Luci Shaw: Refreshing Surprise

by Sandra Vander Shaaf

I’m going to allow my brother-in-law, a Manitoba rancher and cattle breeder, introduce poet Luci Shaw’s review of Passionate Embrace.

At a recent family gathering on the prairies, my brother-in-law plunked himself down in the lawn chair across from me, took a long sip of his beer and said, “I hear you’ve written a book.”  He’s not a very talkative guy—I’ve known him for four years and I believe this was the first time he’d started a conversation with me.  Being a bit startled, the only reply I could manage in the moment was, “Yes.”

“What’s it about?”

Never having pitched my book to a Charolais cattle breeder, I wasn’t sure what to say, so I just trotted out the short version of what I usually say, “It’s a story about how learning to dance Argentine Tango changed how I understand my body and God.”

His eyebrows momentarily disappeared under the visor of his baseball cap.  He took another sip of beer, smiled broadly, shook his head and said, “I don’t know what I was expecting, but I wasn’t expecting that.”

I’m not sure what Luci Shaw was expecting when she agreed to read my manuscript, but I love that she found Passionate Embrace to be a “refreshing surprise.”  This is what she wrote after reading the book in one sitting:


shaw“This is a sumptuous story, dramatic, literally an invitation to the dance.  It made me want to tango along with Sandra.  I read it straight through, drawn into it as she was when first invited to tango.  She daringly compares learning the dance with learning to pray; each is a movement of faith. That this new venture into physical intimacy was the means of grace that led her to greater spiritual intimacy with God is the refreshing surprise of this striking and moving account of renewal.”

Luci Shaw, author, Breath for the Bones, and Adventure of Ascent

To learn more about Luci Shaw and her work, go to

Originally published on, September 2013.

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