This was a good read. Jonah Hex is a hero whose demeanor is as disreputable as his appearance. He's not afraid to get his hands dirty, and probably enThis was a good read. Jonah Hex is a hero whose demeanor is as disreputable as his appearance. He's not afraid to get his hands dirty, and probably enjoys violence too much. But he's not an amoral killer either. He makes his way to Gotham, and that place is definitely in need of a tough hero like him. Set in the late 1800s, more than a 100 years before Bruce Wayne is born, but Gotham is already a cesspool of corruption in the making. There is already a secret society who really runs things, and they are committing murders to send a message. Jonah teams up with the future founder of the Arkham Asylum, a psychologist who cannot help analyzing him, and there's a lot to analyze. He eventually comes to respect Hex for his methods, because there is no better man to have at your side or cutting a swathe of destruction in front of you to clear the way.
I'm not sure how much Bruce Wayne would respect or get along with Hex. Probably a certain level of respect, but I'm sure Batman wouldn't be as fond of all the killing that Hex does as a matter of course.
Other stories feautured different western heroes like El Diablo and the Barbary Ghost. I liked the Barbary Ghost because she is a kickbutt Chinese woman who takes on the crime syndicate who wiped out most of her family. How could I not like her?
This graphic novel is fans of good, old-fashioned western action. The supernatural elements are light here, but that's okay. There's plenty of action to keep this reader happy.
I'm going against the crowd in my rating for this book. I loved it. Honestly, I didn't think a book about the Napoleonic invasion of Russia would floaI'm going against the crowd in my rating for this book. I loved it. Honestly, I didn't think a book about the Napoleonic invasion of Russia would float my boat (despite my history appreciation), but it did. I loved the mix of military history and murder mystery. I think that the well-done characterization was a deciding factor in gaining my interest. I found the fact that the main characters are part of Napoleon's Army, thus, sort of on the bad guy side, and I rooted for them to survive what history tells me was a devastating campaign added to my high rating. I'm sure that some reviewers could find more things to pick apart in this book, but I found it fascinating. I also give points for the fact that it was very coherent, considering it was translated from French to English. Not a quick read by any means, but a fulfilling one.
Riding her horse one day, Laurel Smith meets a man who makes her want to open her closed world after many years living in the gray background. Synopsis
Riding her horse one day, Laurel Smith meets a man who makes her want to open her closed world after many years living in the gray background. Tredway Lorent is not exactly a seasoned cowboy. Instead, he is a town-bred fellow with an eye for detail and organization, but he's interested in exploring his possible career options, including working on a horse ranch. She brings him back to Wells Double Bar, her brother and sister-in-law's ranch, and convinces her brother to give him a job, because she feels drawn to him and doesn't want him to walk out of her life just like he walked into it.
Tredway brings Laurel out of her shell, encouraging her art, and supporting her efforts to help others. In return, Laurel sparks this too-serious, too-thoughtful young man to enjoy life and accept that everything doesn't have to be so meticulously controlled, as well as going after his dreams. She finds her way into this heart, but fears of past failure still haunt him. Laurel knows that Tredway is the only man in her heart, but will she and her Perfect Tenderfoot ever make the move towards happily ever after as man and wife?
Perfect Tenderfoot is a sweet love story with two leads that are admirable and kind-hearted. Their interactions speak of deep friendship and admiration, with love growing slowly but surely. Beggs evokes images that take the reader back to life in in late 19th Century New Mexico. A strong sense of community is a highlight of this novel, as Laurel and Tredway continually help others in need, and expand their growing circle of friends and acquaintances.
I appreciated their good-heartedness, and their desire to live meaningful lives, as well as Laurel and Tredway's determination to conquer past fears and insecurities. However, the story was slow-moving at times, lacking sufficient romantic tension. While I could see that the love developing between Laurel and Tredway was genuine, I felt like it seemed to take a backseat to their continual efforts to help others and their personal emotional turmoil. Because of that lack of prominent romantic development, I didn't enjoy this novel quite as much as the first two in the series. However, the likable characters, the sense of community and the historical feel still make it more than an average read.
