Book Review: The Captive Imposter by Dawn Crandall

The Captive ImposterABOUT THE BOOK:

Sent away for protection, hotel heiress Estella Everstone finds herself living undercover as a lady’s companion named Elle Stoneburner at one of her father’s opulent hotels in the mountains of Maine—the one she’d always loved best and always hoped to own one day, Everston. The one thing she doesn’t like about the situation is that her ex-fiancé is in the area and is set on marrying someone else. Reeling from her feelings of being unwanted and unworthy, Estella reluctantly forms a friendship with the gruff manager of Everston, Dexter Blakeley, who seems to have something against wealthy young socialites with too much money, although they are just the kind of people Everston caters to.

When Estella finds herself in need of help, Dexter comes to the rescue with an offer she can’t refuse. She sees no other choice aside from going back home to her family and accepts the position as companion to his sister. Throughout her interactions with Dexter, she can’t deny the pull that’s evidenced between them every time he comes near. Estella realizes that while she’s been hiding behind a false name and identity, she’s never been freer to be herself than when she’s with Dexter Blakeley. But will he still love her when he finds out she’s Estella Everstone? She’s not entirely sure.

The Captive Imposter is now available! Purchase Dawn’s latest release here.


REVIEW:

Dawn Crandall, author of the Everstone Chronicles series, is a superb author. I knew the moment I opened her first book, The Hesitant Heiress, that she would be an author to follow. Less than seven months after that thought came to me, The Hesitant Heiress won the Gayle Wilson Award of Excellence (Romance Writers of America), and I still choose her novels just as eagerly as I did that first one. Filled with romance, faith, suspense, and wit, Crandall has ended her Everstone Chronicles series with a novel that will make readers sad to close the last page of The Captive Imposter.

Known for her novels told in first-person point of view, Crandall’s The Captive Imposter follows her other two novels just as brilliantly as The Hesitant Heiress and The Bound Heart. First-person point of view is notoriously challenging for authors to pull off because one perspective can be biased, but in The Captive Imposter this perspective creates both suspense and empathy. Estella Everstone is the perfect person for which to tell a story in first person; her limited point of view requires readers to constantly wonder about Estella’s world and circumstances, but her personality and the arc of her character immediately draw you into her thoughts and emotions. I felt as I were with Estella during the entirety of The Captive Imposter—experiencing her growth in character and faith, understanding her confusion over a lost love, and feeling the excitement and wonder of a new relationship.

Crandall’s love for Maine, setting of The Captive Imposter and primary settings for the other novels in the Everstone Chronicles, is evident within her writing. Aside from her superb and compelling writing style, the detail and attention to which Crandall infuses her setting demonstrates just how much she loves this area. I have never been to Maine but have no doubt that my imaginings of the state are just what Crandall wants her readers to see. The areas where Dexter and Estella walk, pray, and spend time together come alive because of the care Crandall puts into her settings.

Crandall creates stories and characters that make readers, to use one of her favorite phrases, “feel deeply.” Estella, with her craving to be loved for who she is—not what she is—is just the sort of character with whom readers can identify. I particularly loved that from the outset of the novel Estella recognized her flaws and searched out ways to better herself. Dexter, the perfect foil for Crandall’s heroine in The Captive Imposter, broods just as much as our beloved Mr. Darcy and Mr. Rochester. Ever the hero who comes in to save the day, Dexter stands apart from other heroes with his passion for helping others and being a man of God. The Captive Imposter is a character-driven novel in which Crandall excels at developing her hero and heroine.

I recommend The Captive Imposter for readers who enjoy inspirational historical romance; however, due to some subjects of a sensitive nature, this novel may be better suited for adults rather than teenagers. Crandall’s novel touches upon  For its character-driven story, deeply emotional faith and romance aspects, and superb writing, I claim The Captive Imposter as one of my favorite novels of 2015.

RATING: 5/5 stars


THE EVERSTONE CHRONICLES: 

Dawn’s two other novels in the Everstone Chronicles, The Hesitant Heiress and The Bound Heart, have earned high praise since her original lease in the summer of 2014. The Hesitant Heiress just won the Gayle Wilson Award of Excellence, awarded by Romance Writers of America! Descriptions and links for the first two novels are below, in addition to my reviews.

