Wednesday, June 22, 2022

HISTORICAL FICTION : A Brilliant Night of Stars and Ice by Rebecca Connolly

A Brilliant Night of Stars and Ice


ABOUT THE BOOK

Shortly after midnight on April 15, 1912, the captain of the Carpathia, Arthur Rostron, is awakened by a distress signal from the RMS Titanic, which has struck an iceberg on its maiden voyage. Though information is scarce, Rostron leaps into action, determined to answer the call for help. But the Carpathia is more than four hours away, and there are more questions than answers: Will his ship hold together if pushed to never-before-tested speeds? What if he also strikes an iceberg? And with the freezing temperatures, will there be any survivors by the time the Carpathia arrives?

Kate Connolly is excited to join her sister in America and proud to be traveling on the grand Titanic. As a third-class passenger, she is among the last to receive instruction and help after Titanic hits an iceberg. Despite the chaos of abandoning ship, Kate is able to reach the upper decks and manages to board a lifeboat, though after seeing the Titanic sink into the abyss and hearing the cries from the hundreds of people still in the water, she wonders if any rescue is even possible.

Told in alternating chapters from both Captain Rostron on the Carpathia and Kate Connolly on the Titanic, this historical novel is a compelling, heart-pounding account of two eyewitnesses to an epic disaster. Rostron's heroic and compassionate leadership, his methodical preparations for rescue, and his grit and determination to act honorably and selflessly to save lives and care for the survivors, sets the course for this awe-inspiring story.

REVIEW

The story of the Titanic is a well-known one.  Many books, both fiction and nonfiction, have been written about the disastrous sinking. Most of those books, at least the ones I've read, focus on the experience of the survivors on the Titanic itself.  This book also looks at the horrific experiences of the survivors.  What this one does that's different, is the focus on the captain and crew of the Carpathia, the ship that rescued the survivors.  In alternating chapters, Connolly shares with readers two different perspectives.  One perspective is that of Arthur Rostron, the captain of the Carpathia as he and his crew receive word of the Titanic's sinking and rush to help.  The other perspective is that of Kate Connolly, an Irish immigrant, who is traveling to the United States in the company of several friends.  The reader travels along with Kate and Captain Rostron as they face the tragedy and heartbreak of the disaster.  The author does an excellent job of helping the reader feel the terror, shock, and grief that afflicted those on the Titanic.  What makes the book especially powerful is the urgency that drove Captain Rostron and his crew as they worked feverishly to come to the aide of the Titanic.  I think what struck me most about this book, and it's the reason I liked it so much, is that is personifies what I love so much about survival or disaster stories: the courage and determination and selflessness that people so often exhibit in the face of difficult circumstances.  Connolly has done a fantastic job of sharing a fictionalized version of a true story focusing on real people and what they experienced over those few days.  Highly recommended for those who enjoy a story that inspires both tears and admiration.

Wednesday, June 1, 2022

CHRISTIAN FICTION REVIEW: The Mistletoe Countess by Pepper Basham



ABOUT THE BOOK

Will the magic of Christmas bring these two newlyweds closer together, or will the ghosts of the past lead them into a destructive discovery from which not even a Dickens’s Christmas can save them?

Mistletoe is beautiful and dangerous, much like the woman from Lord Frederick’s Percy’s past, so when he turns over a new leaf and arranges to marry for his estate, instead of his heart, he never expects the wrong bride to be the right choice. Gracelynn Ferguson never expected to take her elder sister’s place as a Christmas bride, but when she’s thrust into the choice, she will trust in her faithful novels and overactive imagination to help her not only win Frederick’s heart but also to solve the murder mystery of Havensbrook Hall before the ghosts from Frederick’s past ruin her fairytale future.

REVIEW

I know it isn't Christmas right now, but I loved this book so much I couldn't wait to review it!  The Mistletoe Countess provided a delightful and thoroughly engaging reading experience.  Not only was the plot compelling, but I absolutely fell in love with these characters.  They honestly felt like friends that I'd want to sit down and enjoy again and again.

