Although I had read the first two books in the At Home in Beldon Grove series, I found that The Dawn of a Dream quite easily stands alone. Returning characters are only incidental to the story and it is not necessary to know their history to understand and enjoy this book.
This tale begins with a bang and continues with one surprise after another. This is definitely not your typical historical romance novel. In fact, romance almost takes the background against the trials encountered by Luellen’s determination to earn her teaching degree no matter what. Throughout most of the book, her brother’s friend Ward is a constant and sympathetic support to Luellen as she struggles to hold her head up in society after her disgrace. It is only later that she realizes how important he really is to her but sees no way to overcome the obstacles between them. Although Luellen is the primary focus of this story, a secondary romance is sure to delight the reader.
The historical setting and details of The Dawn of a Dream added a rich backdrop to an already intriguing storyline. Characters were well thought out and dialogue was natural. I thoroughly enjoyed the book and would recommend any and all of Ann Shorey’s novels to historical fiction fans.
This book was provided for review by
Revell, a division of Baker Publishing Group.
Available April 2011 at your favorite bookseller from Revell, a division of Baker Publishing Group.
ABOUT THE BOOK:
One Woman – Fiercely Independent, A Loyal Friend, and Determined to Finish.
“Once you get your teeth in something you don’t let go, do you?” he said. “No sir, I don’t.” She kept her voice steady. “I plan to attend classes and participate at the Model School, with your permission.”
The Dawn of a Dream (ISBN: 978-0-8007-3334-6, April 2011, $14.99) introduces readers to the third book in Author Ann Shorey’s At Home In Beldon Grove series. Set in 1857, this story comes alive when newlywed Luellen O’Connell’s husband of just one month tells her he is leaving – and his reason leaves her completely astonished.
Determined to follow the dreams of her youth, Luellen sets out to obtain her teaching degree. But her wayward husband left something behind when he abandoned her. Can she overcome the odds and achieve her dream? Can she hide her secret, or will it crush her dreams? This is a story of one woman fighting against all odds but finding friends along the way who make the journey bearable.
Readers will journey with Luellen in this spellbinding story of a woman’s struggle to survive and make her dream come true in The Dawn of a Dream.
ABOUT THE AUTHOR:
Ann Shorey is the author of The Edge of Light and The Promise of Morning. She has also published selections in the Cup of Comfort series and in Chicken Soup for the Grandma’s Soul. Shorey lives with her husband, Richard, in Oregon.
Not until her own children were well into middle school did Bev seek to publish her work, first in magazines such as Highlights for Children, Dolphin Log, and Guideposts for Kids. Her first book followed in 1993—Mountain Bikes and Garbanzo Beans—presently retitled Big Bad Beans (book #22 in the popular CUL-DE-SAC KIDS series of chapter books—see list of Bev’s children’s books).
Beverly’s first venture into adult fiction is the best-selling trilogy, THE HERITAGE OF LANCASTER COUNTY, including The Shunning, a suspenseful saga of Katie Lapp, a young Amish woman drawn to the modern world by secrets from her past. The book is loosely based on the author’s maternal grandmother, Ada Ranck Buchwalter, who left her Old Order Mennonite upbringing to marry a Bible College student. One Amish-country newspaper claimed Beverly’s work to be “a primer on Lancaster County folklore” and offers “an insider’s view of Amish life.”
Booksellers across the country, and around the world, have spread the word of Bev’s tender tales of Plain country life. A clerk in a Virginia bookstore wrote, “Beverly’s books have a compelling freshness and spark. You just don’t run across writing like that every day. I hope she’ll keep writing stories about the Plain people for a long, long time.”
A member of the National League of American Pen Women, as well as a Distinguished Alumnus of Evangel University, Lewis has written over 80 books for children, youth, and adults, many of them award-winning. She and her husband, David, make their home in Colorado, where they enjoy hiking, biking, and playing with their three grandchildren. They are also avid musicians and fiction “book worms.”
ABOUT THE BOOK:
Rose Kauffman is engaged to Silas Good, a well-liked Amish fellow, so why does she still pine for Nick Franco, the former foster son of the bishop? Especially now that Nick has left the Amish community under a cloud of suspicion after the death of the bishop’s biological son? Will Rose marry Silas, even while struggling with romantic feelings for Nick? Meanwhile, Rose’s older sister, Hen, has returned to live at her parents’ farm with her young daughter. Hen and her modern husband, Brandon, are separated by mutual agreement, although he is threatening to sue for custody of their daughter if Hen does not return soon. Will the judge rule in Brandon’s favor? Is there any way Hen can reestablish her place among the People without sacrificing her marriage?