The Hesitant Heiress

The Hesitant Heiress by Dawn Crandall Published by Whitaker House

The Hesitant Heiress by Dawn Crandall
Published by Whitaker House

After being unjustly expelled from the Boston Conservatory of Music, Amaryllis Brigham sees her dreams of founding a music academy in her hometown of Seattle, Washington, disappearing before her very eyes. Now, the only way to achieve her goal comes with high stakes for someone set on avoiding men as much as possible: Marry within the year to inherit the immense fortune of her estranged grandmother. Amaryllis reluctantly moves in to her aunt’s Boston home and rubs shoulders with fashionable society. Despite her own misgivings, she soon finds herself quickly falling in love with the most unlikely of men, Nathan Everstone, the envy of every eligible female, whose father has haunted her dreams for the decade following her mother’s tragic death. However, Nathan turns out to be much more than he seems…and everything she never knew she wanted. But just as everything Amaryllis has recently hoped for comes to fruition, it all falls apart when she finds that the real culprit who has been managing her life isn’t who she thought at all.

Read A Way With Words’s review of The Hesitant Heiress here.

The Bound Heart 

The Bound Heart by Dawn Crandall Published by Whitaker House

The Bound Heart by Dawn Crandall
Published by Whitaker House

One accidental kiss from Lawry Hampton. That was all it took to throw Meredyth Summercourt’s world upside-down. Determined to marry the ever-elusive Vance Everstone, she simply doesn’t have the time or the desire to fall for her best friend. But with Vance out of the country, and with Lawry at her side nearly every day, teaching her what the world is like through the eyes of a little orphan girl named Wynn–Meredyth can’t deny that what’s holding her to Vance is nothing more than a desire to redeem herself from her past. Will she marry Vance once he returns from Europe? Or will she be strong enough to break free from the tangled web she’s convinced she deserves, and accept that God’s plan for her life includes redemption…and, quite possibly, Lawry Hampton?

Read A Way With Words review of The Bound Heart here


ABOUT THE AUTHOR:

Dawn CrandallA graduate of Taylor University with a degree in Christian Education, and a former bookseller at Barnes & Noble, Dawn Crandall didn’t begin writing until her husband found out about her long-buried dream of writing a book. Without a doubt about someday becoming traditionally published, he encouraged her to quit her job in 2010 in order to focus on writing her debut novel, The Hesitant Heiress. It didn’t take her long to realize that writing books was what she was made to do. Dawn is represented by Joyce Hart of Hartline Literary.

Apart from writing books, Dawn is also a first-time mom to a precious little boy (born March 2014) and also serves with her husband in a pre-marriage mentor program at their local church in Northeast Indiana.

Dawn is a member of Romance Writers of America, American Christian Fiction Writers, secretary for the Indiana ACFW Chapter (Hoosier Ink), and associate member of the Great Lakes ACFW Chapter.

The Everstone Chronicles is Dawn’s first series with Whitaker House. All three books composing the series were semifinalists in ACFW’s prestigious Genesis Writing Contest, the third book going on to become a finalist in 2013.

Links to Dawn: 

website: http://www.dawncrandall.blogspot.com

Facebook: Facebook.com/authordawncrandall

Twitter: @dawnwritesfirst

Amazon: http://www.amazon.com/Dawn-Crandall/e/B00M5EJ0RS/ref=ntt_athr_dp_pel_1


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Book Review: The Bound Heart by Dawn Crandall

The Bound Heart by Dawn Crandall Published by Whitaker House

The Bound Heart by Dawn Crandall
Published by Whitaker House

One accidental kiss—that was all it took to throw Meredyth Summercourt’s world upside down. Determined to marry the ever-elusive Vance Everstone, she simply doesn’t have the time or desire to fall for her best friend Lawry Hampton. But with Vance out of the country, and with Lawry at her side nearly every day, teaching her what the world is like through the eyes of a little orphan girl named Wynn—Meredyth can’t deny that what’s holding her to Vance is nothing more than a desire to redeem herself from her past. Will she marry Vance once he returns from Europe? Or will she be strong enough to break free from the tangled web of deceit she’s convinced she deserves, and accept that God’s plan for her life includes redemption…and, quite possibly, Lawry Hampton?


 

Review:  

Three families forever intertwined during the Gilded Age in America feel the twists, turns, and tugs of heartaches that come from the intermingling of friendships, families, and marriages. The Everstone, Hampton, and Summercourt children have been friends since before birth. The lone young lady of her age in her circle of friends, Meredyth Summercourt has always counted her close friendship with Lawry Hampton as a blessing. Despite their almost-sibling relationship—and everyone’s surprise that they have not formed an attachment after years of close ties—Meredyth keeps her eyes and heart focused on Vance Everstone.

