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The Heart's Spring #2

Bleeding Heart

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Five bleeding hearts. One profound journey.

Summer 1886

Sally Clay’s livelihood has been snatched away, but in its place arises an opportunity to escape from her sordid past and an unrelenting, unwanted suitor. Boarding a train with a heartsick rancher and an enigmatic miner, she leaves Virginia City behind and heads to Northern California, waiting for the chance to make right what went wrong three long years before.

But the road to revenge is far from smooth. Sally soon learns that the jagged pieces of a broken heart can far too easily wound the hearts of others – and hers isn’t the only heart that’s broken. Tragedy and fear dog her steps as she flees from the redwood forests to the high desert and back again. Will her bleeding heart ever find a way and a place to heal?

A desperate soiled dove. Three men who come to care for her. One man determined to claim her.

All on a journey that will show them what true love really involves.

Inspirational Historical Romance

212 pages, Kindle Edition

First published July 1, 2013

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About the author

Amber Stokes

7 books192 followers
Amber Holcomb (Stokes) is a freelance editor and indie author who lives in eastern Washington with her adventurous husband. Previously, she worked in marketing for a Christian publisher for nearly three years. Her passion for books compelled her to earn a bachelor's degree in English and now fuels her work with words in this new season of life.

Where Trains Collide, While You're Awake, How a Star Falls, Forget Me Not, Bleeding Heart, and Bellflower are available for purchase on Amazon.

You can get a glimpse of the characters & settings of Amber's books on Pinterest: Where Trains Collide, While You're Awake, How a Star Falls, Bellflower, Forget Me Not, Bleeding Heart, Fairy Slippers, and Morning Glory.

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5 stars
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Displaying 1 - 30 of 44 reviews
September 27, 2013
My Rating: 4.5 stars

Bleeding Heart is Amber Stokes debut novel. And what a great debut it was! I've said this to Amber before, but I will say it again. She has a beautiful way with words. She's able to clearly express what she is trying to say in a simple way that draws you in. For me, her writing voice is gentle, understanding, sweet, and genuine. I admire her for her great writing ability and love that she's sharing her wonderful talent with us all!

Bleeding Heart is not your typical feel-good romance novel. Much like life, it was an unpredictable journey for each of these characters. It had its share of heartwarming moments along with heart wrenching ones. Sally, Joe, Myghal, and Seth each have a painful past they can't seem to break free from. Along the journey they find themselves on, these characters become close and stick together as they face all the pain and hurt that comes their way. By the end I felt emotionally invested and attached to each one of them for different reasons. I felt like I was there in their lowest point, and was with them as they were rising up from the pit.

As you can imagine, this was such an emotional roller coaster for me. There were moments that had me smiling and laughing. And then there were times when I couldn't believe what had just happened. I went back and reread certain parts because I thought I read wrong. I literally had to set my Kindle down and take in what I just read. I thought Amber did such a great job with those kinds of scenes. She didn't dwell on them for too long, but she still gave the characters, and readers, time to grieve.

My favorite character, and someone I hope we see more of, is Myghal. He was so sweet and had a great sense of humor. Even though he was hurting inside, he didn't let it show. He was always there when the other characters were in need and I loved that about him.

Amber captured so much raw emotion in this story. This novel was definitely darker than I had expected, but that's not a bad thing. Even though there's a lot of pain throughout the story, we still feel a sense of hope for Sally and the others in the end. I really liked the historical aspects and the perfect amount of suspense thrown in. Bleeding Heart was a beautiful debut and I can't wait to read more!
Profile Image for Melanie.
1,974 reviews552 followers
August 7, 2013
4.5 stars

Bleeding Heart is Amber Stokes' debut novel, so I had no idea what to expect, but, since the description sounded good, I thought I might like it. Well, I ended up really enjoying the book and am so glad I read it!

Bleeding Heart was a fairly short and quick read, but, let me tell you, it was emotional and unpredictable. There were a couple times I was completely shocked by something that happened and I loved the suspense thrown into this historical novel.

I really felt for the characters - Sally, especially, but also Joe, Myghal, and Seth. There were some very sad scenes in Bleeding Heart and, I'll admit, I got a little teary-eyed/emotional.

Overall, Bleeding Heart was a wonderful historical read! I'm hoping Amber writes future books with these characters. I recommend this book if you enjoy historical novels, but, be warned, this isn't a "light" read.

