Author of Sweet Hope and Happy Endings

Tag: England

A Castaway in Cornwall: A Book Review

BOOK REVIEW

BOOK BY: Julie Klassen

Another long-awaited Julie Klassen tale at last!

As usual, Julie Klassen delivers a poignant regency that tells of love lost and the mystery that surrounds it.

Laura Callaway has lost everyone who loves her and struggles to find a place with a distant relative in Cornwall. She spends her days scouring the beaches for lost treasure she can return to the rightful owners, or to sell the unclaimed items. She assists her uncle who is a minister in recording the deaths of those washed up on shore from the shipwrecks that plague their small community.

Alexander Caraway is caught between a political shift in history, his loyalties lying with the crown of France though the throne has been stolen by Napoleon. A captain of a French military ship, he loses the battle and finds himself a prisoner of war and accused of crimes he has not committed. Caught in a storm, Alexander is one of two survivors to wash up on shore and the one Laura nurses back to health.

There is a whole slew of cast members that bring the story to life. Characters a reader can’t help but to love, hate and wish a better outcome for. Many characters have their own hardships which end satisfactorily, even some happily. It’s hard to pick a favourite secondary character from this bunch – so I won’t.

The connection between Laura and Alexander is seamlessly woven through the pages of this novel. A beautiful story of loving a neighbour – even when he or she is considered the enemy. It’s a story of overcoming the past, forgiveness and looking to God to provide.

And I have to admit, I’m thrilled to read a novel where the French guy gets the English gal (although I might be a biased when it comes to that).

In the beginning of the novel, I found there were quite a few spots with a lot of information – historical details that were significant to the time and geography but a bit jarring. It seemed quite out of the ordinary for a Julie Klassen novel. After about the third chapter the pertinent facts had been recalled and the story flowed from there.

I received a copy from the publisher through NetGalley. All opinions expressed are my own.

The Love Note

BOOK REVIEW

BOOK BY: Joanna Davidson Politano

This is a beautiful story of the power of our words – how they can either break relationships or build them up, and when they’ve broken one how they can begin building again.

There were so many wonderful things about this story that I feel I can’t do the novel justice by listing things in short order. You just have to read the novel yourself to appreciate the deeper meanings Joanna Davidson Politano weaves through the pages.

It’s a story about love, but not just romantic love. It’s about the love of our heavenly Father and how real it becomes when we surrender ourselves completely to His will. It’s a story of friendship – how there are friends that bring out the best in us and are the relationships worth pursuing. It’s a story of broken families – and how kindness can bring about healing. It’s a story of expectation – how we set ourselves up for disappointment in others when we expect the impossible from others. It’s a story of redemption – how it’s never too late to make amends for past offenses. It’s a story about finding the right marriage partner – how once you’ve found each other, to never let go.

Yes. That’s really what I took away from the novel.

The narrative is easy to follow and switches between third person and first person points of view. It isn’t jarring as some novels I’ve read are, so it was a nice surprise to read something that was an easy transition between the two. The reader is pulled into the setting with vivid descriptions and one could easily picture Crestwicke and the ruins where our heroine spends quiet moments contemplating life.

Willa Duvall is one of those heroines you just want to see have a happy ending, but what the author does with her story is quite unexpected. But at the end, the reader can’t help but to agree with how Willa’s story plays out.

Gabe Gresham is a silent, but strong hero. There wasn’t anything I didn’t like about him and I was happy for the conclusion of his story.

The characters are memorable and each have their own issue to work through. I like the story line of Golda. She’s such a strong secondary character who had been broken early in life and there’s a beautiful story arc that comes full circle at the end of the novel. I quite enjoyed the parallels between her story and the heroine, Willa Duvall.

This is an historical romance with quite a thread of intrigue. Willa discovers a love note hidden in her writing desk which sends her on a mission to return the note to the rightful owner, but when the note is misplaced in her new place of employ, the note creates a chain reaction of events that will upend the residents of Crestwicke Manor forever.

I received an ecopy from the publisher through NetGalley. All opinions expressed are my own.

Set the Stars Alight

BOOK REVIEW

BOOK BY: Amanda Dykes

This is the first time I’ve read a book by this author.

The novel has a slow beginning and reads more literary in the first several chapters than the rest of the novel. It isn’t until near the end of the story the reader is enlightened as to why there was so much foundation laid in the beginning chapters. If you can handle the literary narrative style and the slow pacing, this is a story you’ll likely enjoy.

Due to the length and pacing of the contemporary opening, I almost gave up. My attention wasn’t captured until the author brings the reader into the historical story line, which wasn’t until chapter seven. Once I was thrown into the late 1800’s, the author presented a different vibe with the story of Frederick Hanford, future traitor of England (though there are literary style passages throughout the entire novel).

I wasn’t sure what to make of any of the characters. Frederick is a noble, though a self-depriving character who sacrifices his life for another because of guilt. He blames himself for the death of someone and spends the rest of the story trying to make it up to people who are undeserving – though I think that is the point of the novel in drawing a parallel with the Ultimate Sacrifice made for mankind. He carries a weight on his shoulders that isn’t his to bear and he reacts to a childish misunderstanding that sets him on a collision course to becoming a labelled traitor.

There are two characters from the historical storyline I liked, one due to his humour and ability to see past appearances and the other due to his kindness and love for others. The other characters, the ones which Frederick makes it his business to care for are hard to like and left me questioning Frederick’s reasons for continuing to protect them.

Frederick is a legend and in the contemporary story line, Lucy is a grad student looking for funding to unearth the location where the SS Jubilee disappeared piloted by Frederick Hanford. No one has uncovered the truth of why he betrayed England, nor where his ship was run aground. He disappeared into the night on the eve before he was to be executed.

Dashel Greene is a childhood friend of Lucy’s and a forensic astrologer. Combining their efforts they are able to uncover the truth of the Jubilee, its location and the story of its captain.

All the characters in the contemporary story are interesting however their quirks and differences tend to be a bit much at times.

Characters are well developed and descriptions are quite vivid, allowing the reader to envision the places mentioned in the story. The author has a unique narrative style and weaves the historical and contemporary stories well.

I received an ecopy from the publisher through NetGalley. All opinions expressed are my own.

The Bridge to Belle Island

Book by Julie Klassen

Julie Klassen’s latest release is full of twists and turns, making it a challenge, if not impossible, to solve the mystery of who killed Percival Norris. The majority of the time, I felt like I was reading a drawn out game of Clue that had me guessing and regrouping several times until the end.

Photo source: Goodreads
Photo Source: Goodreads

All characters are likely suspects, with powerful motivations to see the crotchety former barrister dead. With the introduction of secondary characters scattered throughout the first few chapters, each one is highly suspect and hiding something. What is revealed in later pages may have readers stunned to learn their secrets.

There is something to love, and forgive, about each character. Ms. Klassen spins a tale so intriguing that one can’t help but to root for the innocence of the full cast. In the end, the culprit is not the most likely suspect.

When it comes to issues of faith, main characters struggle with their relationship with God. It’s not heavy into the faith journey, but there is a bit of it throughout the pages.

This was such an enjoyable read that it’s going in my TBRA pile (To Be Read Again).

Next time, I’ll be sure to study the red herrings more closely and congratulate the author on her obvious cleverness.

Well done.

I received an ecopy from the publisher through NetGalley. All opinions expressed are my own.

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