Alyce Benson is a young woman whose heart is on fire for God. She also loves automobiles and speed. The author combines these two elements to create a fascinating story world peopled with compelling characters, exciting plot twists and surprises until the very end.
When African missionaries visit her church, Alyce is so moved by their story and their photos of African children, she pledges $3,000 to the missionaries and challenges the church to match her.
There’s only one problem: she doesn’t have the money.
Her wealthy father refuses to give it to her because he is not Christian. She tries to raise the money through selling some of her jewelry and offering a taxi service in her small town. No one wants to ride with her. The money she does raise, she quickly gives away to hurting and needy people in her town.
Alyce learns her father is building a race car and she persuades the mechanic, Webster, to let her drive it in the race. She combines her love of speed with a chance to earn the money she pledged. Things start out well. She doesn’t win but she is paid just for driving. She entrusts the money to Webster for safekeeping.
Things begin to turn when one of her father’s most trusted employees, Lawrence, begins to show interest in her and she learns that Webster has dark secrets in the past he won’t talk about.
Disasters strike on multiple levels when Alyce’s money is stolen (she thinks by Webster), Lawrence’s true colors are revealed and Webster is accused of attacking Alyce. As she learns more about Lawrence, her trust in Webster is renewed.
She drives in one more race with Webster. A horrible accident means the loss of any opportunity she has to raise the money in time and Webster is severely injured. She recognizes her feelings for Webster.
She faces public humiliation when she must admit to the church that she failed to fulfill her pledge.
I will avoid any spoiler alerts from here on. It is well worth getting the book to read how masterfully the author weaves all her plot threads into a highly satisfactory ending.
Anne Mateer’s story is well-researched. She brings the American Midwest of 1919 to life with accurate and detailed settings from small town to big city and the growth of the automobile and the changes it was making. Her descriptions of the racing are spot on. She captures the people and the mores of the time, making them real.
Alyce Benson is an intriguing character, enthusiastic for God and for racing. Her naiveté is soon tempered by the hardships and challenges she faces. Her story arc is that of a young woman coming to spiritual and emotional maturity.
Webster grows on the reader as his personality is revealed through other characters. His secret past, his self-sacrifice and future dreams make him a captivating character.
Minor characters are also wonderfully drawn, especially Alyce’s grandmother who is her spiritual rock and mentor. Alyce’s new-found friend, Lucinda, is vital in helping Alyce to grow and mature, to see people around her.
I give this novel five stars.
A copy of the novel was provided by the publisher for this review.