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Sentence of Marriage (Promises to Keep, #1)
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Sentence of Marriage

(Promises to Keep #1)

3.81  ·  Rating details ·  9,399 ratings  ·  790 reviews
In nineteenth century New Zealand, there are few choices for a farm girl like Amy. Her life seems mapped out for her by the time she is twelve. Amy dreams of an exciting life in the world beyond her narrow boundaries. But it is the two people who come to the farm from outside the valley who change her life forever, and Amy learns the high cost of making the wrong choice.
Kindle Edition, 415 pages
Published April 22nd 2011 (first published March 8th 2009)
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Average rating 3.81  · 
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 Mummy Cat Claire
I HATED this book. I will never read this book again as long as I live. I am sorry that I found it and read it.

Why will I never read this book again? Why did I hate it and give it four stars? Two very good questions.

I gave this book four stars because the author created characters and wrote a powerfully emotional tale that impacted me so much that it pissed me off. A book that evokes so many emotions deserves four stars, or more.

If you are looking for a book that is light and fluffy or a cute c
Nov 30, 2020 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: fiction, new-zealand
3.5 ⭐️s rounded up.
Victoria (daisyduck)
I LOVED this book! Shayne Parkinson has done a fantastic job of painting a picture of the life of a 19th century New Zealand farm girl. I found myself absolutely enchanted with the comings and goings of Amy's family within minutes of starting to read this book.
It's effectively a historical family saga, so there are highs, lows, surprises, romances, betrayals and more. Added to all of this, there are interesting insights into farm life at that time, something that I knew little about. The charac
To be honest I don't really understand why this book has so many good reviews. On the one hand, it is extremely well written, very easy to read and Shayne Parkinson paints an engaging (and historically accurate) portrait of colonial New Zealand. The characters are for the most part complex and interesting. BUT it is possibly one of the most predictable books I have ever read. I mean really. (view spoiler) ...more
Dec 24, 2012 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Sentence of Marriage is one of those books that is full of *real* life. If you're looking for a happy historical romance that brushes over the realities of life in the eighteenth century, this book is not for you. Yes, it's a sad book and the end is a bit of a depressing cliff-hangar. I have not read the four books that follow this one yet, however I want to! Despite the fact that this book is full of unhappy events, the author writes VERY well. The multitude of details she wrote into Amy, her f ...more
✨ Gramy ✨
(This was a very difficult review to write)

The author created a compelling drama, making it difficult to lay the book down for any great length of time. It was written so well, that I felt so many awful emotions exploding inside myself. You get to know the characters intimately. So i had to rate those aspects, even though the despicable parts haunt my thoughts.

This was a gut wrenching tale of manipulation and abuse, that concluded without any chance of a happy future. There was no light at the
Mar 04, 2011 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: favorites
I read this in one day and am now going back to buy the other two books in the series. It is any real reminder of the way of life in a remote rural area and the attitutes held then. The reader is so drawn in to the little family and especially to Amy, that bright little star with so much potential. It really hurts when she is so badly treated physically, mentally and emotionally. And all the time she is so concerned about the rest of her family and her baby daughter, rather than railing about he ...more
Aug 13, 2011 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: 2011
This book really got me hooked, I love those "coming of age" books, and this one got my attention especially because it's set in New Zealand during the Victorian period, and I'm a sucker for books set in this period of time and to top it off its a family saga, so once I started reading I just couldn't put it down.
One of the most enjoyable things about reading this book was not knowing what was going to happen next although some things are quite predictable, basically it's the story of Amy a farm
Gayla Johnston
Nov 22, 2011 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I got this book because it was free on my Nook. I zoomed through it. I read a lot of reviews about it and there were so many that said they didn't like it because they couldn't understand why Amy would allow things to happen to herself. That was not the way I perceived it at all. This is how things were in that time period! Women were treated differently and the way of life was much different back then. I think all 4 of the books in this series were great. I hate history, but I read all the book ...more
Genette Britton
Mar 31, 2015 rated it did not like it
Never again

