Danielle The Book Huntress (Back to the Books)'s Reviews > The Endearment

The Endearment by LaVyrle Spencer
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Dec 06, 2009

it was amazing
bookshelves: virgin-hero, deceived, mail-order-bride-or-groom, historical-romance, read-the-season-primavera, non-virginal-historical-heroine, married-couple-romance, frontier, set-in-minnesota, hero-i-loved, heroine-i-loved, favorites, owned-copy, nordic-character, deep-dark-secret, 19th-century, american-setting, very-tall-hero, 2011-reading
Recommended to Danielle The Book Huntress (Back to the Books) by: AAR Special Title List
Recommended for: Historical romance readers
Read from June 03 to 05, 2011 , read count: 1

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 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.

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Reading Progress

06/04/2011 page 135
38.0% "I love Karl!!"
08/15/2016 marked as: read

Comments (showing 1-32 of 32) (32 new)

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~Megan~ One of my favorites, Danielle! Hope you enjoy it!

 Danielle The Book Huntress (Back to the Books) Thanks, Megan. So far I am. I love the western/frontier romances, and they are so hard to find nowadays. Karl is adorable so far.

~Megan~ Lavyrle Spencer is one who can always tug on my heart strings. If you end up enjoying this one, you should try out her book Years...it's another of my favorites!

Dinjolina Lavyrle has a lot of lovable books really...the only one that ever bugged me was Separate Beds and even that had good writing.

 Danielle The Book Huntress (Back to the Books) I've liked most of her books, but I didn't care much for Separate Beds and the one where the heroine has two husbands (one came home after she thought he was dead). She can be very angsty!

 Danielle The Book Huntress (Back to the Books) Oh, I didn't like Spring Fancy much either.

Dinjolina I don't think I read spring fancy... :/
But the one about the woman whose cop son died and she starts dating his partner? That was good!

 Danielle The Book Huntress (Back to the Books) I didn't read the book, but the movie with Lynda Carter was really good. :)

Dinjolina There's a movie? I will have to look it up!
Cable in Serbia has a very small amount of tv movies,mostly they air Hollywood stuff and European films...
But I love Spanish films...how do Americans call it...movies with text? Nah,that British.. oh well!
Do you have a passion for movies?

 Danielle The Book Huntress (Back to the Books) Oh, I am a real movie-watcher. Books, movies, tv, music, are my big four favorite pasttimes.

Dinjolina Awwww...i love you. Wanna get married? We could have a joined library :D lol lol

Lisa Kay Lady Danielle "The Book Huntress" wrote: "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."

What a wonderful review, Lady Danielle! I remember I cried when I read this one; it really pulled my heartstrings. I could see both points of view. Your above quote is so true!

message 14: by Danielle The Book Huntress (Back to the Books) (last edited Jun 06, 2011 06:54PM) (new) - rated it 5 stars

 Danielle The Book Huntress (Back to the Books) Thanks, Lisa! LS knows how to pull those heartstrings, doesn't she?

~Megan~ Beautiful review, Danielle! You captured the essence of why this book is so special.

Annie I think it was a shame that LS retired also. She sure knew how to write. Great review!

 Danielle The Book Huntress (Back to the Books) Thanks, Annie. There is an empty space in historical romance now.

message 19: by Brylit (new)

Brylit Excellent! :) Brylit

Noelle I just LOVED this book. I thought Karl and Anna were great. Nice review!

message 23: by Tiny (new) - rated it 4 stars

Tiny Mendoza Wow! What a great review! :-D

Leona I'm about halfway through the book and am actually having a hard time reading it, which is surprising since I have loved all LS books! This just seems to be bogged down with a level of detail that is over the top! I am hoping the connection between the H/h starts soon or I will have to give up!

 Danielle The Book Huntress (Back to the Books) Don't give up just yet. It does take a while for their connection to flourish.

Leona Lady Danielle aka The Book Huntress wrote: "Don't give up just yet. It does take a while for their connection to flourish."

ok..will keep trying! thanks!

Kristen Wow! What a fantastic review. I'm sold.

 Danielle The Book Huntress (Back to the Books) Thanks, Kristen. Definitely worth reading, IMO!

message 30: by Brylit (new)

Brylit Once again, I love the review and after re-reading some of the plot lines and character descriptions I can see Jesus and salvation in it. That makes it worthwile.
Love your insights about redemption and forgiveness.
Understanding and hardworking man that the hero is makes me pine for someone like him.
Brylit :))

message 31: by Becky (new)

Becky Do yoi know any other books similar to this one? I love itď

 Danielle The Book Huntress (Back to the Books) Becky wrote: "Do yoi know any other books similar to this one? I love itď"

The Way Home
His Secondhand Wife
The Texan's Wager

Might fit the bill. :)

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