Perfect Tenderfoot is a novel for aficionados of sweet historical westerns who don't mind a lack of strong romantic tension. Laurel and Tredway are distinctive characters rendered with heartfelt sincerity by Beggs. That and the sense of strong community ties and a motivation to help others do make this book a worthwhile read, although not as successful on the romantic front.
Changes is a wonderful example of what historical romance can accomplish in giving us a spotlight into history. History is alive and vivid, and we canChanges is a wonderful example of what historical romance can accomplish in giving us a spotlight into history. History is alive and vivid, and we can learn so much from it. Why not wrap that history lesson in a human story about two people who are very different, but connect through the love they share, and in the process learn that humans are all the same deep down?
Geraldine Jordan has been preparing herself for an arranged marriage contracted by her late aunt and the matriarch of the McKenna family, hopiSynopsis
Geraldine Jordan has been preparing herself for an arranged marriage contracted by her late aunt and the matriarch of the McKenna family, hoping that she might end up the wife of Alistair McKenna, a man she has been in love with most of her life. With the congenital malformation of her foot and her subsequent limp, she knows she's not the best choice for a bride, but her trust is in God to work everything out. To her surprise, her Uncle Henry arrives with news that her intended has turned her down as a bride and instead wishes to hire her as a governess for his orphaned niece, Erin Elyse. When Alistair arrives, she makes it clear that she has no desire to marry him anyway, especially with the hurt of his rejection and the fact that his brothers made her life miserable with their teasing when she was younger. Although hurt about the rejection, Geraldine clings to her faith in God, and trusts that this was his plan for her to be there to help this young girl, and to cherish any time she can spend near Alistair.
Alistair feels profound regret for hurting Geraldine with his rejection, when the truth is, he's been in love with her as well for many years. His reluctance to marry is not because of her, but because he doesn't think he'd be a good husband. He wants to make amends for hurting her, and seeks to draw closer to the God he has distanced himself from lately. Forces inside the McKenna home are working together to unite the two sweethearts in marriage, while at the same time a veiled threat lurks in the household with other plans for Alistair McKenna's future.
That Impossible Dream is a historical romance with an intrinsic Christian faith message. Geraldine is a young woman who has faced some significant obstacles, but relies on her faith in God to keep her strong and to keep her moving in the face of heartbreaking circumstances. I liked her character a lot. I found her encouraging, and her anguish at life's disappointments and her faith in the Lord helped to draw me into the story. Unfortunately, she was the only character who had a noteworthy impact on me as I read this book. Alistair was introduced too late in the story to grow attached to him, and the romance wasn't sufficiently developed for me to find it credible. I needed to see Geraldine and Alistair spend more time together in this story to become emotionally engaged in the love story between them.
Another issue was the heavy reliance on narrative, which didn't serve to advance the story. More dialogue and character interactions, particularly between the two leads, would have given this story much more impact. I actually felt like some less important characters got more screen time than the most pivotal ones. And characters who play a crucial role seemed not to have enough dialogue.
Lastly, there was a major pacing issue. It was as though the last fifteen pages included most of the action and wrap-up in this story. The suspense element felt like an afterthought because there was no buildup or gradual progression over the course of the story. The resolution occurred so quickly that it wasn't believable.
Overall, I was disappointed with That Impossible Dream. Although I liked Geraldine's character and I rooted for her happiness, I didn't find much more appealing about this novel. With more dialogue, better pacing, and more focus on the interactions between Geraldine and Alistair, I think this would have been a more satisfactory read.
Liana is a young, transplanted Frenchwoman taken in by an older Native American when her father dies with his gold claim in the Yukon under diSynopsis
Liana is a young, transplanted Frenchwoman taken in by an older Native American when her father dies with his gold claim in the Yukon under dispute. She has learned all the many lessons that Henry taught her to survive in the cold wilderness of the North. When Henry is murdered and she flees her pursuers, she will have to rely on that training, especially when she's stranded on a deserted narrow island in the middle of the raging, icy river. The days tick down slowly and her chances for survival narrow with each day with no food and limited shelter. Liana must face the unsympathetic, cruel force of nature, all alone on her frigid island of refuge.
