Book Review: The Reluctant Duchess by Roseanna M. White

The Reluctant Duchess

The Reluctant Duchess  (Ladies of the Manor #2)     

Author: Roseanna M. White

Publisher: Bethany House

Published: April 2016

ABOUT THE BOOK:

A RIVETING EDWARDIAN SERIES SET AMONG BRITAIN’S HIGH SOCIETY

Lady Rowena Kinnaird may be the heiress to a Highland earldom, but she has never felt good enough–not for her father, not for the man she thought she’d marry, not for God. But after a shocking attack, she’s willing to be forever an outcast if it means escaping Loch Morar.

Brice Myerston, the Duke of Nottingham, has found himself in possession of a rare treasure his enemies are prepared to kill for. While Brice has never been one to shy away from manor-born ladies, the last thing he needs is the distraction of Lady Rowena, who finds herself in a desperate situation. But when Rowena’s father tries to trap Brice into marrying his daughter, Brice makes a surprising decision.

Rowena wanted to escape the Highlands, but she’s reluctant to marry a notorious flirt. And when she learns that Brice is mixed up in questionable business with a stolen treasure, she fears she’s about to end up directly in the path of everything she was trying to avoid.

AMAZON | GOODREADS | BARNES & NOBLE


REVIEW:

Anyone who walks into a Barnes and Noble or surfs Amazon for more than a minute could state that there is no shortage of books in Western civilization. Whether in print or e-format, numerous genres and authors abound with stories fantastical and beautiful enough to whisk you into whatever world you wish to visit. Having many choices, however, requires readers to open new books with open minds. After all, a loaded to-be-read list often means favorites; and favorites, reader friends, equals favoritism.

With that key word in mind, I opened The Reluctant Duchess knowing the second book in the Ladies of the Manor series had a tough predecessor to follow. You see, The Lost Heiress, book one of the Edwardian-set series, is my favorite book of all time (aside from Pride and Prejudice, of course). How could I possibly ensure that Roseanna White’s sophomore novel was given a fair chance as my new favorite book?

It turns out that I need not have worried myself about whether I could remain unbiased while reading The Reluctant Duchess. While The Lost Heiress still remains my favorite book, White’s first and sophomore novels in this series are so different that it’s impossible to compare them purely on the merits of enjoyment. I love both of these books and for vastly opposing reasons–and that, reader friends, is one of the many reasons this series is special.

The Ladies of the Manor series introduces readers to numerous characters and places throughout its novels. The idiosyncrasies and traits of both characters and settings offer unique perspectives on historical stories that open up the lives of people whose worlds are so different–but also so similar–to our own. The Reluctant Duchess is a story filled with the horror and pain of abuse; the steadfastness and protection of a relationship; and the faith and trust in something bigger than ourselves. Unlike the first book in the series, I found that White’s second novel moved slowly, much as the relationship between main characters Brice and Rowena evolved, letting me savor the processes both go through to become the Godly man and women each other deserve. (Take care to note that although I said the story moved slowly, that does mean the story read slowly–two very different things.)

With the steady pace of The Reluctant Duchess, I found I was better able to know Brice and Rowena. Whereas The Lost Heiress had me quickly turning pages to uncover the story, with The Reluctant Duchess I was much more invested in the unique outcomes for each character. This story was less driven by the plot of the Fire Eyes diamonds (although that plot still exists) and much more dependent upon what would happen with White’s hero and heroine.

I enjoyed The Reluctant Duchess very much and am so, so excited for White’s third book in the series. A Lady Unrivaled will be released this fall from Bethany House. September 13th can’t come soon enough!

Rating: 4.5 stars

 


ABOUT THE AUTHOR:

Roseanna WhiteRoseanna M. White pens her novels beneath her Betsy Ross flag, with her Jane Austen action figure watching over her. When not writing fiction, she’s homeschooling her two children, editing and designing, and pretending her house will clean itself. Roseanna has a slew of historical novels available, ranging from biblical fiction to American-set romances to her new British series. She lives with her family in West Virginia. Learn more at www.RoseannaMWhite.com and connect with her on Facebook and Twitter.

 
Disclaimer: I received a free copy of this book from the publisher in exchange for my honest review.