*I received an ARC eBook copy of this book from the author for my honest review. I was not required to give a positive review, only my honest opinion - which I've done. All thoughts and opinions expressed are my own.*
Profile Image for Charity.
Author 25 books115 followers
July 28, 2013
Westerns and Christian romances aren't my usual choice in literature, but this was so intriguing I had a hard time putting it down. I read most of it in one night and the last four chapters the next morning. It's the story of a former lady of the night and her journey toward freedom from a possessive would-be-husband, as well as her redemption (of a sort), and the interaction she has with the good men in her life. My only complaint is three of the men's names start with J -- I had a little trouble keeping them straight.
102 reviews5 followers
October 12, 2013
I wanted to like this book more, but found it unrealistic in that she was so beautiful and great everyone was in love with her. One man is perusing her as an object to possess, willing to lose all he possesses to get her. One man wants to protect her and goes back and forth between resentment and love. One man loves her but realizes she is more suited for another. Finally she ends up with one who she can be happy. The storyline is fine and the writing is good. I just wish there weren't five different love interests involved. Seems a stretch especially over such a short span of time.
Profile Image for Lilian80.
72 reviews3 followers
July 9, 2022
The first book from this author and I did not like it. We have a heroine who is a beautiful, sassy and charming prostitute who is at the same time innocent! That is all know about her in this book and then we have four (or three if we do not count the one who is obsessed with her) men who fall in love with her in a very short time and we never know why. It seems they are all under some kind of a spell and follow her without knowing why. Their feelings are all changing constantly between friendship, love and resentment. I had a feeling the author made up her mind about the story and characters along the way….
Profile Image for Beka.
Author 34 books58 followers
July 5, 2013
Bleeding Heart by Amber Stokes is self-published. There is a huge stereotype against self-published works, but I want to go out there and say that Bleeding Heart's writing outshines many traditionally-published books in the world. Amber is a master of her craft, and each beautifully-worded sentence shows how much time and effort she has put into her novel. I loved her careful, vivid descriptions of the wild natural beauty of the setting, and how her characters related to it.

One thing I particularly loved was how she sprinkled allusions to actual historical events and people throughout the book. She didn't explain them, but left it to the readers to research it and discover for themselves. This book was told through the eyes of people who lived in that time; and realistically, what's history to us was life to them. Would they, in their thoughts, replay certain events that they would already know by heart and which would be as day-to-day to them as taking a shower is to us? So I enjoyed Amber's challenge to her readers to go out and explore history for themselves through the dropping of interesting names and hints at certain events.

Another aspect that was well done was the curve away from the usual historical romance novel in the Christian market. Many of those are humorous and lack any thought-provoking events. There are sweet moments in this novel, but it is definitely darker and more for those who realize and understand that life isn't one big cupcake. Christians love and lose and doubt. I can't tell you how many times I've wondered in real life why God would 'allow' a good Christian man to be ripped away from his wife, or a little girl to be murdered.

These characters struggle with real-life challenges; and, while not necessarily finding answers, they find some sort of peace. And it is this peace that is integral to a relationship with God--the knowledge that, no matter what insanity happens here on earth, no matter how much injustice is done, "it is well with my soul". Because, as Amber shows in this novel, the one thing evil cannot rip away from you without your letting it is the condition of your soul.

This book ripped my heart to shreds for its characters, and sewed it up again. Certain ones I loved more than others, such as the immigrant Myghal and the quiet cook, Zachary Taylor. (Amber, PLEASE let them have their own stories!!!) At times I felt I knew them, and at others, I realized how little I knew them at all. While in other books this might be a cause to accuse the author of character inconsistency, one of the themes in this story is how little the characters know about EACH OTHER. They make assumptions and are surprised when they turn out wrong. As we, the readers, get into the heads of almost all the characters, why wouldn't their assumptions become our own, and therefore, their surprise as well?

However, this novel is very short, clocking in at just over 50,000 words, according to Amber's website. While the story is self-containing, there were times when huge time-skips of several months would go by. This did not allow for a lot of relationship-building in regards to the romance; everything went fairly quickly, at least in terms of reading it. I would have enjoyed more tender moments for me to become accustomed to the relationship that happens by the end of the book. As well, I think adding another couple-thousand words would have given readers the chance to dig even deeper into the heads of the characters and connect with them. I would have liked more time with Myghal and Zachary Taylor and Sally and Seth and Joe and even Rufus, who turned out to be quite the conflicting villain himself. I wanted to know MORE about them, to know all their likes and dislikes, outside of how they felt about love and heartbreak.

As well, in the copy I read, there were a few typos, and a mention of an "Annabelle" that Sally supposedly met and who was important to her, but whom I don't remember. Perhaps someone from an earlier draft?

All that being said, if you're looking for a fresh, original historical novel to sink your mind into, go for Bleeding Heart. If you're looking for a book that will make you think and ponder and cry and stare at your ceiling and think some more, get your hands on Bleeding Heart. And then promptly join me in a rally to get Amber to write more about Myghal and Zachary!

Four Stars!