Never before have I read a book that for the entire book brought you up to the final wonderful ending you were awaiting and then just quit left you hanging and told yo u to buy book two!!! As long as I live I will never buy or read another of Shayne Parkinson's books!!!, I
set,up late to read the FINISH to this one to be left hanging just so she could be assured of selling her next book. How can I RATE A BOOK THAT WAS NEVER FINISHED. I have to give it an X as I would any unfinished pie
Sep 05, 2011 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
This book was no fairytale ending. I laughed and cried. I think this book was one of the most depressing books I read in a long time. I couldn't even talk about the book to my husband without crying. I felt so sorry for Amy and all the struggles she endured. She is a much stronger person than I am. I don't want to give away to much of the book, so I wont go into detail. But I can't stand how naive Amy's father is and common sense seems to be out the window with that man. The frustrating part is ...more
I didn't like the book. It was well written, but not the kind of book I like to read. It's the first in a series of 3 or 4 books. It reminds me of a Danielle Steele novel where horrible things keep happening to the main character until finally at the end of her life, the main character finds some happiness. Well, happiness doesn't come at the end of book 1. I read the reviews of book 2 and 3 and it seems like maybe things work out for the main character by the end. Who knows? I don't want to inv ...more
May 07, 2014 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
This review is not just for Sentence of Marriage, which is the first book in Promises to Keep. I just finished the 3rd book, the ending of a long story started in Sentence of Marriage. Shayne Parkinson's decision to publish one long novel in three parts has angered some reviewers, who feel cheated when the first two books end on nail-biting cliff hangers and they feel compelled to buy another book to find out what happens next.

Compelled to buy another book. That alone tells you a great deal abou
Sue Woodruff
Nov 10, 2014 rated it it was amazing
Sentence of Marriage was a very engaging read. The setting is a family farm in late 19th century New Zealand. The story begins with the family of a father, two older sons, and a daughter aged 12. Her mother had died when Amy, the main character and daughter, was only three. Amy has taken on most of the duties of the woman of the house at the time. She wanted to be a teacher, but because of circumstances she was not allowed to pursue that dream. Her father and brothers depended on
May 17, 2011 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: own-digital
I got this free from Amazon, and it was not the light historical romance I was expecting. In fact, it was not at all the kind of book I would have read if I had known more about it. I like my comfort reading with a tidy happily-ever-after for all involved, which did not happen here.

That being said, this was an extremely compelling book. It was well-written, hard to put down or stop thinking about, and very easy to get lost in. I loved the descriptions of late 19th, early 20th century farm life,
Aug 08, 2012 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
There really isn't too many shelves for me to tag this book in. This isn't really a romance at all,at least not this first book. I guess it's more of a family saga.

Amy is 13 when the story starts. She lives on a farm with her father and two brothers in New Zeland and in the 1800's there really isn't much for a girl to do other than help take care of her family until she gets married. When her father returns from a trip to Auckland he brings home a new wife.......a nasty piece of work that goes
Laurie Boltin
Mar 07, 2011 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I have to admit that I was a little hesitant to read this book, but I LOVED it! I downloaded it FREE at Barnes and Noble for my Nook. It is a wonderful story that focuses on the life of a young girl named Amy growing up in the late 1800's. We see glimpses of farm life back then and how families lived, plus we get the pleasure of interacting with Amy and her family, including a new stepmother (who is quite the character you love to hate) and her first love.

I had no idea it was a trilogy but I im
Catherine Condie
Shayne Parkinson's writing draws you into a world you wish you were a part of. Sentence of Marriage is just the most beautifully written journey into nineteenth century New Zealand history. Amy led me into a tapestry of situations, exhibiting her dilemmas in life and in love. Evocative and compelling, I was truly struck by the fullness of the descriptions and the strength of Amy's voice. This is a wonderful series of books, and I put Shayne Parkinson side by side with L M Montgomery. ...more
George Hamilton
It took me a while to get into Sentence of Marriage, but I'm so glad I kept going, until I just had to find out what happened to the main character, Amy.

At the start of this family saga, Amy's father surprises her and her two brothers by returning home from a trip to Auckland with a new wife. Her step-mother Susannah, who is from a pampered background, has great difficulty adapting to her new role as a farmer’s wife in the remote countryside. This leaves the teenaged Amy still having to do most
I love this sort of book. Grim, gritty books where nothing happens but everything happens. When I tried to explain this sort of book to the child, he said "well, what's the plot?" and I said "well, there really *is* no plot, it's just life!" and that's what it is. Historical life in New Zealand in the early 1800s. So, figure you're going to be reading about farming, about washing clothes in a tub (and hauling water from the creek to do so), about birthing at home and losing babies (and blood) wh ...more
May 13, 2012 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
I received the first book in the Promises to Keep series as a free book for my Amazon Kindle. I will admit that I had a very difficult time reading this book. Many times, the subject matter was so horrific and abusive(IMO) that I had to put the book down, walk away and come back to it later when I could get my emotions back under control.