When Gracelynn Ferguson steps in and marries an earl in her sister's place, she never expects to face a new home full of questions and the unhappiness of her new husband's past.  As Frederick and Grace's relationship develops and they become friends as well as spouses, Grace uses her unique collection of skills to help her husband find the healing and redemption he so desperately seeks.  With her sunny disposition and deep knowledge of fictional characters and plot lines, she works to help her husband discover what happened to the his brother, the former Earl of Astley.  Frederick's tender heart has been wounded by choices from the past, but Grace's openness and generousness of spirit helps him find the courage to face the past and work toward building the future.

Many of the interactions between the characters are wonderfully laugh inducing.  Grace is such a fun character, and quite amusing in the way she's always referring to fictional characters and what she has learned from her reading, especially the sleuthing information.  The growing relationship between Grace and Frederick is sweet and tender. The other characters provide greatly to the story as well, especially the servants reactions to Grace's often quite improper behavior.  Frederick's mother is a rather heartbreaking part of Frederick's past, but by the end, like Grace, I felt some empathy for her situation even though it's partly self-induced.  As a romance, there is plenty of kissing involved; intimate relations are shared between Grace and Frederick as husband and wife, but are kept off the page, although there are a couple of bedroom scenes where they are talking. 

As Christian fiction there is frequent mention of God and prayer and religious belief throughout the story, but it doesn't get preachy or bog down the story in any way. The contrast between Frederick's past mistakes and Grace's innocence highlights Frederick's efforts at redemption and restitution.  The murder mystery becomes a prominent part of the story as Grace and Frederick begin to settle in at Havensbrook Hall and prepare to celebrate Christmas.  The danger that stalks Grace and Frederick builds in tension until the denouement at the end where Grace and Frederick have a chance to show just how much they have come to care for each other.

The length of this review should make it clear that I truly loved this book and plan to enjoy reading it many times in the future.



Thursday, April 28, 2022

Grief and forgiveness come together in this tender tale of family reunion. EVEN THE DOG KNOWS by Jason F. Wright



ABOUT THE BOOK

A family’s old, beloved dog takes a final road trip to help his humans find forgiveness and healing. Meg Gorton finds herself alone and lonely in Florida. Three years earlier, she had packed what she could fit into her sister’s car and asked her estranged husband, Gary, to take care of Moses, their beloved black Labrador. Things between Meg and Gary hadn’t been the same after the loss of their only daughter many years ago. Even after raising their grandson, Troy, it was clear that if Meg wanted a new beginning, she would have to do it alone.

Haunted by the tragedy of his daughter’s death, Gary is stuck in his life in Woodstock, Virginia. He still owns and drives the bus for their hometown minor league baseball team, and he still thinks about the day his wife drove away.

Everything changes when Meg contacts Gary with a request to bring Moses to visit her one last time before the old dog passes on. Gary is reluctant, but Troy thinks it’s an excellent idea. They could even travel together in Gary’s bus. Along the way, Gary takes a detour to visit Troy’s ex-girlfriend, Grace. Gary might not know how to fix things with his wife, but he knows he doesn’t want Troy to make the same mistakes he did.

Although Moses is just a dog, he’s very observant. It doesn’t take long for him to figure out they are going on to see Meg. He knows he’s an old dog and that his time is near, but he also knows his family needs his help.

Even the Dog Knows is a novel that will take readers on a thousand-mile journey to find forgiveness, understanding, healing, and the meaning of true and lasting love.


ABOUT THE AUTHOR

JASON F. WRIGHT is a New York Times, Wall Street Journal and USA Today best-selling author. He is also the host of the popular podcast Wright Where You Are. He writes an occasional column, which as appeared in over one hundred newspapers, magazines and websites across the United States including the Washington Times, the Northern Virginia Daily, the Chicago Tribune, the Deseret News, Forbes, CNN.com, FoxNews.com and others.