The Judgment is a good example of why Beverly Lewis reigns as the “queen” of Amish fiction. This novel is complete with plenty of drama and conflict, a bit of mystery, a touch of romance, highly emotional situations and a lot of faith. Told primarily from an Amish viewpoint, several separate stories are interwoven. Characters are well rounded and dialogue is fairly natural. The second installment of The Rose Trilogy, The Judgment continues the story of Hen and her non-Amish husband’s separation.Younger sister Rose is now engaged to Silas but continues to miss Nick. At the same time she has to wonder what is actually going on between Silas and Rebekah who has recently returned to the community. Other characters from The Thorn also make their appearance here.
Although Hen’s actions tended to frustrate me, I understood her to a degree. I have known people who could not function well except within a strong legalistic system. I do hope that circumstances that occurred near the end of the book (won’t give it away – read for yourself) will help Brandon understand Hen a little better and that Hen will realize that her marriage is worth a little compromise to save. I only hope that we won’t see Brandon become Amish in the final book – that just would not be very believable.
Beverly Lewis is also a master at writing cliffhangers. Perhaps that is why her series sell so well. She leaves her readers anxious to learn what happens next. I know I want to know and will definitely be waiting for The Mercy to be released in September.
Neta Jackson is the author of the popular novel series, *The Yada Yada Prayer Group*, and a spin-off series called *The Yada Yada House of Hope.* These novels were inspired by a real women’s Bible study and prayer group that, as Neta says, “God has used to turn my life upside down and rightside up.” Neta and her husband, Dave, are also an award-winning writing team, best known for the Trailblazer books–a forty-book series of historical fiction for young people about great Christian heroes (see www.trailblazerbooks.com). The Jacksons are members of a multi-cultural church in the Chicago area, and the parents of three grown children, including a Cambodian foster daughter, all with families of their own.
ABOUT THE BOOK:
In Jackson’s fourth Yada Yada House of Hope Christian evangelical novel, Gabby Fairbanks is now settled in her new apartment at the House of Hope. But she is being pulled in several directions at once and has some hard decisions to make.
Philip, her estranged husband, is in a lot of trouble with a rogue cop from whom he borrowed money and also with his partner at the commercial development firm after he takes company money to cover his gambling losses. Lee Boyer, the Legal Aid lawyer who has become a friend to Gabby, now wants to be more. Gabby must decide whether to give Philip another chance, as their sons, Paul and PJ, hope, and she turns to the folks at Manna House, where she works, and the Yada Yada Prayer Group to help her discern God’s plan for her.
It is time for a FIRST Wild Card Tour book review! If you wish to join the FIRST blog alliance, just click the button. We are a group of reviewers who tour Christian books. A Wild Card post includes a brief bio of the author and a full chapter from each book toured. The reason it is called a FIRST Wild Card Tour is that you never know if the book will be fiction, non~fiction, for young, or for old…or for somewhere in between! Enjoy your free peek into the book!
You never know when I might play a wild card on you!
***Special thanks to Cindy Brovsky of Random House Inc. for sending me a review copy.***
ABOUT THE AUTHOR:
Liz Curtis Higgs is the author of 28 books with three million copies in print, including: her best-selling historical novels, Here Burns My Candle, Thorn in My Heart, Fair Is the Rose, Christy Award-winner Whence Came a Prince, Grace in Thine Eyes, a Christy Award finalist, and Here Burns My Candle, a RT Book Reviews Award finalist; My Heart’s in the Lowlands: Ten Days in Bonny Scotland, an armchair travel guide to Galloway; and her contemporary novels, Mixed Signals, a Rita Award finalist, and Bookends, a Christy Award finalist.
Visit the author’s website. You’ll also find her on Facebook and Twitter.
SHORT BOOK DESCRIPTION:
The emotional and spiritual journey that began with Here Burns My Candle (WaterBrook Press, 2010) soars to a triumphant finish in Mine Is the Night (WaterBrook Press, March 15, 2011) a dramatic and decidedly Scottish retelling of the biblical love story of Boaz and Ruth. A compelling tale of redemption and restoration, the latest novel from best-selling author Liz Curtis Higgs transports both story and reader to 18th century Scotland, where two widows are forced to begin anew.
List Price: $14.99
Paperback: 464 pages
Publisher: WaterBrook Press (March 15, 2011)
AND NOW…THE FIRST CHAPTER:
Foul whisperings are abroad.
26 April 1746
The distant hoofbeats were growing louder.