An unfortunate circumstance leaves Meredyth believing that marriage to Vance is her only chance of redemption; Lawry, however, holds strong to God’s plans for his and Meredyth’s future together. While Lawry fights for Meredyth’s heart, Vance’s return home poses multiple threats that could change Meredyth and Lawry’s lives forever. With the chance to believe in God’s love and redemption, Meredyth must choose between the plan she has always believe He has had for her or the one He has truly designed for her life.

 The Bound Heart opens quick and suspenseful and doesn’t let go until the last page. This novel, the second of three in Dawn Crandall’s The Everstone Chronicles, has everything a reader looks for in inspirational historical fiction: a strong heroine, a swoon-worthy hero, romance with purity and passion, suspenseful action, a calling for the greater good, and spiritual lessons that deepen readers’ faith. Crandall has written a story that is fantastic in its characters and characterization, historical content, setting and plot, and its spiritual themes. With a strong following from The Hesitant Heiress, Crandall had an intimidating lead to follow for her second novel; however, The Bound Heart proves an excellent contender for debut Christian fiction of 2014.

The intertwining of the families who comprise The Everstone Chronicles series creates a comfortable atmosphere within these novels that invite readers directly into Crandall’s stories. Introduced in The Hesitant Heiress, Meredyth Summercourt and Lawry Hampton are welcomed back with vigor into The Bound Heart. Lawry is a beloved friend of the male lead in Crandall’s first novel; there is no doubt that readers will fall for him upon the opening of her second book. Handsome, passionate, intelligent, loyal, kind, God-fearing and faith driven, and faithful to a fault, male leads do not come much better than Lawry Hampton. Meredyth, a female confidant in The Hesitant Heiress, leads Crandall’s second novel with beautiful first-person point-of-view that draws readers into her life through the emotive inner-workings of a young woman eager for redemption but unsure of her own worthiness. Between these two lead characters and a variety of secondary ones that push and pull Meredyth and Lawry through their lives, The Bound Heart brings the Gilded Age to life with characters that feel like family.

Plotlines in The Bound Heart support the themes of Crandall’s second novel. Historical aspects of the Gilded Age bring The Bound Heart to life as her characters show the culture and expectations that influenced people in every part of their life. Lawry and Meredyth’s passion for those less fortunate than themselves, for example, is a driving force in the novel that is opposed by their family and society but essential to their relationship and individual growth. This plotline is a particular favorite of mine and one in which I feel Crandall excels because her attention to detail to her characters’ spiritual callings for the less fortunate allow The Bound Heart to penetrate readers’ emotions regarding their own passions and God’s plans for their lives. Meredyth’s spiritual growth is stilted at times; a fuller explanation of her understanding of God’s Word would make her acceptance of His plan for her life more realistic. Nevertheless, Crandall’s themes of redemption and mercy are plainly made, so Meredyth’s change of heart is believable.

I whole-heartedly recommend The Bound Heart for readers who love inspirational historical romance. This novel, while second in the series, can be read as a stand-alone book, and is a good choice for a single reader or for group discussion.

I received this novel from the author for review purposes. All opinions are my own, and no monetary or any other form of compensation was received. This statement is provided by FTC guidelines.

4.5/5 stars

*The Bound Heart is now available for purchase! Don’t forget to order your copy.*


 

Dawn CrandallAbout the Author

Dawn Crandall is the author of The Hesitant Heiress (released August 1, 2014) and The Bound Heart (released November 1st, 2014).

A graduate of Taylor University with a degree in Christian Education, and a former bookseller at Barnes & Noble, Dawn Crandall didn’t begin writing until 2010 when her husband found out about her long-buried dream of writing a book. Without a doubt about someday becoming published, he encouraged her to quit her job in 2010 in order to focus on writing The Hesitant Heiress. It didn’t take her long to realize that writing books was what she was made to do. Dawn is represented by Joyce Hart of Hartline Literary.

Apart from writing books, Dawn is also a first-time mom to a precious little boy (born March 2014) and also serves with her husband in a premarriage mentor program at their local church in Fort Wayne, Indiana.

Dawn is a member of the American Christian Fiction Writers, secretary for the Indiana ACFW Chapter (Hoosier Ink), and associate member of the Great Lakes ACFW Chapter.

The Everstone Chronicles is Dawn’s first series with Whitaker House. All three books composing the series were semifinalists in ACFW’s prestigious Genesis Writing Contest, the third book going on to become a finalist in 2013.