I received a free review copy from the author in exchange for an honest review. Thanks for the opportunity, Amber, and best wishes on many successful novels to come!
Profile Image for Rissi.
426 reviews9 followers
August 19, 2013
Over the years, self-publishing has had a stigma attached to it. Why, I know not – in the past six months I, as an avid reader have turned pages on a handful of self-published novels, and have found each one to be worth the paper on which they were printed. This one is different since it is authored by a lovely writer whom I have been honored to get to know certainly as an encouraging blogging buddy and as a friend. Amber sets her story in Oregon in the early 1800’s and on top of a setting she is passionate about (and researched), she also crafted a hard-hitting novel involving characters that are broken in unusual ways – imperfect beyond the “normal” character flaws readers usually encounter.

Like any good author, Amber cares about her characters – from its five titular characters to a big-hearted cook in a logging camp, no one is forgotten. In Sally, we meet a woman who didn’t think she was worthy of a good life or pure love, and we sorrow with her over the anguish she experiences. Sally is ultimately who the story revolves around; she represents a pinnacle of what forgiveness in love means in the most tender way – not just by her being her own worst critic, also from her peers and in the most heartbreaking, unpredictable ways (in Joe’s acceptance and protection if not love, and Myghal’s secreted ardor) but from God. This is one of the driving points that ties into the epilogue, one that is comfortable and sunny – something that means more because of the journey. Perhaps the most interesting parts of the book is first, that each of the characters are broken after being ill-used by someone they thought trustworthy, and secondly the unexpected elements that take the story in unusual places.

In particular, all of the souls in need of forgiveness was thought-provoking as authors don’t usually tackle this much anger or sorrow in one group of characters; a story may deal with emotional fallout in “big” ways, not the characters themselves though who generally feature at least one character who is at peace with their past. There is one of these “bleeding hearts” who haven’t been trampled on by love; their hearts have been shattered – and still are! – and each is reacting differently in their present. Addressing the elements that will undoubtedly take a reader by surprise, let me just say – wow! There was one pivotal event that I never expected. The author handled it expertly well and used it to the stories advantage instead of letting it drag down what was a compelling plot.

Even though I cannot say that the setting was a favorite or that everything “clicked” (the mood swings of the villain or the “convenient” emotional fallout in the aftermath of a death of a character we never meet), I can say that Bleeding Heart was a sincerely poignant and purposeful story. In this book, any avid history buff will find a western treasure; the “voice” is profoundly genuine and unique, and is not a book you want miss out on journeying through - it's one I know will find a permanent place on my shelf, virtual and actual. Bleeding Heart is not just a “pretty face,” it has a picturesque realism – just be prepared, you may need a tissue or two!

Find the review in full elsewhere:

Amazon :: Blogger :: Wordpress

Sincere thanks to the author for providing an e-ARC complimentary copy of this book for reviewing purposes.

© Copyright 2011-2013 Dreaming Under the Same Moon / Scribbles, Scripts and Such
Profile Image for Kara.
606 reviews67 followers
March 29, 2016
I was quite impressed with Ms. Stokes' writing. Especially for a first novel! :) The descriptions of the way people lived during the late 1800s drew me in and felt well researched. I could easily picture what was going on and where people were. Life was hard back then. It hasn't been kind to most of these characters really. And their individual and collective journey's will take them all to places they had never imagined.

With heartbreak and pain, this is not a happy, sunshiney story. These characters have to endure a great deal to reach any semblance of a happy ending. And even then, I'm not sure I would call it a typical "happy ending" because while there's certainly happiness there (yay!), there is still heartache to get beyond. I had the sense that these characters had lots more hard work ahead, but it would be worth it for them. And those two lovebirds were awful cute with one another! At least once they got their act together and realized how they felt. But I should note it doesn't truly develop until close to the end. And much of the development is left up to your imagination.

I also thought the point of view changes worked pretty well. The reader gets just enough perspective to make them understand why this or that character is acting this way. As for the characters themselves....

Joe and Sally circle one another, by turns tender and harsh. Sally has become pretty bitter and skittish; she longs to be loved, yet doesn't really know what to do with it when it shows up. Joe is confused and raw, yet desires love deep inside even while he refuses to admit to it. Myghal steals your heart with his gentleness and sweetness, yet hides a hurt within. Zachary uses gruffness to try and hide his kind and gentle ways. Seth's grief almost drags him down until he gets a wake up call that shakes him out of his stupor. As for the main antagonist, he doesn't deserve to be talked about! At all. In short, the characters are where Ms. Stokes' writing shines! They feel real and leap off the page, drawing you into caring about them.