An Island Between Two Shores is a tale of survival that brings back my memories of reading stories by Jack London in which humans travel to the frozen North and pit their wills against the unforgiving wilderness. The story of the struggle between man and nature is not a new one. In this case, it is woman against nature. I appreciated that because gender is no factor in having the skills to survive in the wilderness. It's about knowledge, will, and sometimes just sheer luck. In this case, Liana's education in living on the land in the North comes from the best, and other than that, it's up to her wits against nature.
The writing was crisp and clear, taking the reader to this place of brutal cold and harsh elements. It had a vividly realistic feel. Williams paints a bleak picture, but there is beauty in the descriptions of nature, even at its most fierce. Liana herself appreciates the beauty of nature as she waits for the ice on the river to freeze so she can leave the island. With little to do except rest in her improvised shelter, she has time to observe it. She sees the Northern Lights and all the constellations in all their unpolluted glory. In the wilderness, man (or in this case, woman) is alone with herself and the forces of nature. Self-knowledge is unavoidable in this process. Liana's inner dialogue as the days count down and she realizes that she is growing weaker wrenched at my psyche.
This story grabbed at my gut. I wanted to keep reading, hoping all the while that she would survive, yet fearing that she would not. The sheer enormity of Liana's struggle to survive, and the bleak nature of her predicament hit home with me. I could feel the grinding ache of the fierce cold, as well as the horrible emptiness of the starvation that Liana suffered. An Island Between Two Shores will stay with me a long time. In a profound way, I identified with this young woman, who just wanted to survive the cruel, indifferent wilderness that preys on both the strong and the weak.
As much as I enjoyed this story and appreciated the writing, I felt the ending was weak and robbed this book of some of its impact because it was too quick and a bit predictable. Otherwise, this is a well-written novel. I believe those who enjoy survival tales will probably appreciate An Island Between Two Shores as much as I did.
The history of this short story might be even more intriguing than the actual writing itself. Mr. Polidori was the personal physician of the infamousThe history of this short story might be even more intriguing than the actual writing itself. Mr. Polidori was the personal physician of the infamous Lord Byron, and this work of fiction was conceived on that famous holiday event in which Lord Byron, Percy Shelley and Mary Godwin (who would later become Mary Shelley) issued a challenge to each other to write Gothic stories. This was Mr. Polidori's result.
I have little doubt that Lord Ruthven was inspired by Lord Byron. Polidori's feelings towards his debauched past employer are quite clear. In this case, Lord Ruthven has a supernatural ability to ruin, damage, and destroy anything he lays his hands on, and enjoys doing so in the process. This does not speak well of Lord Byron, and based of what I have read of him, I can see some echoes of him in this character. Lord Caroline Lamb, the incredibly outrageous for her times, cast-off mistress of Byron is immortalized in a character who appears briefly in the beginning of the story, at least in my opinion.
As far as the writing, I didn't feel that it was particularly inspired or brilliant. This short story is all telling and little showing. This created a distance between the characters in this story and myself. It was hard to feel much sympathy for Aubrey, his sister Miss Aubrey, Ianthe, or anyone else because the narrative was too much like a bland newspaper article, with little connection to the intense emotions of the persons involved. I had a distant feeling of dislike and disgust for Lord Ruthven, which with more active, vivid writing could have been outright disgust. That is a sadly wasted opportunity for a writer, in my opinion.
It's hard to say much overall about this story. It wasn't bad. I can't say I was disappointed, because I didn't have high expectations. Regardless of the issues as far as the writing, Mr. Polidori has earned his place in the vampire fiction canon. Sadly, he lived a short, disappointing (to himself) life. Although he could not be aware of the famous status of this story, it is some comfort to me that he has created something that endured two hundred years later. For that I will respect and appreciate The Vampyre. And also for its commentary of Lord Byron, a man whose antics pretty much created its own character archetype in literature, the Byronic hero. Admittedly in this case, there is nothing at all to recommend Lord Ruthven. Lord Byron himself, I cannot say yay or nay to that question.
