I've read and enjoyed a couple of other books by Deeanne Gist: A Bride in the Bargain and A Bride Most Begrudging. With these two most recent reads by Gist, I really can't decide quite how I feel about them. I would say this time the Christian aspect of this Christian Historical Fiction novel is a bit more prominent, but once again, not overbearingly so. I can't quite put my finger on what it was that just quite didn't do it for me with these books compared to Gist's other books I've read. I tend to think that it is the stories themselves, more than anything. I actually greatly enjoyed Essie Spreckelmeyer as the heroine of both books. With Essie, there is never a dull moment and you never can be quite sure what she will do next. I liked that she wasn't some perfect beauty that could have any man she wanted, but that ultimately she got the only man she wanted, though not without some pitfalls and missteps along the way. Ultimately, I believe the most bothersome piece of the puzzle for me was the first book itself. I wish that both of these books could have been made into one and that some of the various plot lines had been removed. Clearly, by the end of the first book, I knew I was going to have to read the second so I could learn what would become of Essie. And really, I did enjoy the second book much better than the first, which left a bad taste in my mouth to some degree, though not so much that I didn't want to read the rest of Essie's story, apparently. Her independence and fiery personality really shine in Deep in the Heart of Trouble and add in an exciting climax, and you have a recipe for a much more gripping read.Gist works in great moments of humor and has an interesting cast of characters for both stories, though I think that Essie really came to life in the second book. I expect that most people will enjoy both stories, but I guess I was just really bothered by the way the first one turned out. Of course, I wasn't bothered enough to give these up altogether, so I suppose that says something.In the end, I'm not quite sure what this review has said -- perhaps it's just neutral, which is essentially how I felt about the two stories when you look at them together... If you pick up Courting Trouble, you are almost guaranteed to want to follow it with Deep in the Heart of Trouble, simply to find out what happens to Essie. I really can't recommend reading only Deep in the Heart of Trouble, because you do learn some key things about Essie in the first book that are important to the second. However, I'd be more inclined to just send you to Gist's other books first.