Jason grew up in Charlottesville, Virginia, but has also lived in Germany, Illinois, Brazil, Oregon and Utah. In 2007, while researching Virginia’s Shenandoah Valley for a novel, Jason fell so in love with the area that he moved his family to Woodstock. He is married to Kodi Erekson Wright. They have two girls and two boys they love, and two grandchildren they love even more.

To invite Jason to your book club, school, church, conference or other event, connect online: jasonfwright.com, facebook.com/jfwbooks, Instagram.com/jasonfwright.

You can also reach Jason through a handwritten letter: PO Box 669, Woodstock, VA 22664. He answers—eventually!—every single one.

REVIEW

My heart was drawn into this touching story of love and loss right from the beginning.  I felt drawn into Gary and Meg's relationship from the moment they meant.  And then my heart broke when I read about the grief they experienced at the loss of their daughter and how it ultimately drove them apart.  The story is told from three points of view, Gary, Meg, and their dog, Moses.  This gives the reader more information and insight than any of the characters have by themselves.  The addition of Troy, Gary and Meg's grandson who they raised as their own son, and his ex-girlfriend makes for an interesting additional plot line.  The dog's point-of-view provides a different perspective on everything that is happening.  Moses just wants to be with his family and for everything to work out.

When Meg, living in Florida, asks to see Moses one more time, Gary (very reluctantly), Troy, and Moses head out in the old bus that Gary uses to transport the local baseball team to games.  The trip proves to be much more eventful than any of them would have expected.  While the 'boys' are witnessing accidents, taking detours, and helping a homeless wanderer, Meg and her health care aide, Macy, prepare for their arrival.

The lessons learned and the hearts touched stayed with me as I completed the journey with the characters.  Not only did I find this an interesting story, but the themes of family, grief, guilt, and forgiveness resonated with me as well.  Wright knows how to tell a story, with enough detail to help the reader feel like they are right there with the characters.  Ultimately, this is a story of hope, of love, and of overcoming obstacles and heartbreaking circumstances, not by accident or luck, but by choice.

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Friday, April 8, 2022

BLOG TOUR and GIVEAWAY: BEFORE THE FORTRESS FALLS by A.L. Sowards

Before the Fortress Falls


ABOUT THE BOOK

When rumors reach Vienna that an attack by the Ottoman army is imminent, Wilhelm von Schor, one of the emperor’s courtiers, prepares to evacuate his family—including his sister, Katja. But Katja’s reluctance to leave the city and the people she loves so well grows the farther the family carriage gets from her childhood home. When she learns that another brother, Xavier, is returning to Vienna with his musketeers, she decides to remain behind and face the shadow of war.

Katja soon reunites with Xavier and also with Toby, a dear friend from childhood. As Katja and Toby renew their friendship, an element of attraction builds on the comradery of their youth, and they quickly realize they have found something worth fighting for: love. But all too soon, the Ottomans encircle the city, blanketing its inhabitants in fear. Katja, Toby, and Xavier must each fulfill their new roles if they are to survive. In the overcrowded hospitals, below ground in the countermines, and on the ramparts defending the city walls, the three must fight for love, family, faith, and the survival of their city and everyone inside.

ABOUT THE AUTHOR

A. L. Sowards is the author of multiple historical fiction novels, with settings spanning the globe from the fourteenth to twentieth centuries. Her stories have earned a Whitney Award, several Whitney Finalists positions, and a Readers’ Favorite Gold Medal. She enjoys hiking and swimming, usually manages to keep up with the laundry, and loves it when someone else cooks dinner. She currently lives in the beautiful state of Alaska with her husband, three children, and an ever-growing library.

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REVIEW

A.L. Sowards has written another stunning historical fiction story with amazing characters, incredible historical detail, and a compelling, heart-breaking plot.  Katja and her brothers, Xavier, and Wilhelm get caught up in the siege of Vienna by the Ottoman empire in 1683.  While Wilhelm uses his diplomatic skills to get help for the besieged city, Xavier serves in the army desperately trying to hold off the highly skilled janissaries.  After deciding to stay in the city, Katja finds herself helping care for the wounded while falling in love with an old friend, Toby.  Toby works as a counterminer, helping defuse miners and fill in threatening mines. While the city's fate hangs in the balance so does the fate of Katja and her friends and family.