End verdict: Any vampire fiction aficionado should take the opportunity to read this story at least for its historical value....more
The Gods of Gotham was an impulse audio read from my trusty library, and it was definitely worth the read. The narrator really took this book where itThe Gods of Gotham was an impulse audio read from my trusty library, and it was definitely worth the read. The narrator really took this book where it needed to go. His voices were subtly different for each character. He endows Timothy with the integral mix of hardened cynic and stubborn idealist which defines his persona. For Valentine, Timothy's jaded older brother, his tone is more sardonic and poised, what I would expect of a borderline shady rakish fellow such as Valentine. The narrator also does the voices of women well. He doesn't fall into the trap of endowing all women with a high falsetto, but instead their voices are higher than men and have the feminine softness expected of women, without each one sounding like a clone. Even the children's voices are well done. I would give the narrator five stars alone, although I am not committed to giving this whole book that rating.
Readers who have watched the television series Copper or the movie Gangs of New York will find this world familiar. Set in New York City in the mid-19th century when the influx of Irish into the country reached an epic high, the author doesn't hesitate to be real with the situation. Each chapter begins with an excerpt from historical documents of the time, including some horribly bigoted written statements against Catholics and particularly the poor Irish that came over in the wake of the Potato Famine in Ireland. It paints a very vivid picture of the realities of this time with all the depths of the ugliness of human nature on display.
There were more than a few wince-worthy moments, from the rampant racism against Irish and blacks (among other marginalized groups, even Jews), and not to mention the horrible bigotry towards Catholics. All these are crucial to the story, although Faye focuses more on the Irish-phobia and the racism against other groups is a realistic backdrop. One aspect that I found the most chilling was the casual acceptance of existence of child prostitution. This was just one of the many extant social ills of the time, but the idea is so abhorrent that it did make this read a little more difficult for me. I was grateful that Timothy in his own way takes a hard stance against this.
Some readers might find the portrayal of women in this novel quite jaundiced. I can't really point fingers in that area, since most of the characters have their share of stains on their soul. Having said that, I really did not like Mercy Underhill. Although I realize that Timothy is deeply in love with her, I hope he gets over her, because she does not deserve him, and not because of her failings but the callous way she treated him. I liked Mrs. Boehm and young Bird a lot. Their characters help to give texture to the story and to further define Timothy's own characterizations. Despite his cynicism, his deep sense of justice is shown in how he interacts with their characters in particular, but also in other ways.
It's obvious I really liked Timothy and with good reason. He's a good everyman hero. Imperfectly perfect as a lead for this book. I liked that he has a keen detective mind, but his reasons for having it have to do with his background as a bartender and his own hard life in New York City. He's very down-to-earth, but honorable at the same time. His conflicted relationship with his older brother is a very important aspect of this novel. Readers who enjoy the theme of familial relations (often troubled) will appreciate their relationship. There is a deep seed of bitterness between them that tarnishes many of their interactions, and I was glad the author took the time to delve into that, and the reasons turn out to be very crucial to the story. I rather liked Valentine, even though he has some very questionable morals and his behavior is quite debauched even at the best of times. Deep down I think he's a good man who truly loves his brother, despite his admittedly flawed moral compass.
Overall, Gods of Gotham is a gritty, atmospheric historical mystery/thriller that made for very good listening. From a stellar narrator in Steven Boyer, to well-crafted historical details, to characters that are far from one-dimensional, this has all the ingredients for a good read. Although not a five star book, it's definitely a four star read with my thumbs up to it and recommendation to readers who enjoy historical mysteries and thrillers. I will be picking up the sequel, Seven for a Secret very soon....more
Spending Christmas with three generations of the same family written by Carla Kelly was an enriching experience. Ms. Kelly explored the way that war aSpending Christmas with three generations of the same family written by Carla Kelly was an enriching experience. Ms. Kelly explored the way that war affects families during wartimes. In the case of the Wilkie-Warton family, all three generations of the family have met during a war and married. I liked how Ms. Kelly took the very depressing concept of war and loss and used it as a backdrop to romances in development, and in a way that felt realistic and involved me emotionally. I especially appreciated how each story read differently, but was no less enthralling.
My thoughts on each story:
1812: A Christmas in Paradise: This story resonated personally with me because I lived in San Diego for six years, and it did feel a bit like being in paradise, although there were also some less desirable aspects about it. No, I wasn't shipwrecked there, a Scot in a strange land of perpetual warm weather, fish galore, and lots of Spanish/Mexican culture. But I think that I can identify with most of those things I listed. What I loved the most about this story was the earnest good-heartedness of the hero, Thomas. He is a Navy surgeon who genuinely cares about people. While human, that caring part of him motivated him to do the right thing and offer marriage to Laura Ortiz, who was truly in desperate straits. That marriage works out very well for them both, as they find true love. I admit one part made me cry like a baby. I'm sappy like that.
