Some dreams are worth searching for
Bianca Marshal is looking for a man who can quote both Jesus and Shakespeare. Not surprisingly, that man is hard to find in the small Appalachian town where she lives. Her mother insists that Bianca lower her standards. On the eve of her twenty-fifth birthday, even Bianca wonders if her mother is right.
Still set on experiencing love, or at least a little adventure, Bianca wins an essay contest that propels her into a whirlwind search for the perfect romantic hero. Via the opulence of London and the mysteries of Palestine, Bianca's true love will be revealed—but not without a price that might be too heavy to pay.
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Extremely unique plot. Plenty of drama. Fascinating settings.
All tied together with a thread of mystery.
The Covered Deep is quite the impressive debut. It's weighty (literally and figuratively!) and bold in its direction. While I knew I was on the list to receive a paperback copy for review (see pic below), I got a bit impatient and decided to read an advance e-copy via NetGalley. And even though some of the e-ARCs aren't always easy to read with their formatting issues, I got swept away by the beginning of this story. I found myself as charmed as Bianca by the sights she first encounters in London and aboard ship, as well as the very interesting people she meets.
As the story continued, I became quite engaged to the point of having a hard time remaining silent while reading the book in the lunchroom. The twists and turns, the characters' quirks, the sometimes humorous reactions...all made me want to reprimand the characters, smile, and chuckle in turn.
On that note, I will confess that my desire to react audibly at times was partly due to the melodrama. Some drama with a plot like this (and given all that Bianca experiences for the first time) is certainly understandable and warranted. It just felt a little...much...at times. I love me some protective men in my fiction, but I confess it seemed a little ridiculous to have so many guys ask Bianca if she was all right over and over and over again. Bianca's changing moods and naiveté also alternately amused me and got on my nerves.
However, I should note that some of these same claims could possibly be brought against some of my own writing... So perhaps this is a case of more easily spotting something that you know you do, as well. ;)
Despite my escalating frustrations regarding the heroine and her reactions to certain revelations, I did still enjoy the story. I especially loved the scenes in Israel. I had the privilege to go there, myself, when I was fifteen, and mentions of the various sights and landmarks brought to mind special memories. Vallance does a great job of creating atmosphere and setting mood in her writing, and she balances details and action well.
As for the romance, well, that's all part of the mystery. I will say that the moment when the title is explained, as it relates to the relationships in the book, is quite poignant. The Covered Deep is an imaginative and engaging adventure, and I'm curious to see what other stories Vallance will share with the world!
*With thanks to the author, publisher, and NetGalley for providing me with a copy of the book in exchange for my honest opinion.*
Bianca and me, chillin' in my apartment. I think we're still friends. ;)