I do have to admit that portions of the story moved a little fast for me. The characters travel around quite a bit, and just when I'd get settled into where they were now, they up and left again. This caused me to be unable to stay emotionally involved the whole time. One particular plotline ended so quickly, then we get a time jump immediately after. I wished that character had gotten a little better closure than they ended up with. For the amount of time spent with them prior to that scene, it felt cut short a little too abruptly for me. (I was reading an ARC, so maybe this has been changed in the final edits.) The other thing I wanted more of was Myghal! I loved him immediately and want more details about him! I'm hoping we'll get more of his story some day in the future. He so deserves more page time. He was definitely my favorite character. Well, maybe that title should be split between him and Zachary. I liked Zachary a lot too! ;)

So. While there were a few rough parts, overall the writing shines and made me fall in love with it! It convinced me to look forward to what she may write in the future. I've a very good feeling she'll only get better with time! :D I definitely recommend this book. It deserves to be read and enjoyed!

**I received a complimentary e-ARC from the author in exchange for my honest review.
Profile Image for Alyssa.
570 reviews194 followers
February 5, 2015
[About the Book]

Five bleeding hearts. One profound journey.

Summer 1886

Sally Clay’s livelihood has been snatched away, but in its place arises an opportunity to escape from her sordid past and an unrelenting, unwanted suitor. Boarding a train with a heartsick rancher and an enigmatic miner, she leaves Virginia City behind and heads to Northern California, waiting for the chance to make right what went wrong three long years before.

But the road to revenge is far from smooth. Sally soon learns that the jagged pieces of a broken heart can far too easily wound the hearts of others – and hers isn’t the only heart that’s broken. Tragedy and fear dog her steps as she flees from the redwood forests to the high desert and back again. Will her bleeding heart ever find a way and a place to heal?

A desperate soiled dove. Three men who come to care for her. One man determined to claim her.

All on a journey that will show them what true love really involves.


Bleeding Heart is categorized as Historical Inspirational Romance which is mostly what I read in the first place anyway, but this isn't your grandmother's romance novel. Bleeding Heart delves into a world dealing with tragedy, death, love, anger, and forgiveness. I don't know about you, but I don't normally find all of these things together in a historical romance novel. Honestly, it was a refreshing read. A lot different from the novels I normally gravitate towards. Bleeding Heart actually reminds me of the Little House on the Prairie books and television show. The Little House series, novels and television, also dealt with issues that Bleeding Heart does and more. Which is a reason why I fell in love with this story, it deals with real issues that we all have to go through at one time or another. Bleeding Heart is for those who enjoy a light romance, all history buffs out there who enjoy a good western, and for Little House on the Prairie fans.
Profile Image for Renee.
792 reviews
August 22, 2013
Never have I encountered a romance with a twist like that of Bleeding Heart! If her upcoming novels are as exciting and drama-filled as her debut, Amber Stokes will have no trouble gaining permanent and devoted fans. Much like a Heartsong Presents novel, Bleeding Heart has everything that makes a great story -- setting, plot twists, and great characters all in a short, quick bite.

From just a few short chapters, a few characters stood out as favorites, those being Sally, the heroine and her friend Cornish miner, Myghal. Obviously we learn what happens to Sally, and I have to say a few things are certainly gut-wrenching, but Myghal's story is left open and I for one want to know more of what's in store for my latest book crush! Sally is a bit on the naive side for a woman who has had to live on her own for 3 years but she is by no means TSTL or unlikeable. Joe, Seth, and of course Myghal are what you'd expect to see in a novel of the Old West -- a bit like the Cartwrights of TV's Bonanza, tough, loyal, and chivalrous to a fault!

When all is said and done, Bleeding Heart is a good debut. This story definitely went above and beyond my already high expectations for it. Anytime I read almost the entire book in a sitting without even realizing it's WAY past my bedtime, well, that's a good thing! I think it's worth the $2.99 if you are a fan of western romances.

~ My Rating: 4 out of 5 stars ~

*I received a complimentary copy of this book for review from the publisher. I was not required to write a positive review. The opinions I have expressed are my own. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission's 16 CFR, Part 255.*
Profile Image for Julie Graves.
897 reviews27 followers
July 29, 2013
Desperate to escape the life that she has been living, Sally Clay swallows her pride and begs Joe and his friend Myghal to take her with them wherever they are going. Having been rejected by a man she thought loved her Sally had been forced to support herself in a brothel. Sally knows the only man that will ever want her now is a man she must escape at all cost.

Having lost the woman he loved to another man Joe plans on heading to California to find work in a logging camp. When he agrees to allow Sally to travel with them he has no intention of allowing his heart to be broken by another woman.

Sally is determined to find her lost love and make him pay for abandoning her. Once more when her heart is broken Sally turns to Joe and Myghal to help her through her loss. Will their mutual bleeding hearts find the love they so long to have in this life?

Bleeding Heart is definitely not a light and fluffy romance. Its characters are filled with deeply hurting hearts and suspense is woven throughout the pages. I couldn’t help but become invested in each character. Amber has a way of writing that drew me into the story and had me turning pages until the very end. I think my favorite character may have been Myghal. I would definitely love to read his story in future and find out about his past and continuing story after Bleeding Heart.
Profile Image for Grace Mullins.
Author 2 books79 followers
August 31, 2013
One word to describe this story is beautiful. The imperfect characters with their flaws are realistic, and their tale touched me. Sweetness, sadness, heartbreak, and redemption are things you can find in this book.

