Saturday, December 22, 2012
To Whisper Her Name
Historical, Fiction, Romance
Publication Date: 10/23/12
Olivia Aberdeen, destitute widow of a murdered carpetbagger, gratefully accepts an invitation from "Aunt" Elizabeth Harding, mistress of Belle Meade Plantation and the dearest friend of Olivia's late mother. Expecting to be the Harding's housekeeper, Olivia is disillusioned once again when she learns the real reason why Elizabeth's husband, Confederate General William Giles Harding, agreed to her coming. Caring for an ill Aunt Elizabeth, Olivia is caught off guard by her feelings for Ridley Adam Cooper, a southern-born son who-unbeknownst to her and everyone else-fought for the Union.
Determined to learn "the gift" that Belle Meade's head horse trainer, Bob Green, possesses, Ridley is a man desperate to end the war still raging inside him while harboring secrets that threaten his life. As Ridley seeks to make peace within himself for "betraying" the South he loved, Olivia is determined to never be betrayed again...
Set within the remarkable history of Nashville's historic Belle Meade Plantation, comes a story about enslavement and freedom, arrogance and humility, and the power of love to heal even the deepest of wounds.
Tamera Alexander is one of my favorite authors and this book does not disappoint. Alexander writes with depth and wit. Her characters are real people with real issues and they are always a pleasure to get to know. She managed to bring the somewhat austere south down to earth while incorporating the very real issues of the day. Olivia grows throughout the book and becomes a dear character. Ridley is fun from the beginning and only growths in his depth. The horse aspect of the book is fascinating. I also thoroughly enjoyed the time period this was set in and getting a glimpse of the south post-war.
Props to Alexander for another great read that I didn't want to put down. Go buy it and prepare to be transported!
My thanks to Zondervan Publishing for providing me with a free copy of this book in exchange for my honest review.
Harvest House Publishers
Publication date: January 1, 2013
For fans of the hugely popular Downton Abbey series, comes this equally enthralling story of the Danforth family of Ashton Park.
Among the green hills and trees of Lancashire, only a few miles from the sea, lies the beautiful and ancient estate of Ashton Park.
The year is 1916. The First World War has engulfed Europe and Sir William's and Lady Elizabeth's three sons are all in uniform--and their four daughters are involved in various pursuits of the heart and soul.
As the head of a strong Church of England family for generations, Sir William insists the Danforth estate hold morning devotions that include both family and staff. However, he is also an MP and away at Westminster in London whenever Parliament is sitting. During his long absences, Lady Elizabeth discreetly spends time in the company of the head cook of the manor, Mrs. Longstaff, who is her best friend and confidante. This friendship includes visits to a small Baptist church in Liverpool that exposes Lady Elizabeth to a less formal approach to Christian worship and preaching than she is used to and which she comes to enjoy.
Readers will follow Ashton Park's charming upstairs/downstairs characters through the perils of war and the affairs of the heart with relish--and with an eye to the sequel coming in Fall 2013.
Alright I'll admit it, I'm a huge fan of Downton Abbey. Nothing to be ashamed about that other than I hate to be part of the status quo. I was reluctant to read this book because I feel like Downton Abbey "like" books are quickly becoming a new trend in fiction. Trend or not, status quo or not this was an excellent book. I very much enjoyed it. Pura does a wonderful job of weaving a tale.
I do have a couple of complaints. At times I felt as if the story too closely mirrored Downton Abbey and I would have liked to see a little more uniqueness. That's not to say there aren't completely new story lines, because there are. This is a long book that reads more like an epic novel than the start of a series. The Danforths have 7 children and at different times in the book we follow all 7 separate lives. It did get to be a bit much. I felt as if I needed to read with a notebook nearby to make notes so I wouldn't forget who was who.
In spite of my complaints I loved this book and found myself missing it when I was done reading. The characters are well developed (all 100 of them :)) and the story lines will completely hold your attention. Settle in with some tea and a blanket in a sunny spot and prepare to fully enter the world of the Danforths. You'll be delighted that you did.
My thanks to Harvest House Publishers for providing me with a free copy of this book in exchange for my honest review.
Christian, Romance, Mystery
Publication Date: December 1, 2012
Grad student Heather Conrad’s house-sitting venture is about to veer off course. When last minute changes leave Heather in charge of watching her former boss’s lakeside Victorian mansion and six-year-old daughter, Izzy, the surprises have just begun. Soon startling discoveries convince Heather that something just isn’t right around the house. As suspicions mount, Heather calls on security systems installer Ryan Tobin for help. . .then stumbles on a hidden stairway that leads headlong into a forgotten past. But what will Heather discover there that changes everything?
This book immediately caught and held my attention. Heather is an intriguing character that I personally could relate to. Her exploration of local coffee shops was fun to read about. Izzy is a delight and an extremely well written 6 year old. Ryan is a bit cheesy but as his story develops he grows on you. There is a bit of mystery throughout the story that I found very interesting. Who is taking pictures of Heather and Izzy? Why all the secrets in the old mansion? And just who is Ryan? While not startlingly amazing you'll enjoy this one, I promise!
My thanks to Barbour Publishing for providing me with a free copy of this book in exchange for my honest review.