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Novel Review: The Curiosity Keeper by Sarah E. Ladd

The Curiosity Keeper

The Curiosity Keeper (A Treasures of Surrey Novel) by Sarah E. Ladd (Thomas Nelson, July 2015)

“It is not just a ruby, as you say. It is large as a quail’s egg, still untouched and unpolished. And it is rumored to either bless or curse whoever possesses it.”

Camille Iverness can take care of herself. She’s done so since the day her mother abandoned the family and left Camille to run their shabby curiosity shop. But when a violent betrayal leaves her injured with no place to hide, Camille must allow a mysterious stranger to come to her aid.

Jonathan Gilchrist never wanted to inherit Kettering Hall. As a second son, he was content to work as the village apothecary. But when his brother’s death made him heir just as his father’s foolish decisions put the estate at risk, only the sale of a priceless possession—a ruby called the Bevoy—can save the family from ruin. But the gem has disappeared. And all trails lead to Iverness Curiosity Shop—and the beautiful shop girl who may be the answer to his many questions.

Caught at the intersection of blessings and curses, greed and deceit, these two determined souls must unite to protect what they hold dear. But when a passion that shines far brighter than any gem is ignited, they will have to decide how much they are willing to risk for their future, love, and happiness.


REVIEW:

As an good Austenite does, I am always on the lookout for new books set in the Regency time period. A Regency novel set within the framework of Christian fiction? Now that just sets my heart aflutter. And so, within my first few moments of picking up Sarah Ladd’s newest Regency novel, The Curiosity Keeper, I found not only a new-to-me author, but a renewed interest in Regency fiction because this woman’s writing far belies the tropes associated with this genre. The Curiosity Keeper is a wonderful novel that captivated me with its mystery, history, and romance spun into a hero and heroine’s tale of self-worth and love.

I have read a fair share of both Christian fiction and general market Regencies since first becoming acquainted with Jane Austen novels in college. The style and tropes of Regencies for me, therefore, were fairly well known until I came across The Curiosity Keeper, which implemented mystery into the storyline so well that I am anxious to read the rest of Ladd’s novels for more inclusion of that plot. Ladd’s writing style is a beautifully crafted blend of romance and mystery, and hooked me the entire time as I attempted (my mind is not wired to solve mysteries) to discover the culprit in The Curiosity Keeper. At times I became tired of the emphasis placed on the missing items, and I do admit that I would have liked to have read more romance and less mystery. But personal tastes aside, I found the mystery in this novel to be well done and expect to be further intrigued by mysteries in her stories.

Ladd’s straightforward style dropped me directly into the dark and dank streets of London as her heroine, Camille Inverness, worked in her father’s curiosity shop. A horrid place to live and work in 1800s England, London in The Curiosity Keeper utterly fascinated me as a character all its own. I yearned with Camille as she fought to make a safe life of her own in the beautiful English countryside rather than the soot-covered backstreets of London. And once Ladd dropped me into the second setting of The Curiosity Keeper, charming village of Fellsworth, I knew for certain that this author’s books would automatically stay on my bookshelves. Fellsworth’s charms were so beautifully conveyed that I could visualize the visual in Camille’s mind of what it would be like to run through green fields and have golden trees on fire in my backyard. If I never make it to England, at least The Curiosity Keeper brought me close to knowing in my heart what it would be like to visit that country.

The characters in Ladd’s fourth novel drive the storyline of The Curiosity Keeper. Camille is one of the strongest heroines I have come across in Christian fiction, and I truly hope to read more about her in the upcoming novels of this series. She stands on her own two feet, taking her life by charge and refusing to let others do what she knows she is capable of. Jonathan is a charming hero that took my heart quickly–his desire to protect others and do well by his family, but still find his own way, was probably my favorite aspect of this novel. The Curiosity Keeper includes secondary characters that bring this story to life, including a sister who I am hopeful will hold a starring role in another book in The Treasures of Surrey series. A poignant redemptive relationship between Jonathan and his father round out The Curiosity Keeper as a beautiful story revolving around family relationships.

I thoroughly enjoyed The Curiosity Keeper and am so excited for the future Treasure of Surrey novels and Ladd’s earlier series, The Whispers on the Moors. I recommend The Curiosity Keeper for readers who love Regency romances and are fans of Julie Klaassen novels.