I am not aware of ever before reading a Self Published Book, so I cannot compare it to other ones, but "Bleeding Heart" is a worthwhile read, especially if you are looking for something other than a story filled with fluffy romance. It's different than the usual Christian Historical Romances I have read. Different can be good, and, in the case of this book, "Bleeding Heart's" uniqueness was refreshing. Even after days of reading I had this deep feeling when I thought about it.

My biggest issue with it were the time gaps, but it wasn't a huge problem.

I recommend.

Thanks to the author for a free e-ARC copy of this book in exchange for my honest review. I was not required to write a positive review.
Profile Image for Rachelle Cobb.
Author 8 books287 followers
July 26, 2013
What I Loved

I love how this story captured my heartstrings, yanked me all over the place, and still somehow settled me down at The End with this sweet little smile. Good love stories aren't always simple, and Bleeding Heart is precisely the sort of good love story I enjoy recommending to fellow readers.

Sally is real and relatable--her heartaches and pain can be felt through Amber's flawless prose. Joe is the kind of strong, steady hero Sally needs--or is he? Myghal, perceptive and kind, is a friend to them both. And then there's Seth. And the man who will stop at nothing to be able to call Sally his own.

Why I Recommend This Book

This is no feel-good summer read. This is a journey through pain and loss...to the love of a lifetime. Enjoy it at leisure. Laugh and smile and cry. This debut novel by Amber Stokes will surely make you do all three!
Profile Image for Shantelle.
Author 2 books357 followers
November 24, 2015
Bleeding Heart was a thought-provoking and heartfelt novel. It had an intenseness, with bittersweet moments, and raw feeling, that you don’t usually find in historical-romance. –A letting go, and surrendering to God, and treasuring of joyous times.

Following the lives of former-prostitute Sally Clay, brothers Joe and Seth, and loyal friend Miguel, Bleeding Heart takes us on a heart-rending journey, that ends with… what? Can bleeding hearts mend? Or is there only so much a person can take? Will wounds never heal?

With drama, heartbreak, suspense, and ultimately, joy, Bleeding Heart captured my attention, and held it to the end.

A truly deep and stirring debut novel. I greatly look forward to reading more by Amber Stokes.

Profile Image for Bluerose's  Heart.
532 reviews28 followers
August 31, 2013
This debut novel took me by surprise in many ways! It’s not your typical “light and fluffy” read from the world of Christian fiction. Don’t get me wrong. I enjoy a “light and fluffy” story just as much as the next girl, but I also enjoy being so shocked by a plot change that I have to put my book aside for a moment to register what just happened. Amber blows the “predictable” label that often comes with Christian fiction right out of the water.

Bleeding Heart is a dark story. There’s pain and heartache, but there’s also healing and forgiveness. As the title suggests, this story is the journey of five hurting people that cross paths in one way or another.

Amber writes beautifully, and I can’t wait to read what she pens next!
Profile Image for Sandra Leesmith.
Author 16 books31 followers
September 4, 2013
Bleeding Hearts is a unique and inspirational story. Amber Stokes in her debut novel captures the true flavor of the touch times in the settlement of the west. Her characters are realistic and representative of the struggles young pioneers faced in the Pacific Northwest. I love the different setting from most historical romances and I enjoyed the realism tampered by the hope and courage born of love amongst the characters. Amber did a terrific job and I look forward to more from this author.
Profile Image for Brooke Barenfanger.
Author 1 book39 followers
September 24, 2013
Sally Clay was in love once, but the man who told her he loved her just as much as she did left her. Now—three years later— on a road that comes to a fork, which way will Sally choose? The path to vengeance? Or the path to forgiveness?
Joe and Myghal want to help and protect Sally, who is bruised from the past. But they both have a past of their own to reckon with…
Which man will win Sally’s heart?
Bleeding Heart matches the plot and characters of this novel to perfection. Emotions are raw and bleeding everywhere! From poor Sally to Joe, to Myghal, to Joe’s brother, Seth. Death or the death of love seems to be happening repeatedly throughout this book. Amber Stokes is certainly not afraid to deal with emotion, which I admire. Also, each character had some sort of flaw. Sally had and Joe were evenly matched in their bull-headedness and pride! But Myghal was sweet and charming, and acted like a buffer between the two for the first part of the book before his wander lust caught up with him. There were some very pretty scenes in Bleeding Heart. I could picture Sally standing before the hills saturated with purple lupine, staring into the horizon. That was probably my favorite scene.
I kept on getting frustrated with Joe because he was obviously falling in love with the girl, but he kept using his pride and sarcasm to act as a wall so that he wouldn’t get too close to Sally. I was thankful they had Myghal there to help them along!
Amber Stokes had excellent character development. Sally, Joe, Myghal, and Seth had strengths and flaws every one of them. I even felt sorry for the villain, Rufus O’Daniel. The man’s reasoning was twisted, but he really just wanted somebody to love him. Obviously, he did not know what true love was.
There were two minor problems with Bleeding Heart that I found. Firstly, I was confused when the characters in this book kept referencing other characters named David and Elizabeth. I felt as if I had missed something somewhere. At first I thought that David was Joe’s brother but then I found out that Seth was. I found that confusing until I read the last few pages of the book and found that there was a prequel called Forget Me Not. Which I think is strange because Bleeding Heart claims to be a debut novel. Also, one more small thing ( and this is really nitpicky). I felt that the scene where Sally fainted was unrealistic. Before somebody faints they turn very, very pale. And after the person wakes up they are usually dizzy and need to sit down and drink something before they feel all right again. Sally just fainted, was out for a moment, and then revived again before walking off to do what she wanted to do.
I give Bleeding Heart 31/2 stars out of five. It was a sweet novel with realistic characters and good character development. And it’s not as predictable as I thought it was going to be either! There was one shocking scene when I just had to stare at the page for a moment and think, “Did that really just happen?” When you come to that part the answer is yes, it did.

