Happy Thursday! I know I have not been as consistent as I should at sharing things here on the blog but I am trying to remedy that! Wedding planning and starting a new job have taken me on a bit of a wild ride the past month, but things should be slowing down now. Hopefully that also means I will get to do more reading in the near future! I remember the days when I would average about 3 books a week, but this past month I only read 2 books in the whole month! However, they were 2 quality books, so I am happy to share about them with you!
My Bookshelf: A Return of Devotion by Kristi Ann Hunter
Daphne Blakemoor was content living in her own secluded world for the last twelve years. She had everything she needed—loved ones, a true home, and time to indulge her imagination. But when ownership of the estate where she works as a housekeeper passes to a new marquis with an undeniable connection to her past, everything she’s come to rely upon is threatened.
William, Marquis of Chemsford’s main goal in life is to be the exact opposite of his father. Starting a new life in the peace and quiet of the country sounds perfect…until his housekeeper turns his life upside down.
Both Daphne and William have spent their lives hiding from the past. Can they find the courage to face their deepest wounds and, perhaps, forge a new path for the future together?
A Return of Devotion is the second book in Kristi Ann Hunter’s Haven Manor series, coming after A Defense of Honor. Kristi is one of my top three favorite historical fiction authors of all time, so that just tells you how the rest of this review is going to go. I absolutely loved this book and could not put it down as I was reading it, and now I am even more excited for the next novel in the series to finally release. There is just something about the story of Haven Manor and the people who lived there that pulls you in from the very first moment, and makes you love them and want to know everything about their story immediately. The women who started Haven Manor amazed me from the very first moment I was introduced to them, and they continue to amaze me the more I read about them. Their sacrifice, their willingness to serve, their passion and unconditional love for the children who are born in those less-than-savory circumstances blows me away, and I wish that I could be half as selfless.
Now, to get more specific, let me talk about A Return of Devotion in particular. Daphne is one of those sweet, timid-seeming people that you can’t help but love from the first moment of being introduced to them, but at the same time you always long for them to find their true strength and blossom into a butterfly. Although it was clear from the very beginning that Daphne is one of the strongest characters that will be featured in this series, based on everything she went through and the way that she put her own hurts and feelings aside to raise all of the children the same as the other Haven Manor “Mamas”, she did not feel herself to be the strong, capable woman that she is. And from the moment William was added into the mix, I knew I wanted to see her finally realize all that God had made her to be, and I longed to see how William was going to fit into that. Besides that, William is just the perfect gentleman for this story, with a heart of gold and the perfect level of inquisitiveness to make everything come out in the end, and I couldn’t help but love him just as much as Daphne.
Really, I have nothing negative to say about this book. It captivated me from the very beginning and I loved reading it all the way to the end. My only regret was that the story was over, and that I have to wait forever to finally learn all of the secrets behind Jess’s tough exterior. Jess’s story, A Pursuit of Home, doesn’t release until November, and I am just dying to understand everything that makes her who she is, especially since I learned what I had suspected all along, that she is connected to one of my favorite characters from Kristi’s Hawthorne House series. Anyway, I give this story all 5 bookshelves, and I highly recommend it as a beautiful, wonderfully historical read that will touch your heart and inspire you to make a difference in the lives of those around you. Kristi always does an amazing job of really transporting you to the locations of her novels, and this story was no exception. I felt myself a part of Haven Manor, and I honestly couldn’t help but wish that I could have been a part of the life-changing work that they were undertaking. I definitely would suggest reading this series in order—it would not make nearly as much sense otherwise—but I also recommend reading anything Kristi writes, because they are the perfect picture of what life was like in England in the 19th century, but also capture the hearts of the people who refused to settle for societies conventions and the way things were supposed to be. Read A Defense of Honor. Then read this book. And keep your eyes peeled for A Pursuit of Home, because it is sure to be phenomenal.
My Bookshelf: Heart on the Line by Karen Witemeyer
When danger arrives, it’s more than just her heart on the line.
Grace Mallory is tired of hiding. She hungers for a normal life, perhaps even a suitor like two of her friends in Harper’s Station have found. But when the man she believes responsible for her father’s death discovers her whereabouts, survival takes priority.Amos Bledsoe prefers bicycles to horses and private conversations over the telegraph wire to social gatherings with young ladies who see him as nothing more than an oddity. His fellow telegrapher, the mysterious Miss G, has been the ideal companion. For months, their friendship—dare he believe, courtship?—over the wire has fed his hope that he has finally found the woman God intends for him. However, when he intercepts an ominous message and discovers her life is in peril, Amos must shed the cocoon of his quiet nature to become the hero Grace requires.
Heart on the Line is the second book in Karen Witemeyer’s Ladies of Harper’s Station series, coming after No Other Will Do. I absolutely loved No Other Will Do, so I purchased this book quite some time ago, but for some reason it took me this long to final get around to reading it! Either way, it was worth it, as I really enjoyed it, just like I do everything that Karen writes. The action and adventure that was packed into this novel was absolutely captivating, and I was absolutely unable to put it down. I just had to know what was going to happen to Grace! And Amos, oh Amos. He was such a sweetheart! His strength and determination to shed his quiet nature and fight for Grace was so touching, and I couldn’t help but love him for all that he did for her! I also really loved the side story of Helen and Lee, that was the perfect extra touch that gave this story a little bit more dimension and something else to look forward to seeing how it would end.
My official rating for this story unfortunately did drop down to only 4 bookshelves, however, because I did feel just a little bit like it was not quite at the level of all of the other wonderful novels that I have been reading lately. There was a bit of it that was just a little too predictable, especially when it came to the very end. Although the major climax was very captivating and just as unexpected as one could want it to be, the very end where everything would be resolved seemed like it was resolved far too easily for me. Honestly, I would have liked a little bit more of a fight! It just seemed like such a far cry from the high levels of action that had been threaded all throughout the earlier parts of the book, just like everything fell perfectly into place like a nice little puzzle, and the real world just isn’t like that. I longed for a little bit more drama there at the end. Other than that, I really did enjoy this book, and I highly recommend it to lovers of historical fiction. Even more, I recommend No Other Will Do, as that book was just the perfect beginning to this series. Karen is a fantastic writer, and I always enjoy her novels; I know you will too!
Those are the books I have read this past month! I can’t wait to share more next month!
All credit for the italicized synopses goes to each author and their respective publishers.