As in her previous works, Sowards provides an amazingly detailed glimpse into a time and place and what it may have been like to be there.  The suffering presented is heart-wrenching while the resilience and determination of various characters is inspiring.  The Christian faith of the characters shines through in the most difficult of times. Katja's and Toby's class-defying romance is both sweet and sad as it occurs during an incredibly difficult time for both of them.  Sowards' great storytelling presents readers with a story that touches the heart while sharing surprising connects to current events.  For those who enjoy reading historical fiction that leaves its mark on you when you are finished, I highly recommend Before the Fortress Falls.

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Monday, March 28, 2022

THE VALET'S SECRET by Josi Kilpack: a delightfully unexpected tale of romance between the classes with a Cinderella vibe.



ABOUT THE BOOK

As a once happily married woman, Rebecca Parker had a good life, but now widowed, working for a living, and her only child grown, she feels invisible, tired, and lonely. That is until the day a valet speeding by on a horse nearly runs her off the road. Mr. Malcolm Henry is apologetic, gentle, and handsome. She’s instantly drawn to him, which is why, rather than stopping him from kissing her, she kisses him back, reigniting a nearly forgotten passion. But love at first sight only happens in fairy tales—never to an ordinary woman like her.

She sees Mr. Henry again and feels the possibilities growing until, while working in the kitchens during a dinner party, she sees the valet she kissed sitting at the right hand of the baroness. Mr. Henry is not the earl’s valet; he is the heir to the earldom—Kenneth Winterton.

Heartbroken, angry, and betrayed, Rebecca does not trust Lord Winterton and refuses to accept his apology. But when Lord Winterton proves he is as kind and gentle as “Mr. Henry” was, she finds herself willing to give him a second chance. But will he take a chance on her? He needs a wife to help him in his place in society, and nothing about Rebecca’s life does that...except how he feels when she is with him.

Trust, love, loneliness, and passion collide in this story about a man who will risk it all to fight for the woman he loves and a woman who does not believe in fairy tales—until she finds herself living in one.

REVIEW

As with all her books, Josi Kilpack manages to make this historical romance based on a fairy tale feel fresh and new.  Kilpack creates such interesting characters who are fully fleshed out.  They have strengths and weaknesses, interesting personalities, and diverse backgrounds.  This story creates an interesting contrast between the two main characters while still finding common ground between them.  Rebecca Parker's background as her father's artistic assistant and former maid stands in stark contrast to Kenneth Winterton's background as a gentleman who has become heir to an earl.  According to their classes the two would have never conversed except as servant and gentleman.  But an inadvertent encounter changes both their lives.  In an attempt to ease the awkwardness of their meeting Kenneth lies about who he is, believing they aren't likely to meet again.  When they do meet again and discover the connection between them remains, things get more complicated, especially when Rebecca does eventually find out his correct name and position.  It seems their is no hope for a relationship between them despite their growing feelings for each other.  But perhaps an extra ounce of courage and help from a surprising source may pave the way for more than either could have ever dreamed.  

This Cinderella-based tale made for thoroughly enjoyable reading.  Both Kenneth and Rebecca are sympathetic characters who find themselves in difficult circumstances yet find joy in each other's company.  I also appreciated the fact that both characters are middle-aged and not expecting to find romance when they meet.  I found it refreshing to read about characters who come from more humble circumstances who struggle with their changes in circumstances but have the maturity to face them with courage and compassion.  Kenneth and Rebecca's love story is full of delightful details and smile-inducing moments.  A thoroughly engaging read for those who love clean historical romance as I do.

Tuesday, March 1, 2022

Can love conquer all in the face of differing beliefs and a world turned upside down? Find out in Arlem Hawks stunning BEYOND THE LAVENDER FIELDS.