If you want to read more of my reviews or follow me, here is my blog site: http://brookesbookblog.weebly.com/ind...

Profile Image for Amber.
1,196 reviews33 followers
August 9, 2013
Bleeding Heart by Amber Stokes is an exquisite, heartfelt story of epic love and bitter loss. You will lose your heart to the depths of emotion and the heights of pleasure that you will experience in this unforgettable journey of the beauty and misery that this world has to offer. I was mesmerized by the enduring strength despite the inherent weakness of each of the characters. The fact that they never really gave up on hope and love reinvigorated my own hope for the future.

On the day we are born, the journey of our life is laid out before our feet like a warm, inviting blanket wrapped around us. As we grow, so does our path. While we make our choices and take turns off the path, it remains steady ever pointing to its ultimate destination. Trees, hills, and mountains block our view of the end of our journey from our physical eyes, but in our heart, we know that it ends in the fulfillment of a promise. That promise is what keeps our feet walking when they should stop. It fuels the beating of our heart when this act would defy all reason. It breaths hope into our dead, lifeless souls when this world has ripped from us the best that we had to offer.

We need to realize that the hardships we may have to endure by choice or by design shape and mold us into who we were always meant to become. Without those times, we would not be able to recognize and cherish the purity of the human spirit. True friendship would wither and die from not being returned. Love would be only a word used to beguile the naive. Honesty would become a concept that was known only in ancient times. Our hearts can endure more than they should be able to, and as a result, hope can be reborn to those who need it the most. Our first instinct should be to reach out to those in need and offer shelter to those who wander the dark, cold nights. Will you be the arms of hope and allow those who are desperate for it to be hidden within it in order to heal until they are ready?

Amber Stokes is a wonderfully, talented author who deeply touched my heart with her marvelous story of pure, life affirming hope amid terrible loss and suffering. Oh, how much we need to hear messages like this one! This message needs to be shouted from the rooftops and declared to the masses that while the night might be overwhelming and blinding, the light of the rising sun will shine on us again. We just need to wait. We just need to heal. We just need to love again.
Profile Image for Miranda A. Uyeh.
Author 1 book17 followers
June 7, 2014
You’ll never understand how symbolic the cover picture is until you’ve read the book—the flowers, the white dress, the mix of emotions on Sally’s face, the valley between two hills with a dark cloud blanketing one of them like it represented doom, loss, sadness and pain, while the other had a sky with a light that appeared to have broken from the darkness representing hope and a future. And how wonderful to have Sally’s image situated right in the middle of the two hills. I thought I should share my thoughts about the book cover before talking about the book.

Bleeding heart is not a traditional love story. Amber takes us through a story with characters that are not hard to sympathize with. You see into the troubles of their heart and the mess it leaves behind, and you can’t help but empathize with their actions however unreasonable they may seem. Amber doesn’t spare us from the grief and consequences that could come with wrong choices. You fall in love with a character and experience wishful hope for them and then experience a loss that is heart-shattering. This story is as real as it gets. The loss is very real. It made me ponder and sober.

This is a very good story but not everyone will be able to accept. It is not the traditional romance, but anyone with an open heart to learn about love and forgiveness that is bourne out of tragedy and trials would enjoy this book. I commend Amber for her boldness in crafting this story.
If you’ve been following my reviews for a while, you would know by now that I’m no fan of spoilers. But as a way to prepare the hearts of readers, let me say this: this story is like a soap opera. A character would come and exit the story in due time. Again, it is not a typical romance where you predict some of the end from the beginning. In fact, I would dare say that traditional cataloguing/categorization does not do justice to this book, at least not the categories found among Christian/inspirational fiction. Bleeding heart goes way beyond romance. It is more complex in a good way. I would call it an Inspirational Drama Romance.