Rating: 3.5 stars


ABOUT THE AUTHOR: 

Sarah E. LaddSarah E. Ladd has always loved the Regency period — the clothes, the music, the literature and the art. A college trip to England and Scotland confirmed her interest in the time period and gave her idea of what life would’ve looked like in era. It wasn’t until 2010 that Ladd began writing seriously.  Shortly after, Ladd released the first book in the Whispers on the Moors series. Book one of the series, The Heiress of Winterwood, was the recipient of the 2011 ACFW Genesis Award for historical romance. Ladd also has more than ten years of marketing experience. She is a graduate of Ball State University and holds degrees in public relations and marketing. She lives in Indiana with her husband, daughter, and spunky Golden Retriever.

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

Behind the Scenes: The Hesitant Heiress by Dawn Crandall

Good evening, everyone:

As part of her book launch, Dawn is taking part in a blog tour featuring interviews, book reviews and giveaways. She’s giving away a prize pack every weekend for the six weeks of the blog tour and one larger prize pack at the end. Each of YOU who comments on any post will be entered into the drawing for that specific week, and then also for the end of the tour Grand Prize.

THE FIVE WEEKLY PRIZE PACKS: a $10 Amazon Gift Card, an eBook of The Hesitant Heiress, a mug with all three book covers and a moleskin journal.

THE GRAND PRIZE (at the end of week six): a Kindle Fire, a $10 Amazon Gift Card, an eBook of The Hesitant Heiress, a mug with all three book covers and a moleskin journal.

Yesterday I posted my review of Dawn Crandall’s debut novel, The Hesitant Heiress. To celebrate the release of her novel, Dawn is making two appearances on my blog to share her thoughts on her writing process, as well as and the story behind The Hesitant Heiress! I am beyond excited to welcome Dawn to A Way With Words and know you all will enjoy meeting one of Christian fiction’s newest beloved authors.

The Hesitant Heiress by Dawn Crandall Published by Whitaker House

In our first session, Dawn will discuss her debut novel: her inspiration behind the story, the making of her characters, and the creative process behind The Hesitant Heiress. Welcome, Dawn!


  • How did you decide upon the title of The Hesitant Heiress? Did you ever consider another title for your novel?

I have actually always called this book Amaryllis Brigham… kind of the same way Jane Eyre is titled, since they are both written from first person point of view. Whitaker House wanted titles, so I gave them a list and they picked out their favorites.

  • Some characters in The Hesitant Heiress have unusual names. How important are names to you in your books? Did you choose the names of characters in The Hesitant Heiress based on meaning, sound, or both? Do you have any name choosing resources you recommend?

Names mean a lot to me. I would know the character first, and then I would search for their name. I collect first and last names, and I put them in a notebook. However, with Amaryllis, I found her first and last names while I was in college… even though I didn’t start writing her book for over a decade.

  • Are any experiences in The Hesitant Heiress based on personal experiences? Did you draw upon any stories or movies for inspiration for the novel?

I take the feelings I’ve either felt in situation from my life, or from situations presented to me from a movie or book, and I find a way to channel them into and through my own creative processes. I examine the emotions extensively, and I then figure out ways I could make my own characters feel something similar.

  • If you had to do it all over again, would you change anything in The Hesitant Heiress?

No. There have been enough changes done during the two years I wrote it before giving it to my agent. Really, neither my agent nor editor had many changes to make except for typos… and grammatical errors involving commas. I hate commas!

  • What was the hardest part of writing your book?

The ending! I knew the ending of The Hesitant Heiress for a long time before I figured out how to get my characters there! With the second book, the ending totally took me by surprise. The third one is being good so far though—I’m in the middle of the rearranging faze for that one.

  • Did you learn anything from writing your book and what was it?

I learned that I really could accomplish something wonderful if I put my mind to it! (It also helps when you love doing it!)

FREE CHAPTER ONE

Read Chapter One of The Hesitant Heiress for free! http://whpub.whitakerhouse.com/dawncrandall/heiress.html

  • What were the challenges (research, literary, psychological, and logistical) in bringing it to life?

