is a very strong person, and is able to pull herself from the brink of death in order to get her life together. I loved her spunk and determination.
The only part of this book that made me a little sad was that it doesn’t appear that Clay and Dr Georgette (from book 2) were able to have that baby together. But as that doesn’t really impact the story told here, it in no way changes my rating or feelings on it.
I highly recommend the other books in the series, but if you like your love with a side of wine, check out Meg Cabot’s Queen of Babble, which takes place at a beautiful vineyard.