I loved what Sally, Seth and Myghal had to learn. Myghal’s lessons struck me the most. It wasn’t about eventually getting what you wanted. It was about finding peace and acceptance despite not having your wish granted and moving on. It was real and inspirational. Each painful experience cut and shaped the character and eventually brought out the best in them.

Overall, it was engaging start and finish.
Profile Image for Faith.
1,734 reviews
August 16, 2013
When I first started this book, I wasn't quite sure what I would think of it by the end...but I ended up loving it!

Five bleeding hearts struggle to mend despite their pasts that threaten to bind them in pain and heartache.

Bleeding Heart brings the most unlikely of characters together, each with their own hurt, broken heart, and scar, as they lean on each other to hope for a better future. The woman who brings them all together is just as unlikely...

What I liked so much about this story was how well I got to know each of the characters and what made them who they were, their heartbreaks, their sorrows.

It was definitely a riveting read as well, as I read it in less than 3 hours, and almost one sitting!

I was hard to decide who my favorite character was, but I think by the end I really liked Myghal the best, because of his faithfulness, and show of friendship of the truest kind throughout the story. He started out as a sort of back round character and then came to the forefront, and backing off again, yet he was always there when they needed him like some kind of guardian angel. If Bleeding Heart has a sequel in the works I definitely vote that it be Myghal's story.

Sally was a good heroine, in that she had a touch exterior, but proved to be fragile and in need of true friends. When the book first started I didn't know if I would like her or not, but she grew on me by miles, and by the end I thought she was fantastic.

Overall, a well written tale, that is not so much a romance, but a story of friendship and how God can mend our broken hearts. The end part was just amazing, I could not tear my eyes from the page until I read the words "The End" definitely a book well worth the read! Highly recommend!

Disclosure of Material Connection: I received one or more of the products or services mentioned above for free in the hope that I would mention it on my blog. Regardless, I only recommend products or services I use personally and believe will be good for my readers. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission's 16 CFR, Part 255: "Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and testimonials in Advertising."

Thank you so much, Amber!
Profile Image for Rambling Readers.
149 reviews
August 26, 2013
Reading a novel by a new author is always an exciting prospect. Sometimes the excitement fades and disappointment sets in; other times the pages reveal a fresh voice full of promise. "Bleeding Heart" is a promising debut, and Amber Stokes treats readers to a poignant tale of heartache and healing. As the title and synopsis suggest, broken hearts are the central focus, so this is not a traditional light-hearted romance. The plot is unpredictable, and Stokes takes risks by incorporating some tragic events that will leave readers emotionally shaken. Five battered characters make a heavy load for one novel to carry, but "Bleeding Heart" is successful. Stokes intersects the lives of each character in a story centering around Sally Clay, while giving each individual a unique source of pain and different ways of coping.

The ending of "Bleeding Heart" is more hopeful than completely happy. Hope balances the pain that is present in the novel. Sally, in particular, represents healing and forgiveness. Although her story is sad, it is ultimately uplifting. Stokes depicts two kinds of bleeding hearts throughout her novel, both a human's broken heart and the actual flower. She shows readers that hearts can become darkened and bitter, but those hearts that allow love to heal them can become as beautiful as a bleeding heart's blossom. The cover captures the overall essence of "Bleeding Heart" - the peace and beauty that arise when a heart heals from devastating wounds.

Although the subject matter of "Bleeding Heart" is heavy, I did not feel burdened by it. The novel is an engaging and worthwhile read that reminds me of Alison Pittman's "Crossroads of Grace" series in the non-formulaic plot and the portrayal of soiled doves on the road to redemption. Amber Stokes shows undeniable talent for crafting a touching and memorable story, and I hope that "Bleeding Heart" is just the beginning of many more novels.

I received a complimentary ARC copy of this book from Amber Stokes. I was not required to write a positive review. The opinions expressed above are my own.
Profile Image for Michelle Griep.
Author 36 books2,037 followers
August 29, 2013
Looking for an Old West action-packed story? Have I found a book for you! Bleeding Heart is a rootin-tootin-shootin’ debut novel by Amber Stokes. There’s plenty of romance, the requisite gunfight and hanging, a marshal, saloons and yes, even a train ride.

The story takes place shortly after the Civil War. Heroine Sally Clay is desperate to leave behind her life in a brothel to chase after the man she loves. The thing is…the fella doesn’t really love her. It’s one mishap and adventure after another, keeping the reader in suspense of who Sally will end up with. Just when you think you’ve got it figured out, wham! Yet another plot twist. I won’t give you a spoiler, but doggone if there was one surprise I totally did not see coming.