1855: O Christmas Tree : I don't have the pleasure of reading too many books set during the Crimean War, but this is one of them. That alone was one more advantage of this story. Added to this was the beautiful friends-to-lovers story between widowed Lilian, the daughter of Laura and Thomas from the first story, and an American Army Corps of Engineers officer, Trey Wharton. I loved how shy Trey was. He was constantly blushing, although he had a good sense of humor and a warm way about him. I wanted to give him a hug. I was glad that these two people found each other in a war-torn landscape where they saw too many bad things that weighed on their souls. I also like the unique way that they were able to bring and celebrate Christmas with the wounded soldiers and the Sisters who worked in the hospital. It had a bit of the "Gift of the Magi" by O Henry vibe to it. This one made me tear up as well. Yes, sap here!
1877: No Crib for a Bed: Ms. Kelly takes the reader and Captain Wilkie Wharton, Lilian's son to the Old West, where this Army surgeon sees the aftermath of the Indian Wars in a very personal way. He's asked to escort a regained Indian captive white woman back to her people in Iowa. Only Nora doesn't want to go, because she has to leave her children behind, since their father was Indian. His heart hurts for her, but he doesn't have a choice otherwise. Along with Wilkie is Frannie Coughlin, a cheerful teacher in Fort Laramie, who is also traveling back East. They find a companionship together that is problematic, considering that Wilkie has a fiancee' waiting for him back home. When Wilkie delivers a baby from a dying mother with Frannie's assistance, both realize there is no going back when that strong a bond forms between two people. Yes, again this one made me cry. I felt so bad for Nora. To think that they were forcibly separating her from her own children because they were half-Indian and she wasn't. I couldn't imagine the pain she was in. Also the newborn baby was so cute. Yes, my sap quotient goes up even more. The romance part was good too.
Overall Thoughts: Carla Kelly successfully writes a trio of books that are interconnected in an ingenious way, all around the theme of wartime, medicine and Christmas away from home. Each one touched me in different ways, and I just plain like and respect her characters. They are all grounded and realistic people in the best of ways. While I didn't finish this one before or during Christmas, but in fact, three days afterwards, I still love immersing myself in the Christmas spirit, and this book provides that feeling in spades, along with a great romance.
This veteran historical romance novel-reader asks this question: Do we really need any more rake heroes? No! They make me yawn and roll my eyes. But wThis veteran historical romance novel-reader asks this question: Do we really need any more rake heroes? No! They make me yawn and roll my eyes. But wait! What about Adrian, Viscount Rohan? Okay, maybe we can have a few rake heroes, as long as they are masterfully brought to life as Ms. Anne Stuart did with Adrian.
Yes, yes, yes! I know you will wave a hand at me and say, "You like all her books, so your opinion isn't really valid." I guess if you feel that way, you should probably stop reading this review. But, if you want to hear me out, then keep reading.
Once again, I was in raptures. Adrian is a man who doesn't deserve a woman like Charlotte. He knows it, she knows it, we know it when we're reading this story. Heck, Ms. Stuart knew it. But, I wanted him to have Charlotte so bad. Usually when the hero is an arrogant dog, I want the heroine to take his heart and stomp on it into a mushy consistency that resembles a tomato dropped from the second story of a building. Yes, I am vindictive like that. With Reckless, I was reading feverishly, anxious to see how this predator would get his prey. Adrian was so bad, in a very good way. I loved the cat and mouse game he played, how he stalked Charlotte into the garden of no return (at least if you wanted to stay celibate). I love bad boys, but I usually love the bad boys who are physically dangerous, not the skirt-chasers. But this is one bad rake that I really loved.