Elisabeth Kerr quickly pushed aside the curtain and leaned out the carriage window. A cool spring rain, borne on a blustery wind, stung her cheeks. She could not see the riders on horseback, hidden by the steep hill behind her. But she could hear them galloping hard, closing the gap.
Her mother-in-law seemed unconcerned, her attention drawn to the puddle forming at their feet. A frown creased her brow. “Do you mean for us to arrive in Selkirk even more disheveled than we already are?” Three long days of being jostled about in a cramped and dirty coach had left Marjory Kerr in a mood as foul as the weather.
“’Tis not the rain that concerns me.” Elisabeth resumed her seat, feeling a bit unsteady. “No ordinary traveling party would ride with such haste.”
Marjory’s breath caught. “Surely you do not think—”
Had they not heard the rumors at every inn and coaching halt? King George’s men were scouring the countryside for anyone who’d aided bonny Prince Charlie in his disastrous bid to reclaim the British throne for the long-deposed Stuarts. Each whispered account was worse than the last. Wounded rebel soldiers clubbed to death. Houses burned with entire families inside. Wives and daughters ravished by British dragoons.
Help us, Lord. Please. Elisabeth slipped her arm round her mother-in-law’s shoulders as she heard the riders crest the hill and bear down on them.
“We were almost home,” Marjory fretted.
“The Lord will rescue us,” Elisabeth said firmly, and then they were overtaken. A male voice cut through the rain-soaked air, and the carriage jarred to a halt.
Mr. Dewar, their round-bellied coachman, dropped from his perch and landed by the window with a grunt. He rocked back on his heels until he found his balance, then yanked open the carriage door without ceremony. “Beg yer pardon, leddies. The captain here would have a wird with ye.”
Marjory’s temper flared. “He cannot expect us to stand in the rain.”
“On the contrary, madam.” A British dragoon dismounted and rolled into view like a loaded cannon. His shoulders were broad, his legs short, his neck invisible. “I insist upon it. At once, if you please.”
With a silent prayer for strength, Elisabeth gathered her hoops and maneuvered through the narrow carriage doorway. She was grateful for Mr. Dewar’s hand as she stepped down, trying not to drag her skirts through the mud. Despite the evening gloom, her eyes traced the outline of a hillside town not far south. Almost home.
The captain, whom Elisabeth guessed to be about five-and-forty years, watched in stony silence as Marjory disembarked. His scarlet coat was drenched, his cuffed, black boots were covered with filth, and the soggy brim of his cocked hat bore a noticeable wave.
He was also shorter than Elisabeth had first imagined. When she lifted her head, making the most of her long neck, she was fully two inches taller than he. Some days she bemoaned her height but not this day.
By the time Marjory joined her on the roadside, a half-dozen uniformed men had crowded round. Broadswords hung at their sides, yet their scowls were far more menacing.
“Come now,” Mr. Dewar said gruffly. “Ye’ve nae need to frighten my passengers. State yer business, and be done with it. We’ve little daylight left and less than a mile to travel.”
“Selkirk is your destination?” The captain seemed disappointed. “Not many Highland rebels to be found there.”
“’Tis a royal burgh,” Marjory told him, her irritation showing. “Our townsfolk have been loyal to the crown for centuries.”
Elisabeth shot her a guarded look. Have a care, dear Marjory.
The captain ignored her mother-in-law’s comments, all the while studying their plain black gowns, a curious light in his eyes. “In mourning, are we? For husbands, I’ll wager.” He took a brazen step toward Elisabeth, standing entirely too close. “Tell me, lass. Did your men give their lives in service to King George? At Falkirk perhaps? Or Culloden?”
She could not risk a lie. Yet she could not speak the truth.
Please, Lord, give me the right words.
Elisabeth took a long, slow breath, then spoke from her heart. “Our brave men died at Falkirk honoring the King who has no equal.”
He cocked one eyebrow. “Did they now?”
“Aye.” She met the captain’s gaze without flinching, well aware of which sovereign she had in mind. I am God, and there is none like me. She’d not lied. Nor had the dragoon grasped the truth behind her words: by divine right the crown belonged to Prince Charlie.
“No one compares to His Royal Highness, King George,” he said expansively. “Though I am sorry for your loss. No doubt your men died heroes.”
Elisabeth merely nodded, praying he’d not ask their names. A list of royalist soldiers killed at Falkirk had circulated round Edinburgh for weeks. The captain might recall that Lord Donald and Andrew Kerr were not named among the British casualties. Instead, her handsome husband and his younger brother were counted among the fallen rebels on that stormy January evening.
