Out of control is the first in The Kincaid brides series. That title says right off that this is a romance. It is also published by Christian publisher Bethany House, so I knew before I started to expect a faith-based narrative. And it was, but not in a preachy, overdone way. The characters were believable as they encouraged one another. The complexities of the family relationships and friendships were pretty good, realistic in portraying misunderstandings and abusive families without actually including the swear words.
The opening takes us into a fictional cave system based on Carlsbad Caverns, where Rafe Kincaid rescues Julia when someone pulls up the rope she had used. She is hysterical and traumatized by someone who spooked her in the cave, causing her to run, drop her light, and hit her head. Finally she starts screaming, and Rafe, who for his own reasons had visited the cave that evening, has to face his own fears of the cave himself to calm her. This book's cave experiences don't hold a candle (pun intended) to Nevada Barr's Blind descent, but they still have a pretty good creepiness factor, especially with the mysterious stranger who attacked Julia.
When Rafe gets back to his house with Julia, he finds his brother Ethan has returned after many years. The brothers begin bickering immediately, and it really gets tense when Ethan turns his focus on Julia. When Rafe returns Julia to her home, he discovers the falling-down abandoned house she is living in with her very young, pregnant, stepmom, Audra, and tiny sister Maggie. Her dad, Wendell Gilliland, is known to Rafe as John Gill, quarrelsome local saloonkeeper. Gilliland has been hiding the women here, five miles outside of town, visiting them only on Sundays, and leaving Julia to deal with all the heavy chores of firewood, hauling water, and laundry while Audra tries to help as much as she can during a difficult pregnancy. The post-Civil War setting is a minor part of the background, but will probably become more important in the later books. This somewhat predictable series is recommended to fans of Tracie Peterson or Debbie Macomber.
~Tessa Eger 3 out of 5 stars