Another reason that I wanted Adrian and Charlotte to get together so much was because Charlotte was so in love with him. I thought she should have this man she pined for so badly (but always in a dignified way). I didn't want her heart broken, or for her to be used and abandoned, but I wanted her to have a little happiness in her life. In the scenes where Charlotte's loneliness and feelings were so poignantly displayed by Ms. Stuart’s writing, I felt my heart clench. Charlotte didn’t wear her heart on her sleeve, but Adrian knew and so did her cousin Lina. She was the consummate wallflower, awash in her isolation, in a world of perfect budding beauties; her on the wrong side of thirty, six-foot tall, and freckled, and penniless to boot. Normally I want to give the heroines who chase after the rake a good slap on the back of their head to bring them to their senses. But, in this case, I wanted them to end up together. Even so, I liked the fact that in this book, Adrian pretty much did all the pursuing; it was just up to Charlotte to surrender, and boy did Adrian make that an easy thing to do.
Their scenes of intimacy were so sexy, and so beautiful. It’s hard to describe. You could think of it as sex scenes, but there was another level there. A connection that was forming between them that I oftentimes find missing with other books with this theme. Those stolen interludes were gratifying to me, even if I knew that their time together was illicit and might end badly.
I loved that this was just the beginning of their courtship. Adrian had to go through a sea change. It’s easy to say that the right sex partner will change a rake’s heart. I don’t believe that, and I never will. But, I could totally believe that Adrian’s time with Charlotte had changed him. Something clicked inside of him when it came to Charlotte. I wonder if she was there in his mind the whole time, but she was marked ‘off-limits’ for whatever reason; and when he saw her at the Heavenly Host Revel, he decided he was going to take what he truly wanted, and damn the consequences. Even though it was so wrong of him to seduce Charlotte, I ain’t mad at him.
Being a stubborn knucklehead, Adrian does some stupid things in his relationship with Charlotte, and they both know it. I loved how Charlotte wasn’t afraid to stand up to Adrian and tell him he was being stupid. She wasn’t like putty in his hands, well at least not all the time. That powerful attraction between them held sway, but not to the point of idiocy; and, as I always demand in a good romance, it was mutual. If Charlotte was a fool for love, so was Adrian.
The secondary romance was so good. I loved Lina and Simon together. I wanted to cry for Lina and for what she’d gone through in her marriage, and how it had sent her into a very disagreeable (at least for me) lifestyle. I can’t decide if I would have liked it better if she enjoyed it or not. If I don’t like promiscuous heroes (and I don’t), I definitely don’t like lascivious heroines. With any topic that is not to my taste, it has to be done well, and it was here. I loved and respected Lina, even if I didn’t like the choices she made. This character was in Anne Stuart’s hands, and I was sighing and hoping that she would get her HEA. I loved Simon too. I liked that he called Lina on her nonsense, and she did the same for him. She opened his heart to love, and he did the same for her. They had a powerful attraction that opened the door for something more. I could totally see this couple having a happy life together, because they had a connection that surpassed the superficiality of their disparate roles in society.
I can’t say there is anything I didn’t love about this story. I mean, the suspense part wasn’t that necessary to the romance (in my mind), although it tied into the story. I don’t read romance of this sort for suspense, so I was more fixated on the progression of Charlotte/Adrian and Lina/Simon’s romances than that aspect. I loved seeing Francis, now Marquess of Haverstoke, and Elinor, his Marchioness, again, who are Adrian’s parents. I like how Francis is now a stern father, and Elinor a loving, indulgent mother. It was kind of interesting seeing Adrian getting called on the hot seat in front of his father. Made me laugh!
Gosh, I adored this book. It was a rapturous romance, and with a theme I usually don’t like. I am just not into rakes. But, some authors can deliver a story of a rake and the good woman who turns him around so well, that I am in, hook, line and sinker. Anne Stuart is my favorite author of all time for a reason. I think I’d better shut up now. I may end just babbling incoherently about how happy I feel when I read one of Ms. Stuart’s books. She only gets better (which is quite a feat), in my humble opinion. This one definitely goes on my best of 2010 list. ...more
If I was to list the Grande Old Dames of Historical Romance, I'd definitely have LaVyrle Spencer on my list. It's a shame that she has retired from wrIf I was to list the Grande Old Dames of Historical Romance, I'd definitely have LaVyrle Spencer on my list. It's a shame that she has retired from writing, but at least she leaves a legacy behind in her excellent books she has written.