Beyond the Lavender Fields


ABOUT THE BOOK

1792, France

Rumors of revolution in Paris swirl in Marseille, a bustling port city in southern France. Gilles Étienne, a clerk at the local soap factory, thrives on the news. Committed to the cause of equality, liberty, and brotherhood, he and his friends plan to march to Paris to dethrone the monarchy. His plans are halted when he meets Marie-Caroline Daubin, the beautiful daughter of the owner of the factory.

A bourgeoise and a royalist, Marie-Caroline has been called home to Marseille to escape the unrest in Paris. She rebuffs Gilles’s efforts to charm her and boldly expresses her view that violently imposed freedom is not really freedom for all. As Marie-Caroline takes risks to follow her beliefs, Gilles catches her in a dangerous secret that could cost her and her family their lives. As Gilles and Marie-Caroline spend more time together, she questions her initial assumptions about Gilles and realizes that per-haps they have more in common than she thought.

As the spirit of revolution descends on Marseille, people are killed and buildings are ransacked and burned to the ground. Gilles must choose between supporting the political change he believes in and protecting those he loves. And Marie-Caroline must battle between standing up for what she feels is right and risking her family’s safety. With their lives and their nation in turmoil, both Gilles and Marie-Caroline wonder if a révolutionnaire and a royaliste can really be together in a world that forces people to choose sides.

ABOUT THE AUTHOR

ARLEM HAWKS began making up stories before she could write. Living all over the western United States and traveling around the world gave her a love of cultures and people and the stories they have to tell. She has a bachelor’s degree in communications, with an emphasis in print journalism, and she lives in Arizona with her husband three children.

REVIEW

Arlem Hawks hits it out of the park with her new historical fiction novel Beyond the Lavender Fields.  Her characters are fascinating and intriguing, her setting is superbly presented, and her plotting is magnificent.  I found this novel of the French Revolution to be utterly compelling.  I didn't read it quickly, the story has to many ins and outs and ups and downs to be read quickly.  But I found myself relishing each encounter between Gilles and Caroline as they got to know each other.  Not only was their relationship complicated from the beginning because of their political beliefs but the circumstances and people around them complicated things as well.  This made their love story all the sweeter and more intricate as they both come to terms with their feelings for each other as well as face the ongoing challenges of the revolution.  Caroline seems firmly placed on the royaliste side of things, but as I got to know her better I realized that it wasn't that simple.  Some of her actions were distinctly non-royaliste.  Gilles grows and develops as he realizes that his beliefs and actions don't always match up to the revolutionary zeal that he has long professed.  This stunning novel full of intricate details and sometimes shocking events took me on quite the journey. By the time I was finished reading, I considered Gilles and Caroline to be dear friends.  The mixing in of the French phrases and places made it feel all the more real.  I did appreciate the inclusion of a glossary of the French terms and a pronunciation guide for the names. The only thing missing was a good map or two.  This is a book that I will read again and again just to enjoy meeting old friends again.

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Tuesday, February 22, 2022

SUMMERHAVEN: A Regency Romance by Tiffany Odekirk

Summerhaven


ABOUT THE BOOK

Hannah Kent and Oliver Jennings pledged their hearts to each other as children. Now, years later, Hannah is thrilled to receive an invitation to spend the summer at Oliver’s family’s country estate. The path to wedded bliss is clear—so long as Oliver’s highbrow older brother, Damon, has ceased his juvenile antics, Hannah’s future looks bright indeed.

But from the moment Hannah arrives at Summerhaven, nothing is as she expected. Oliver seems disinterested in renewing their acquaintance, and Damon is not the brutish boy she remembers but a man intent on avoiding marriage. Although she has loathed Damon her whole life, when he contrives a ruse designed to win them both what they desire, Hannah warily agrees. All she has to do to reclaim Oliver’s attention is pretend to be madly in love with Damon. But when Damon is surprisingly convincing in his role as a suitor, it proves difficult to discern the line between pretense and true love.

