Author John J. Dwyer's Civil War-era historical novels "Stonewall" and "Robert E. Lee" have sold tens of thousands of copies. They have built for him a large following of readers appreciative of his poignant, gritty, often inspiring style. With "When the Bluebonnets Come," Dwyer--a college history instructor--turns his focus to contemporary times. "Bluebonnets" tells the story of young Katie Shanahan, growing up in the heart of bluebonnet country near Cotton Patch, Texas, her life mainly about gentle animals, sweeping vistas of fragrant wildflowers, salt-of-the-earth people of the land, and a loving daddy who is a preacher and was a football hero. But what her father Ethan finds when he trails a rabid dog is the beginning of the end of life as Katie has known it. Soon, a parade of unwelcome visitors descend upon Cotton Patch-an increasingly ominous "Family Entertainment Complex," a series of church burnings, and finally, division within the Shanahans' own church and even their own home. As Katie watches her father stand up against forces far more powerful than himself, she begins to learn that courage, loyalty, and honor are more than words-and they sometimes come with a high price.
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Battle lines have been drawn in Cotton Patch, Texas between those who insist the economy comes first with nothing else mattering and those who feel religion and family values matter too. The outside contractors with state and local government approval plan to build a ¿family entertainment complex¿. Religious leaders like Pastor Ethan Shanahan claim ¿family¿ is a front for gambling and horse-racing. Ethan¿s home schooled (perhaps more accurate is farm-schooled) eight year old daughter Katie loves her daddy who is the best person in the world, but she does not understand why his sudden concern. Meanwhile an arson campaign to shut up opposition religious leaders begins with the burning of churches whose pastors oppose the complex. Avarice is the fuel of the fire as Ethan refuses to bend to the dictates of the affluent who see more wealth, but not at the cost on the townsfolk. Can one courageous soul prevent the inevitable abuse of power by those who yield it? Katie thinks so as that last brave person standing is her daddy. --- This fine inspirational tale contains a strong message that ¿to err is human to forgive is divine¿. The story is told thorough Katie¿s memory as she, now a mom, looks back over the decades to when she was a child and learned a key life lesson that God is there for everyone. The adult filter is a clever device that sifts the recollections making Katie the child seems much older than her years because Katie the mom tells the tale. --- Harriet Klausner