Monday, October 27, 2008

Book Review: Quills & Promises by Amber Miller

A tender mix of inspirational romance, historical figures and memorable fictional characters come together for an enjoyable read in Quills & Promises by Amber Miller. This is the second book in Miller's Delaware Brides series.

Set during the French and Indian War, young Elanna Hanssen unexpectedly meets up with Major Madison Scott, a visiting cousin of her best friend. Both Madison and Elanna are taken with each other, but he is soon called away to war. They must depend upon their correspondence to carry on their relationship and to learn more about each other, ever careful not to reveal too much, lest their letters fall into the wrong hands.

An unusual interest in the war puts Elanna in contact with Mr. Witherspoon, a young journalist for the Wilmington Journal. When he shares war reports that question Major Scott's integrity, Elanna must depend upon her initial meetings with Madison and her faith in God to help her decide if she should follow her heart.

As I read through Quills & Promises, I thought Elanna could have been Anne Shirley from Lucy Maud Montgomery's classic Anne of Green Gables. Elanna, like Anne, is constantly trying to reconcile what she would like to do with what is proper in society and for her age. This makes her a sympathetic character from the start. That sympathy increases when she is separated from Madison so quickly and later discovers he may not be the man she thought him to be. The reader is as eager to uncover the truth as Elanna is.

The strength of this book is definitely its characters. Madison is torn between his duty, his hatred of war, and his desire to see Elanna again. The camaraderie between Madison and the men in his regiment is something I very much enjoyed. Edric, Elanna's twin brother, is both protector and supporter of his twin, and ends up being crucial in Elanna getting information about the war. Mama understands Elanna's battle between her desires and what society allows, as well as, provides great insight into what Elanna must do in order to decide if she should follow her head or her heart. And Mr. Witherspoon, whose motives Elanna is not quite sure of, makes the perfect antagonist.

While the history buff in me would have enjoyed a few more historical details, since the writer is limited to a certain word count with Heartsong, that may not have been possible. The focus in these novels is always more on the romance--which this book certainly has from beginning to end as the reader watches the love between Elanna and Madison bloom across the miles.

Fans of inspirational romance and historical fiction will certainly want to read Quills and Promises by Amber Miller.

Title: Quills and Promises
Author: Amber Miller
Publisher: Heartsong Presents
ISBN: 978-1-60260-049-2
SRP: $4.95

Tuesday, October 14, 2008

Book Review: With Endless Spirit by Allison Pittman

The story of a young girl's determination to stay true to God's plan despite the tragedies and loss she endures is what you'll find in the highly anticipated conclusion to the Crossroads of Grace series by Allison Pittman.

With Endless Spirit introduces the reader to Belinda, a young girl born into privilege. Led to believe her family is going on this great adventure, reality soon strikes while on the journey West. Wounded and suddenly alone, Belinda clings to her faith to help her in this harsh new world.

Forced to spend the winter with the man who stole the life she once knew, Belinda struggles to find the power of forgiveness. Her journey takes her to a mining camp in Wyoming, also home to a red-roofed brothel, where she finds friendship and perhaps love. But is her faith strong enough to let her forgive?

What a satisfying conclusion to the Crossroads of Grace series! Belinda, who fans of the first two books will learn receives a new name once she ends up at Jewell's place at Silver Peak, is an inspiring character whose story was begging to be told. The author pits Belinda against tragedy and loss while the reader is allowed to witness her evolution from a secure but shy girl to a young woman determined to survive and believe in God's hand in her life.

Just as with Pittman's other books in this series, Ten Thousand Charms and Speak through the Wind--which we reviewed here and here--the author's attention to historical detail adds realism and depth to this novel. Just like Speak through the Wind, fans of the series are treated to discovering the story of a secondary character from the first book. And while in Ten Thousand Charms, most of the story unfolds at Jewell's place, a good portion of Belinda's story is told before she even finds herself at the red-roofed brothel.

Christian fiction fans won't want to miss the powerful conclusion to the Crossroads of Grace series. And they'll want to read all three books again as soon as they finish. Allison Pittman is an author whose work touches the heart and lifts you up. I eagerly await Pittman's next project.

Title: With Endless Spirit
Author: Allison Pittman
Publisher: Multnomah Books
ISBN: 978-1-60142-012-1
SRP: $13.99