I’ve been hopelessly absent from blogging and I’m very sorry about that fact. Truth be known, I really enjoy posting things for you and would like to get into a more regular schedule. I’m currently trying to figure out what that looks like, and what sort of content would serve you all best.
What have I been doing? Besides working at my day job and playing with a very giggly 20 month old, I’ve been writing. My latest Love Inspired book, The Widower’s Second Chance, released in August—it launches a new series called Goose Harbor which follows the lives of people who live on the sandy shores of a tourist community on Lake Michigan.
My next book with Phantom Ship Press will release in October. Searching for Home launches a three book series called Spies of Chicago that follows both a historical and contemporary storyline. Isn’t the cover gorgeous? And then at the end of November a historical Christmas novella titled Hear on Christmas Morning will release.
Other than that I’ve been catching up on one of my favorite activities—reading. Let me tell you, I’ve found some AMAZING books in the last few months and discovered some authors that went directly onto my pre-order every book they ever write list. With that in mind I’m going to post a book review/recommendation every day this week.
The Hesitant Heiress by Dawn Crandall
If I could give this book more than 5 stars, I would. It’s easily the best historical fiction I’ve read in many years (and I’m a 100+ book a year reader). The second I finished The Hesitant Heiress, I wanted to start rereading it and I’ve been thinking about the characters long after finishing it because they are so well written they felt like real people.
The main character, Amaryllis Brigham, has lived a lonely life and would rather spend time with books and music than with people. The day her mother died is wrapped up in mystery and she hasn’t had much contact with her father since she was whisked away to a boarding school straight from the funeral. Adding to that is an over-riding sense that every terrible event in her life has been influenced by Bram Everstone—the man who once loved her mother.
Upon her grandmother’s death Amaryllis learns that she’s set to inherit a fortune as long as she marries within the year—something she’s not willing to consider. The story opens with Amaryllis being expelled from the Boston Conservatory of Music, which leads her to living with her well-to-do aunt in Boston, forcing her to attend parties and hob-nob with those in high society.
Amaryllis meets Nathan Everstone and sparks fly before they even exchange their first words. Nathan is a hero worth cheering on. A man who is both dreamy, yet believable—yes, I said dreamy. Nathan doesn’t give up easily and yet completely respects the space Amaryllis needs. Their love story is beautiful, full of tension, and kept me reading late into the early morning hours.
Poor Amaryllis can’t trust that Nathan loves her though because a misunderstanding leads her to believe that her aunt asked Nathan to pay attention to her. That—and he’s the son of her greatest enemy.
The Hesitant Heiress is told in first person, which I love. I wish more inspirational fiction—especially historicals—were written like this. It often felt like I was reading a contemporary of the book Rebecca or Jane Eyre (two of my all-time favorites). It’s that good. Seriously.
Crandall is masterful at crafting characters who have believable motivations. I completely understood why Amaryllis thought and acted and reacted the way she did to everything because I felt her past hurts and the lies about herself she believed so deeply.
As an author, I can usually guess most twists and turns that are going to happen in a story because that’s how my mind works when I dive into a plot—but with this book I was able to turn that off and just be along for the ride. That’s high praise because I can so rarely engage with a book on that level. I have to adore the book and characters to do that, but Crandall made that easy for me. She’s now on my preorder-every-single-thing-she-every-writes list. There were elements of mystery and plot twists in the book that I didn’t initially see coming.
Crandall expertly drew me into the Gilded Age setting with well researched details and authentic dialogue. I felt like I was there. She also didn’t fall into a mistake that many historical writers make of too much detail—sometimes that’s just as distracting.
More than anything, I can’t get Crandall’s characters out of my head. Amaryllis and Nathan are real. They live and breathe on the page and will do so in your heart and mind long after you’re done. Happily, the next two books of the series are releasing quickly so we all don’t have to wait long for the rest of the stories!
I can’t recommend The Hesitant Heiress highly enough. It deserves far more than 5 stars.
**I bought this book with my own hard earned money and am reviewing it because I think everyone should read it**