Author: Lawana Blackwell
Genre: Fiction, Historical Fiction, Christian Fiction
Pub Date: August 2008, Bethany House Publishers
Trade Paperback, 415 pages
Will this quaint village be the safe haven her heart craves?
To protect her precious daughter from the danger nipping at their heels, Jewel Libby must flee the only home she's ever known. Caring friends direct her to the vicarage in the peaceful dairy village of Gresham, but she arrives there to find Vicar Andrew Phelps and his wife immersed in troubles of their own. Their son Philip, a successful London surgeon, has a controlling wife who resents his close family ties. And daughter Aleda lives in a cottage on the outskirts of Gresham, where she adamantly pursues her writing career and her solitude--often to the exclusion of others.
When Andrew becomes ill and in need of his son's skills, and Aleda's quest for privacy unwittingly advances and evil man's schemes, Jewel finds the tables turned--she is the one offering support and a source of strength. But an unlikely romance is about to change everything.
It's not often I find a book blurb to be so off the mark, but that was the case with this one. Not that I didn't enjoy the book, because I did, but this blurb is really quite a bit misleading and over dramatizes parts of the story quite a bit.
I have to admit that the story gets off to a slow start and the plot is very difficult to follow for about the first quarter to third of the book. The transitions from chapter to chapter are a bit shaky as the scenes and characters change, but once every main character was located in Gresham, the story was ever so much easier to follow and get caught up in. The story really begins to pick up when the "evil man" mentioned in the blurb arrives, though his schemes really were not advanced the way the book blurb implies. The evil Donald is certainly an unlikable man and it was galling to read how various women fell for his fake charms. He was, however, a well-written character. Many of the characters are not particularly developed, though Blackwell does a pretty good job with Donald, Jewel, Aleda, and Loretta. In all fairness, this is actually the fourth book in the series, so many of the characters may be developed in other books.
Something else I particularly enjoyed was that it was not immediately obvious with whom Jewel would eventually fall in love, however, once that was apparent it took an agonizingly long time for anything to happen! In fact, there is so much going on in this story, that it unfortunately overshadows Jewel's eventual romance and her own story. I really don't feel that this book was about Jewel as much as it was about an entire family in this village. In the end, we were really left with about two chapters devoted to the supposed romance, as if the author realized she needed to get everything wrapped up to close the book. Overall, once the story really got moving, it was an enjoyable light read with some good messages, while not being overly preachy. While this was the fourth book in the series, it did work as a stand alone novel and I do not feel I missed out on anything by not having read the first three books.
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