My sweet Donald. However grievous his sins, however much he’d wounded her, she’d loved him once and mourned him still.
Her courage bolstered by the thought of Donald in his dark blue uniform, Elisabeth squared her shoulders and ignored the rain sluicing down her neck. “My mother-in-law and I are eager to resume our journey. If we are done here—”
“We are not.” Still lingering too near, the captain inclined his head, measuring her. “A shame your husband left such a bonny widow. Though if you fancy another soldier in your bed, one of my men will gladly oblige—”
“Sir!” Marjory protested. “How dare you address a lady in so coarse a manner.”
His dragoons quickly closed ranks. “A lady?” one of them grumbled. “She sounds more like a Highlander to my ear.”
The captain’s expression darkened. “Aye, so she does.” Without warning he grasped the belled cuff of Elisabeth’s sleeve and turned back the fabric. “Where is it, lass? Where is your silk Jacobite rose?”
“You’ve no need to look.” Elisabeth tried to wrest free of him. “I haven’t one.”
Ignoring her objections, he roughly examined the other cuff, nearly tearing apart the seam. “The white rose of Scotland was Prince Charlie’s favorite, was it not? I’ve plucked them off many a Highland rebel.”
“I imagine you have.” Elisabeth freed her sleeve from his grasp. “Are you quite satisfied?”
“Far from it, lass.” The captain eyed the neckline of her gown, his mouth twisting into an ugly sneer. “It seems your flower is well hidden. Nevertheless, I mean to have it.”
I was a bit apprehensive when I first saw the size of Mine is the Night. With a growing list of books I had committed to review, I wasn’t sure I had time to read such a thick novel. Fortunately, this was one story that not only held my attention but was so well written that it moved right along at a good pace. Although I haven’t read Here Burns My Candle, I had no difficultly following its sequel.
Character development was superb – from the gruff but softhearted pastor to the compassionate and generous Lord Jack Buchanan. The historical setting and customs added depth and interest to the narrative. But what most impressed me was the way the three women clung to their faith, convinced the Lord would take care of them despite their dire circumstances. What an inspiration to see their faith rewarded as it was.
Although Mine is the Night is a retelling of the biblical Ruth and Naomi story set in 18th century Scotland, the tale is fresh with unique twists that kept me engaged. I would definitely recommend this book, especially to those who love historical fiction about this era.
A word from the author:I grew up close to the eastern Ohio Amish community of Geauga County, where my parents often took me to farmers’ markets and woodworking fairs. My husband and I now live within the largest population of Amish in the country–a four-county area in central Ohio. We love to take weekend getaways to purchase farm produce and other goodies, stay with Amish families in bed and breakfasts, attend country auctions and enjoy the simpler way of life.
This is my first series of novels set in the Amish community.
I would love to hear from readers of Christian novels. Please leave me a post at my blogsite.
ABOUT THE BOOK:
As an Amish midwife, Abigail Graber loves bringing babies into the world. But when a difficult delivery takes a devastating turn, Abigail is faced with some hard choices. Despite her best efforts, the young mother dies—but the baby is saved.
When a heartless judge confines Abigail to the county jail for her mistakes, her sister Catherine comes to care for her children while Daniel works his fields. Catherine meets Daniel’s reclusive cousin, Isaiah, who’s deaf and thought to be simple minded by his community. She endeavors to teach him to communicate and discovers he possesses unexpected gifts and talents.
While Abigail searches for forgiveness, Catherine changes lives and, in return, finds love, something long elusive in her life. And Isaiah discovers God, who cares nothing about our handicaps or limitations in His sustaining love.
An inspirational tale of overcoming grief, maintaining faith, and finding hope in an ever-changing world.
Abigail’s New Hope is another refreshing addition to the popular “bonnet” fiction category. This new release by Mary Ellis features Abigail Graber, an Amish midwife who is jailed after the death of a patient. Also highlighted are members of Abigail’s family as they struggle to cope without her and Nathan Fisher who must learn to care for his new motherless son.
Although Abigail is supposed to be the focus of this novel, I thought that the subplot involving her sister Catherine and Isaiah pretty much stole the show. Catherine’s sensitivity and understanding that Isaiah’s deafness was not a mental handicap paved the way for a unique romance. The interaction between Catherine, Isaiah, and Abigail’s children was charming.
Lest I forget Abigail, I did admire the way she relied on God throughout her imprisonment and instead of feeling sorry for herself, she reached out to her cellmate who was attracted to her calm faith. Abigail’s New Hope was a satisfying read and I will definitely be watching for the next installment of Mary Ellis’ Wayne County Series.