Wednesday, December 18, 2013
Reading Cram Read-a-thon Day 10: Review Challenge
I'm working on Wishing on Willows, my 4th book for this read-a-thon, and hope to share my review of that story and some others in the coming days. Meanwhile, today's challenge (sharing a review of a book read in 2013) is great timing, as I have another review to share from my #ReadingCram reading, anyway!
Here's a description of the book from Bethany House:
Annalisa Werner's hope for a fairy tale love is over. Her husband failed her in every way and now his death has left her with few options to save the family farm. She needs a plentiful harvest. That, and a husband to help bring it in. Someone strong, dependable. That’ll be enough. A marriage for love...that's something she's given up on.
So her father sends a letter to his brother in the Old Country, asking him to find Annalisa a groom.
Then a man appears: Carl Richards, from their home country of Germany and a former schoolteacher--or so he says. He's looking for work and will serve on the farm until her husband arrives.
With time running out, she accepts his help, but there's more to this man than he's admitting. He's also gentle, kind, charming--unlike any man she's ever known. But even as Carl is shining light into the darkness of her heart, she knows her true groom may arrive any day."
Jody Hedlund doesn't just give great writing advice via her blog - she carries it out through her novels! They're well-crafted, with good pacing and engaging characterization. While the premise of A Noble Groom wouldn't normally be my favorite, as I'm generally not as interested in romance stories involving children, I still found myself drawn into the characters' dilemmas and loving Carl for his care not only for Annalisa, but also for her daughter Gretchen and others. For a guy who should be quite spoiled and self-centered given his past, he learns humility rather quickly (although it takes him a frustratingly long amount of time to accept facts that are quite obvious to the reader!).
Hedlund doesn't spare her characters from humiliation, heartaches, and trials, and she uses each to create a sense of authenticity and a deeper sympathy for the characters. What I especially loved about this story, though, was the atmosphere. While some of the storyline elements/events aren't new to Christian fiction (A Promise to Love by Serena B. Miller shares some similarities, although they're certainly very different stories), A Noble Groom has a unique feel, very much matching the scene and colors depicted on the cover. I love Hedlund's descriptions of the setting, as well as her intriguing balance of interesting details and great romance.
All in all, I was charmed by the hero and the timely fairy-tale theme of A Noble Groom. Another winner from Hedlund!
*With thanks to Bethany House for providing me with a copy of the book in exchange for my honest opinion.*