Title: Ante Up!
Author: Chautona Havig
Series: Aggie’s Inheritance, book 4
Major Themes: Motherhood, Faith
Synopsis: Aggie’s about to add her second child to their large family, but when disaster threatens to upset her carefully made plans can she turn it over to God—or will her faith fail her?
Whew! Ante Up! is certainly a different book compared to the first three in the Aggie’s Inheritance series! In the first three, Aggie was single, caring for her eight nieces and nephews, enjoying life as much as she could and relying on the Lord in the hard times. Now married, pregnant with her second child and still caring for her sister’s children which are now her own, Aggie is playing with a completely different set of marbles.
After an extended month away from home—two weeks on vacation and then another two weeks at Willow’s place while their home was fixed up after vandals broke in—she is more than ready to settle into a regular routine again. However, life seems to conspire against her with new traces of vandalism, dangers regarding the pregnancy, and Vannie and Laird’s struggles as they start to emerge into the adult world. Can Aggie keep her faith, even when all her dreams for her family seem to be crumbling around her? Will the songs and prayers that she is so well known for be enough to bolster her and their family through the dark days?
In some ways, Ante Up! was a difficult book to read. Having known and loved Aggie’s story before this book, it was quite a shock to me to see another side of Aggie—the side without the constant infusions of Jesus. While very realistic (don’t we all struggle with our faith sometime or another when things don’t work out as planned?), it was hard to see a once-vibrant Christian become a sad, angry shell. This story was just as good as the previous ones, only a little different in its tone. I also loved Vannie and Laird’s struggles with life as an adult—it was completely understandable, and definitely relatable, and the advice they received was good. Overall, this is a great book. I loved the theme that came out through the pages about our walk with the Lord, and found the ending quite enjoyable (although I can’t wait for Vannie’s story to be written!).
I have loved the Aggie’s Inheritance books since I first read them. They introduced me to a new author, whom I have come to love. When I had the chance to be an advance reader for the fourth book in the series, Ante Up!, I jumped at it. I was not disappointed.
In some ways, Ante Up! is my favorite of the series. Aggie has now been married for nearly four years, and she has been mothering her sister’s eight orphaned children for nearly five years. Her second pregnancy is nearing its end, and she has the perfect birth plan mapped out. However, God throws a few monkey wrenches into her plans, as He does to all of us at times. How will Aggie respond? Will she continue to lean on the Lord and trust Him for grace? Or will she snap and show her all-too-human side? As one thing after another goes wrong for her, the challenges to her faith grow harder and harder to handle. Christmas is coming and she doesn’t have anything ready.
Meanwhile, the children have their own challenges to face, besides helping Luke to take care of the house and the little children. Vannie and Laird are faced with young people of the opposite sex being attracted to them (I loved the advice Laird got from older men—it was right on). Tavish is suffering physically from a somewhat foolish action, and Ellie desperately wants to try science experiments. Ian and Ronnie egg each other on as they act like typical little boys, and neither Luke nor Aggie has time or energy to deal with them properly. As the home spirals into chaos, what will bring back the order that Aggie thrives on?
I loved the humor that was woven into the story. My favorite scene involved stitch witchery and a worried little girl (Mommy wouldn’t have used that!). I also loved the roll-baking scene. Poor Ellie wanted to crawl into a hole at the end (“My career as a scientist is over before it even began.”) If you enjoy reading about large families or mothers, you will enjoy this book. If you enjoy watching God work to refine His people, you will enjoy this story. You will be challenged to check out your relationships with others, especially your husband, and your faith in God. Once again, Chautona Havig has crafted a great story that makes you think.
I received a free copy of this book from the author in exchange for an honest review.
WARNING: This book talks a lot about motherhood, pregnancy and birth, so it may not be suitable for younger readers.
Reading Independently—Ages 15 and Above, Adults