This book is not for the faint of heart. While it is definitely a work of fiction, it deals with many of the real life struggles that women had to deal with and
May 24, 2011 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
This is the first free Kindle book (out of dozens) to which I have purchased the sequels. I couldn’t stop reading them. The Promises to Keep series is extremely well-written. The historical content is well-researched, the characters are very well-developed and even though the books are long and detailed, I found every detail interesting.

The main downside, as others have mentioned, is that there is no happy ending. The first three books in this series run together. They each end at a natural stop
Shirley Ford
Feb 25, 2013 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
I gave this book 5* It was unputdownable!

This was a free e-book, downloaded as a recommend. It is the story of a young girl living on a farm in New Zealand in the 1800s. Having lost her mother and then her grandmother, who taught all she knew, she takes care of her father and two brothers and runs the house as if it is her own. It is a hard life for all of them, but they seem happy. Her life changes for the worse when her father remarries and brings home his young fashionable wife, who dislikes
Barb Bittel
Nov 21, 2017 rated it liked it
Shayne Parkinson's descriptions are vivid, her writing is an accurate portrayal of customs and beliefs in a 19th century rural community. But the characters and the plot, while interesting, were a bit too predictable.
I have to admit that I skimmed over that last third of the novel when it became apparent that the "marriage" part wasn't going to happen until the end. I like endings that leave the reader hanging, so I wasn't upset by that as some reviewers were.
I read this novel because I was tol
Pamela Kelley
Jan 25, 2013 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
This author's writing blew me away. These are historical sagas that read like page-turners and how she manages that when discussing mundane things like milking cows is what is so amazing. That said, there is a fair amount of darkness to this series and I'd caution anyone who is sensitive to domestic violence that it is a strong focus. It's dealt with very well, but although this is a warmly written book, it's not warm and fuzzy, there are lots of prickly bits. But the overall story and writing i ...more
Jan 27, 2014 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
This book is about a young farm girl Amy growing up in the 1800's in New Zealand,who having already lost her mother and grandmother is expected to take on the housekeeping and cooking for her father and two elder brothers. When her father brings home a surprise and much younger bride , everyone's lives are forever changed especially hers, and not necessarily for the better. This is a really well written book full of characters you will love to hate, and a cliffhanger ending that makes it hard to ...more
Jan 12, 2015 rated it it was amazing
This 4 book serial held me spellbound this week. I couldn't stop reading and I'm sorry it ended. I have rarely purchased sequels for my Kindle, but after reading the first free volume, there was no stopping. Excellent character development, suspense without major crime scenarios, true to life living situations, and great historical context made this series a fantastic read. I won't rehash the story, except to say that Amy's life held my interest. ...more
Dec 27, 2011 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
I was so surprised by this book. I am giving it 5 stars because it played out in my head like a movie and I fell in love with Amy. It was hard to see her go through so much, but she was such a strong young girl. And even though I knew where the book was headed, it was still done so very well. I've already downloaded the 2nd book in the series. ...more
May 28, 2017 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: favorites
I quickly became completely engrossed in this well-written, coming of age story of a New Zealand farm girl and her family. Poor Amy suffers more than her share of struggles, and I so want to see her find happiness, so I will have to purchase books 2 & 3 from the Kindle store, as they sucked me in by offering this first installment free! Good marketing strategy. :-)
Jennifer Raatz
May 04, 2015 rated it it was amazing

I could not put this book down! I read it straight through. I can't wait to buy the other books to find out what happens to Amy.
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I write historical novels set in New Zealand, starting in the 1880s. My sixth book, "After the Roses", takes the series to 1924. I'm fascinated by social history, particularly that of my own country. I was born in New Zealand, and apart from two years in England have lived here all my life. I'm married to my childhood sweetheart, who grew up in the farming valley that's the inspiration for my imag ...more

Other books in the series

Promises to Keep (4 books)
  • Mud and Gold (Promises to Keep, #2)
  • Settling the Account (Promises to Keep, #3)
  • A Second Chance (Promises to Keep, #4)

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“Aren’t you scared of him?’ Amy asked, slumping down and trying to make herself inconspicuous. ‘He always looks so fierce. Don’t you remember that time he nearly caught us on his land? I was sure he’d give us a beating if he’d got hold of us.’ ‘Humph! My pa would have had something to say to him if he had.’ ‘That wouldn’t have been much comfort.’ ‘Yes, it would. Anyway, who’d be scared of him—sour old man like that.’ Lizzie dismissed Charlie Stewart with a wave of her hand.” 1 likes
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