I don’t feel like research is a chore. I really love it. I think I do it backwards though. Instead of deciding what I’m going to research, I just go about reading about history and let it inspire me. I really love getting into the psychological aspects of my characters. Although I write from only Amaryllis’s POV, I know why every character does and says everything that they do.

  • If you could cast your characters in the Hollywood adaptation of your book, who would play your characters?

Before Zooey Deschanel was so popularly famous, I saw her photo in a magazine and totally knew she was Amaryllis. I’ve always had a very hard time finding Nathan Everstone. The closest I’ve found is Chris Evans as Captain America (minus the hero garb). Meredyth Summercourt is Jessica Chastain (only Mere is taller), and Lawry Hampton is Armie Hammer. I have a Pinterst Board dedicated to the Hesitant Heiress here: http://www.pinterest.com/dawnwritesfirst/novel-1-the-hesitant-heiress-by-dawn-crandall-book/

 

  • Why did you decide to set The Hesitant Heiress in New England?

I love the history of New England. When I married my husband, and we started taking yearly trips through those states, I simply fell in love.

Mount Desert Island, Maine, where Amaryllis and Nathan spend their summers.

  •  Did you have to travel much for research for The Hesitant Heiress? What sort of research went into the publication of The Hesitant Heiress?

I didn’t have to travel, but since my husband and I travel to Maine every summer to see his family, we have taken a few side trips to Bar Harbor on Mount Desert Island, the ruins of the Goddard Mansion in Cape Elizabeth, Maine, and also Moosehead Lake, which is where the setting for book three is based on.

  • You have two more books coming for The Everstone Chronicles. How do you plan the plots of novels that contain characters throughout multiple books? Why did you decide to write about Amaryllis and Nathan for the first book in the series?

I didn’t really plan on anything. Amaryllis has always been the heroine I would someday write about for fun. When I signed with my agent in 2011, I already had Meredyth’s story half written, also just for the fun of it. But for Estella’s book, she totally took me by surprise… I know what she’s been thinking and feeling behind the scenes for two books now, but as soon as I got into her head, I learned a whole lot more about her heart!

  • Who was your favorite character in The Hesitant Heiress and why?

I usually just say Amaryllis, but really it’s hard for me to pick one over all the rest of my main characters. Once I start writing from another character’s POV in another book, I fall in love with her, as well as her hero. I get to know them all so well!

  • How did you decide upon the quotes you placed at the beginning of each chapter of The Hesitant Heiress? Do you have a particular favorite?

I love quotes so much. I always have. I’ve always collected them because they would make me think, kind of like a writing prompt. I think it’s so much fun to pair up what happens in a certain chapter with a quote from my favorite classics! I guess it’s just part of my creative madness that came out without my ever thinking about it. I think my favorite one is: “It would be so nice if something made sense for a change, from Alice in Wonderland. I’ve never read that book, but I found it on a mug once, and it was what first gave me the idea to put relatable quotes at the beginning of my chapters.


Thanks so much for stopping by A Way With Words, Dawn! We look forward to seeing back here tomorrow to learn about your writing process.

About The Hesitant Heiress

After being unjustly expelled from the Boston Conservatory of Music, Amaryllis Brigham sees her dreams of founding a music academy 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 her grandmother’s fortune. Amaryllis reluctantly takes part in her aunt’s society, intent on getting to the west coast on her own… and without a husband.

Despite her own misgivings, she soon finds herself falling in love with the most unlikely of men, Nathan Everstone, whose father not only had a part in her expulsion, but whose ominous presence has haunted her dreams for a decade since her mother’s tragic death. 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.

About Dawn Crandall

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 traditionally published, he encouraged her to quit working 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 pre-marriage 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.

 

To learn more about Dawn, find her at the following sites: Dawn Crandall

Blog: www.dawncrandall.blogspot.com

Facebook: facebook.com/DawnCrandallWritesFirst

Book Review Blog: APassionforPages.blogspot.com

GoodReads: www.goodreads.com/dawn_crandall

Pinterest: www.pinterest.com/dawnwritesfirst

Email: dawncrandallwritesfirst@gmail.com

Twitter: @dawnwritesfirst

Amazon: www.amazon.com/Dawn-Crandall

 

 

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.