Facebook: facebook.com/DawnCrandallWritesFirst
Book Review Blog: APassionforPages.blogspot.com
Pinterest: www.pinterest.com/dawnwritesfirst
Email: dawncrandallwritesfirst@gmail.com
Twitter: @dawnwritesfirst

Book Review: The Hesitant Heiress by Dawn Crandall

HesitantHeiress

The Hesitant Heiress by Dawn Crandall Published by Whitaker House

Amaryllis Brigham wants nothing more than to return to her home on Whidbey Island, in Washington Territory. A bright and talented young twenty-five-year-old, Amaryllis has spent the last eleven years after her mother’s death transferring from school to school. When she unexpectedly is removed from the The Boston Conservatory’s music program after a slanderous letter from her mother’s former fiancé, Amaryllis joins her cousin, Lawry, and her great-aunt, Claudine, for a summer of high-society parties and travel along the New England coast. Her summer is anything but quiet, however, when Nathan Everstone, the son of the slanderous letter writer, joins her and Lawry at Hilldreth, her family’s ancestral home. Amaryllis discovers over the following months that wealth means little, even for those who stand to inherit family fortunes, when a heart is not open to love.

The Hesitant Heiress, set in various places in the late 1800’s New England, follows Amaryllis Brigham and her family and friends as she strives and struggles to find her place in high society. From the beginning of the novel, when readers first meet Amaryllis as she leaves the Boston Conservatory, to the end of the novel, far away from ritzy Boston, author Dawn Crandall’s main character is captivating and amusing. Readers will enjoy Amaryllis for many reasons—she is witty and quick on her feet when responding to her friends and enemies; she is relatable in her struggles against guilt and shame over circumstances that she had little control over; her determination to be a strong, self-sufficient woman is admirable, especially given the setting of the novel; and her complete love and devotion for her other half is heart-warming.

Amaryllis, aside from her numerous positive points, is not without fault, which makes her an even more appealing character because every reader will find some sort of connection to her. Crandall’s female protagonist searches for her place in the world after a childhood of numerous homes where she does not feel she belongs. She also faces demons of many sizes and shapes as she struggles to understand her parents’ deaths, the villains who instrumented her disrupted childhood, and her own grief and guilt at the way her life has played out. Consequently, Amaryllis’ journey throughout The Hesitant Heiress is filled with self-doubt, frustration, and confusion from many characters as she interacts with her family, friends, and acquaintances not always looking out for her best interests. The depth of emotion that Crandall utilizes throughout all of her characters is superb but shines brightest in Amaryllis because of the challenges she must overcome.

The Hesitant Heiress stands out as an exceptional novel because Crandall develops all of her characters in equal measure, whether main or secondary, male or female, villain or hero/heroine. There is no doubt between the various settings and plot lines that every single character will grab readers’ attention and hearts. Even characters who appear for brief moments are significant to the story and have their moments to make an impression upon readers. The male protagonist, Nathan Everstone, charms his way into the page from the very first moment his character enters the story. Handsome, intelligent, charismatic, and persuasive, Nathan is a man who is used to getting what he wants when he wants it. Readers know, therefore, from the beginning of the story that he is out to win Amaryllis’ heart in The Hesitant Heiress. Crandall breaks away from the usual boy-wins-girl through heroic acts of valor that are so prominent in historical fiction novels with her style of linking characters in unique ways through numerous plot lines. Reading Amaryllis and Nathan’s story gives a push-pull of emotions because the author is skilled at developing situations that leave endless possibilities of good and bad opportunities that affect the protagonists, antagonists, main, and secondary characters all at one time. Crandall’s skills at developing her characters is exceptional in that she leaves just enough of the story lines open to ensure her readers will want to return to the next two books in the series to follow through with the remaining protagonists and antagonists sure to evolve in the coming months of The Everstone Chronicles.

The Hesitant Heiress is a beautiful story of forgiveness, redemption, and love. While reading Amaryllis’ and Nathan’s stories, readers understand Crandall’s message of God’s forgiveness and mercy for his people. Through lyrical writing, symbolism, description, and dialog the author shows the power of love, both on Earth—our relationships with others—and from our Heavenly Father. The novel is recommended for adult readers who enjoy Christian fiction, historical fiction, and any combination of the two.

4.5/5 stars

Review copy was provided free of any obligation by Whitaker House. No monetary or any other form of compensation was received.