REVIEW

This lovely tale of love misguided and love forsworn made for a sweeping adventure.  Hannah's dream of the promised love between her and Oliver Jennings sends her to Summerhaven in hopes of seeing the promise from her youth fulfilled.  To her surprise, however, Ollie doesn't seem at all interested in her anymore.  After making a deal with Ollie's older brother, she discovers to her surprise that maybe dreams can change.  Damon and Hannah make for some great characters that I thoroughly enjoyed reading about, especially as they got to know each other better.  Odekirk does a fabulous job bringing not only her characters to life but the time and place as well. I very much look forward to returning to the sweet environs of Summerhaven again and again.

BOOK EXCERPT

Damon stepped forward, and his watch key and seal—visible reminders of his status and self-importance—clanked together. He bowed. “Miss Kent.”

“My lord,” I returned with a shallow curtsy. 

The corners of his mouth curled into a smile. “I see someone has managed to make a lady out of the wild girl I once knew,” Damon said, and before stepping back in line with his mother, he met my eye and added, “A pity.”

My eyebrows pulled together in surprise. 

“Do try not to scowl, Miss Kent. It will crease your lovely brow.”

“Damon Jennings,” Lady Winfield scolded. “You have been taught better manners.”

“My apologies, Mother. Teasing a beautiful woman is one of few things that has yet to be lectured out of me.” 

I gaped. Never in all my life had a man spoken so casually to me. Damon may have grown into a man, but he was not a gentleman.


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Friday, February 11, 2022

A Child of God by Chantel and Mauli Bonner



ABOUT THE BOOK

Even with a different name and skin a different shade, everyone’s a child of God. He loves us all the same.

This rhyming, read-aloud book with warm illustrations shares a comforting, faith-filled message from a Black father and mother to their children. Along with the children in the story, your own little ones will think about the ways our skin color, gender, and physical features are all different, as well as the things that bind us all together.

In soothing verse, the father assures his children that everyone can look like Jesus and the angels by the things they do. As the family walks through their neighborhood, the father points out the beauty in God’s creations, from flowers, all unique and different, to all the children in their community. This book will start conversations in your family about appreciating the beautiful differences among all of God’s children, helping your children become better disciples of Christ.

REVIEW

This beautiful book reminds readers that all human beings are children of God.  A young black boy and girl are taught by their parents that they were created in God's image and that all of us can become like Jesus through the things we do.  As the father walks his son and daughter to school they stop and look at a picture of two blond angels (without wings) and he explains that it is one person's depiction of what angels look like.  The two children then draw pictures of angels (with wings) who look like them. He goes on to explain that all of God's children are loved and unique and that we, as human beings, are all loved regardless of country of origin or skin color.  Bissant's lovely illustrations are buoyant and full of color and life and carry forward the uplifting message this book teaches.  Additional suggestions for discussing this topic with children are included at the back, including Bible references.  

Tuesday, February 8, 2022

A MEDIEVAL ROMANCE: To Win a Lady's Heart by Sian Ann Bessey



ABOUT THE BOOK

For eighteen years, Lord Gilbert has been tortured over a grievous lapse in judgment. Bitterness has tainted his interactions with the people of Moreland and his relationship with his only daughter, Lady Joanna. With a wolfhound guarding her around the clock and no freedom to leave the castle grounds unattended, the only time Lady Joanna can be alone is when she sneaks out through an old castle tunnel to visit the healer Agnes in her cottage by the sea. One morning as Lady Joanna approaches the cliffs, she discovers an injured man. She immediately goes to Agnes for help. The wounded stranger is Sir Lukas, and while he recovers, he makes plans to identify his attackers and their motive. Upon learning that Moreland’s wool has been stolen, Sir Lukas comes to believe that the crimes are related and point to a much more sinister plot. When Lord Gilbert announces an archery tournament, the prize being Lady Joanna’s hand in marriage, it attracts noblemen from across the land, and suddenly Sir Lukas’s pursuit of the villains takes a different turn. As Lady Joanna’s and Sir Lukas’s feelings for each other grow, the stakes soar, and only Sir Lukas’s skill with a longbow can save them.

