For many years, one-time president of Romance Writers of America Robin Lee Hatcher wrote bestselling romance novels, including KISS ME, KATIE, about a young Idahoan fighting for a woman's right to vote. While Hatcher had accepted Christ in 1976, in the early 1990s she began to walk closer with Jesus, and she began reading inspirational fiction. She realized that she wanted to write novels that fit her new ideals and that some of her previous books could be tailored to fit her new writing model. Thus, her latest book, CATCHING KATIE, is her fifth "redeemed" one (Hatcher's term), an update of KISS ME, KATIE that incorporates a strong faith story into its romance.
Katie Jones is a graduate of Vassar College and has spent several years in Washington, D.C. lobbying on behalf of women's suffrage. She decides to move back home to Idaho, a state that had granted women suffrage in the late 19th century, in order to build momentum there --- and perhaps a platform for her own ambitions, although she's not completely aware of them as she rattles into the town of Homestead in her newfangled Model T Ford, nicknamed "Susan B" after Katie's hero.
What she is aware of is her burning desire to accomplish her goal of universal suffrage, and she doesn't consider what anyone else will think as she begins to do so. Her dear childhood friend, Ben Rafferty, is now the editor of the Homestead Herald, and Katie immediately "applies" to write a column about the subject closest to her heart. However, before she knows what's happening, that subject of her heart has changed --- it's become Ben. His former engagement broken off, it seems there's nothing to stand in the way of the childhood sweethearts getting married. In fact, they do (I won't spoil why, or how), but that doesn't solve the real dilemma for Katie, which is how to reconcile her feminist principles with marriage.
Hatcher tackles this subject head-on, by providing insight into the history of women's rights and by grounding Katie in a solid, no-nonsense pioneer Christian spirituality. Pioneer tradition had to acknowledge women as powerful and equal, because the work of building towns like Homestead couldn't have been done without them. It's small wonder that Idaho had early women's suffrage, and it's small wonder that Katie has no qualms about being seen as equal to men before marriage.
Of course, given the opinions of so many around her and given the culture of her era, Katie finds that once she and Ben are married in the eyes of God and man, she has a much more difficult time understanding herself. Fortunately, Hatcher helps the reader understand all sides of the issue, and grounds the conclusion in Scriptural as well as historical terms (for example, she demonstrates that many serious Christian women were also serious suffragettes; the movement was not filled with atheists and agnostics).
While Hatcher herself clearly believes that Christian marriage is about mutual submission and not about male dominance, she also clearly believes in the primacy of her relationship with Jesus Christ. Even readers who disagree with her views on men and women will find this tale of a bubbly young lady growing into womanhood a delightful and fresh take on the historical romance.
Reviewed by Bethanne Kelly Patrick on January 1, 2004