Here's a description of the book from WaterBrook Multnomah:
"Frontier dangers cannot hold a candle to the risks one woman takes by falling in love
In an act of brave defiance, Tamsen Littlejohn escapes the life her harsh stepfather has forced upon her. Forsaking security and an arranged marriage, she enlists frontiersman Jesse Bird to guide her to the Watauga settlement in western North Carolina. But shedding her old life doesn’t come without cost. As the two cross a vast mountain wilderness, Tamsen faces hardships that test the limits of her faith and endurance.
Convinced that Tamsen has been kidnapped, wealthy suitor Ambrose Kincaid follows after her, in company with her equally determined stepfather. With trouble in pursuit, Tamsen and Jesse find themselves thrust into the conflict of a divided community of Overmountain settlers. The State of Franklin has been declared, but many remain loyal to North Carolina. With one life left behind and chaos on the horizon, Tamsen struggles to adapt to a life for which she was never prepared. But could this challenging frontier life be what her soul has longed for, what God has been leading her toward? As pursuit draws ever nearer, will her faith see her through the greatest danger of all—loving a man who has risked everything for her?"
The Pursuit of Tamsen Littlejohn is the epitome of what I long for in historical romance - fascinating characters, a fast pace, high tension, intriguing historical details (not overdone), gorgeous and sweeping imagery, engaging and excellent writing, points to ponder, and (of course!) a tender romance. The story is as soft, mysterious, and grand as the cover claims it to be, and I couldn't have been more thrilled with that discovery!
With most historical fiction, there's always the concern that the plot will drag, weighed down by details or less engaging, day-to-day scenes. But Benton's sophomore novel is full of movement, unanswered questions, and suspense to carry the story forward. This led to some late nights for me, as the book contains a delicious balance of literary loveliness and action that guarantees a longer but exciting sojourn on the frontier. And there's enough obvious depth in the first read-through of the story and a perusal of the discussion questions to suggest that subsequent reads could reveal further enchanting elements of the adventure.
I really appreciated the portrayal of the various people groups - from the settlers caught up in the drama of the State of Franklin to the Native Americans as both brutal warriors and beloved friends and family. Each character is complex; each character arc captures the imagination.
My one (very slight) disappointment was that I wished for a little more emphasis on the romance at the end - just another more personal scene to touch on all that the hero and heroine went through together. But not to worry! The romance is a very prominent, surprising, and wonderful part of the story, and I loved it. The hero's patience, devotion, and care completely won me over, and the conclusion of his and Tamsen's story is poignant and hopeful.
Fans of historical romance like Laura Frantz's Courting Morrow Little and Catherine Richmond's Spring for Susannah will adore The Pursuit of Tamsen Littlejohn - a story that delivers in both meat and treat, quality and enjoyment.
*With thanks to WaterBrook Multnomah through Blogging for Books for providing me with an ARC of the book in exchange for my honest opinion.*
Note: The Pursuit of Tamsen Littlejohn releases April 15, 2014.
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