REVIEW

I found To Win a Lady's Heart to be a enjoyable read.  Lady Joanna and Sir Lukas make a great pair.  Lady Joanna, despite her isolation due to her father's obsessing over her safety, cares about the people around her.  She even sneaks out of the castle to visit her friend Agnes, a healer, who lives by the ocean.  On one such excursion she comes across an injured knight.  After getting him help the two begin to develop a bond.  Complications ensue when Lady Joanna's father, Lord Gilbert, decides to offer her hand in marriage to the winner of an archery tournament.  In addition to that hurtful situation, wool in being stolen from Moreland's farmers leaving them unable to pay their taxes.  Sir Lucas suspects that those who attacked him may be involved in the thefts. Only by working together and learning to trust each other can Lady Joanna's and Moreland's future be secured.  I enjoyed the setting and the time period.  I haven't read many stories that take place during the medieval time period so I found it a refreshing change.  Bessey does a great job of making the setting easy to imagine along with her characters.  The archery contest was fascinating to read about and the action and adventure were plentiful.  All in all, the book is an enjoyable, entertaining read for those who enjoy clean, historical romances.



Thursday, January 20, 2022

CAN GIL AND EUDOCIA OVERTHROW A GOVERNMENT AND FIND LOVE? FIND OUT IN Of Sword and Shadow by A.L. Sowards

Of Sword and Shadow


ABOUT THE BOOK

Greece, 1379

She is known by many names, none of them her own. In truth, she is an unnamed slave, nothing more than a weapon in the hands of her owner in his attempts to provoke political mayhem. When she encounters a handsome young man while on an assignment, she thinks little of him—until he attempts to take what she has stolen. But in her line of work, failure is not an option.

Gillen is intrigued by the mysterious woman who thwarts his mission. But when his path crosses hers again, his intrigue turns to gratitude as the thief he comes to call Eudocia saves his life. The two form a bond of friendship and join forces to wrest control from a group of ruthless rulers. But as their camaraderie blossoms into something more, Gillen and Eudocia must fight for love even as they wage war for a better future.

REVIEW

A.L. Sowards' Of Sword and Shadow presents readers with a powerful tale of love and revolution in Medieval Greece.  A young with no name shares her story with readers through her compelling first-person narration.  As the story opens she's in the middle of stealing some important documents from an influential man.  That's when she first meets Gil, a young Basque looking for the documents she just stole.  Using her wits and training, she escapes him and returns to her owner, Thomas.  Using various names and disguises, our narrator has been working as a thief for her master for most of her life.  But after meeting Gil and his associates her life starts to change.  Gil treats her with kindness and caring even before she saves his life. 

Getting involved with Gil and the others proves to be a rather dangerous undertaking for "Eudocia" and her master, one with grave and unexpected consequences.  As Eudocia and Gil grow closer, the danger becomes ever greater until each of them are required to make difficult and life-altering choices.  Will their feelings survive the plot to overthrow the cities rulers or is there relationship doomed from the start?

The characters pulled me right into the story from the first moment they met the chemistry between them is clear.  While Gil and Eudocia are the main characters, the secondary characters provide a great deal of interesting development as well.  Even Eudocia's master isn't as clear cut of a villain as one might assume.  The historical detail and plot provide a fascinating background for Gil and Eudocia's story including the attempt to overthrow the Catalan rulers.  Not having read much about this time period I was intrigued by all the happenings and details included by the author.  I also appreciated the author's note at the end where she explains where she fictionalized things, sometimes for the story's sake and sometimes because of historical holes.  Ultimately though it was the characters that I fell in love with, which admittedly made reading a couple of parts challenging.  Sowards isn't afraid to put her characters through the wringer. Her action sequences kept me turning the pages as fast as I could get them read. A thoroughly-compelling, intriguing tale with incredible characters, great historical detail, and amazing plotting.  Highly recommended for those who enjoy historical romance.