The Endearment is one of her books I managed to overlook for some reason. Initially, I thought it was one of the many that I read growing up, and forgot the details about. But I'm pretty sure I haven't read this before. I will admit that I made a note to reread (or perhaps read for the first time) it when I saw that it was listed on the All About Romance Virgin Hero List, which is a theme I can't resist. Of course, I tend to obtain copies of books, and they languish in my tbr pile until I get the urge to read (or have the time to read). I pulled this one out of the pile and added it to my PRIMAVERA challenge, and that is why I have read this book and I am reviewing it now. After that lengthy segueway, I will actually write my thoughts on this book.
As far as frontier romance, you cannot go wrong here. In this book, Karl Lindstrom is an earnest, decent, hardworking Swede who has come to Minnesota to set up his own homestead. In the two years since he arrived, he has ached with loneliness (since he left his big family behind in Sweden and is unmarried), with only his goat Nanna and his team of Percheron horses, Bill and Belle, to keep him company (in the most innocent of ways, mind you). He decided to seek a mail order bride, and ends up corresponding with Anna Reardon, who tells him a never-ending stream of big fat ones that make her seem like the ideal bride candidate. He sends her money to come out to Minnesota from Boston to marry him and be his wife.
When Anna arrives, Karl is struck by her beauty, even if she is thin and much younger than she said (he wanted an older bride-twenty-five, and she's seventeen). It turns out she didn't come alone. She brought her thirteen-year-old brother James with her. Karl isn't very happy about that. He's worried about having another mouth to feed and not having time alone with his new bride. He agrees to marry her, but tells her ‘no more lies.’ Anna means it when she says she won’t lie to him, but there’s still a big whopper between them that she can’t put into words. He’ll find out the hard way. And until then, she can only hope for the best between them.
At first, Karl seems like the perfect hero. However, he’s rather rigid about his moral view of the world, and has trouble forgiving. My sympathies shifted as I read this story. At first, I was annoyed that Anna and her brother were pulling a whole bunch of fast ones on Karl. Then, I realized that the lies that Anna and James told were a matter of survival. Lying is wrong, but it’s a lot easier not to lie when you always have food on the table, have a loving family, and security in the world. Anna and James have never had any of those. And Anna’s chance at being Karl’s bride is the closest both of them will come.
That’s Ms. Spenser’s talent. To tell a story where there are many sides, and much growing for the characters to do. As I read this story, I hoped that Karl could get past the huge lie that Anna told, and understand why she did it. I wanted the burgeoning love between them to be enough to make their marriage bond unbreakable.
I loved the descriptions of the natural world, and the everyday life in the Minnesota wilderness. Karl was a tried and true woodsman, and a very skilled carpenter. There wasn’t a type of wood he didn’t know intimately. I learned about which wood makes the best type of furniture, what is suitable for building houses, or even making an axe handle. I loved his patience with greenhorns Anna and James. How he opened his house and his heart to them, and not without reservations or sacrifice. Even though Karl was a good man, he had his shares of flaws. That made him even the better as a hero, because he was accessible. And the joy was in seeing him come to realize that although Anna wasn’t quite the perfect wife he envisioned, she was the wife he treasured and loved, and she made his home truly a home. As for Anna, my heart went out to her and James for their troubled childhood, and for the sacrifice she made for her brother, that could have destroyed her future with Karl. She wanted to do the right thing, but always seemed to fall short. And it must have been tough being married to a ‘saint’ and failing to measure up to his perfect image of womanhood.
Karl and Anna have some first-married growing pains to get through, but love does conquer all, at least in the romantic world, which I am always happy about. With a little help along the way from sage friends like the priest who married them, and Kristen, the daughter of a Swedish family that establishes their homestead nearby. James is a great secondary character, an earnest young man who becomes like a son to Karl, and a loyal loving brother to his sister.
For me, The Endearment was a treasured reading experience. It warmed my heart, gave me a good story, and taught me a few lessons about forgiveness, understanding, and committing to what is important to you, even when it seems as though it isn’t exactly what you dreamed of. It can be even better in the end, because it’s real life, the best kind of dream come true.
Argh! I am sure I read this book, but it's all fuzzy. I read this back before something really traumatic happened to me that wiped out part of my longArgh! I am sure I read this book, but it's all fuzzy. I read this back before something really traumatic happened to me that wiped out part of my long term memory....more