Sally is painfully aware of her sordid past, creating a very realistic guilt that makes her a believable character. She’s also impetuous, making bad decisions without even thinking about the consequences. Everywhere Sally looks for safety and love, she doesn’t find it.

The villain is someone you love to hate, although I’m not quite sure what his motivation is to have Sally for his own, other than perhaps he hates not getting his way. Basically, he’s a creepy stalker.

Love the sidekick Myghal. Full of good advice, solid, dependable. You’ll root for him, cry for him, and close the book with an immense amount of compassion for this character.

I thought I could trust the cook, Zachary Taylor, but then I wasn’t certain…turns out, well, you don’t really want me to tell you, do you?

Overall, this is a good summer read. There’s a big jump between part I and II, one I didn’t expect. I would’ve liked to see the action played out, though that would’ve made this a much longer book. Bleeding Heart has a whole lot of broken hearts all over the place, except for the reader’s—a solid debut novel for Amber Stokes.
Profile Image for Emily.
560 reviews39 followers
November 25, 2015
Bleeding Heart by Amber Stokes is the tale of Sally Clay. She chased after her love, Jack, only to be left in the dust with no way back home. Thus, the innocent young girl became a soiled dove—a tavern girl. But there is hope for love yet. She sets off to find Jack again, with the help of Myghal and Joe. But will redemption ever come? Will broken hearts ever be healed? And will she find new love with one of her companions?

I thoroughly enjoyed this book! There were so many ups and downs I could never figure out what would happen next! There was romance, danger, and so very many broken hearts that needed healing. It was also an excellent portrayal of the old west—the mining, logging, and railroads, as well as the ups and downs of living in the old west.

My only complaints would be the names. There were so many people’s names introduced in the very beginning that I could not keep track of who was who. I knew who the main characters and villains were, but the other names that only appeared in the main characters’ backstories were confusing. Also, at the beginning, I could not figure out where they were or where they were going! Eventually, I discovered that the Virginia City in the book was in Nevada, not Virginia as I had originally thought. If I had known that at the beginning, it would not have been so confusing! However, by the end of the book, all these problems were resolved completely. I would only have appreciated more clarity at the beginning.

Over all, though, Bleeding Hearts was an excellent book! I definitely recommend it!

Things you should know: The main character is a prostitute, but there is absolutely no sex in the book. The villain lusts after Sally so much that he has to have her. Because of this, there is a little violence.
Profile Image for Miranda Atchley.
Author 13 books44 followers
November 27, 2016
Sally Clay is a soiled dove. After leaving her home in Missouri only to have her heart broken by Jack Harvel, she's been working in a brothel. Yet after three years, she's through with the sordid life she finds herself in, and hearing that Jack is working in the redwoods of Oregon, she sets off to find him and make him see what he caused her to do, with Joe Clifton and Myghal and tagging along. Joe's heart is still broken after Elizabeth broke off their engagement and married David. He finds that he has feelings for Sally, but he's reluctant to act upon them. Myghal is also smitten with the blonde whose blue eyes flash with fire. And the wealthy Rufus O'Daniel isn't taking kindly to Sally turning down his proposal. When Sally finds that Jack is married, she's devastated. In haste, she marries Joe and they go back to his home in Virginia City, where even more heartache lies for them.

I must admit, I liked this story just a tad better than Forget Me Not, though I wasn't expecting to. There's a lot going on in this book, but it all ties together very well in ways you wouldn't expect. And The Thing that happens around the half-way mark- oh my goodness! I was not expecting that.

I liked Sally, though I wasn't expecting to. One feels sorry for her as her story unfolds, but she's strong and there's a fire inside of her that has kept her going through all that she's been through. I was glad to see her have a happy ending after all that happened to her.

All in all, this was another good story from Amber Stokes that fans of historical romance will surely enjoy.

I give this book a 4 out of 5.
Profile Image for Carissa.
754 reviews1 follower
August 30, 2013
wow, review to come as part of the blog tour.

Title: Bleeding Hearts

Author: Amber Stokes

Chapters: 27 plus epilogue

Genre: Christian Historical Romance/ fiction

Rating: 5 stars.

Bleeding Hearts by Amber Stokes is her debut novel. I have to start out by saying that it is different than any other Christian Historical that I have read in a while. However that is a good thing. It leaves you thinking and touches many different emotions. The only other novel that have read recently that comes close to making me feel that way was Laura Frantz’ Love's Reckoning. Bleedings Hearts is the perfect title for this novel, because it fits all the characters in the novel.
This is because all of the characters in the novel are searching for something. However most of them do not realize that it Jesus that they need. Bleeding Hearts reminds us that our own hearts are bleeding in some form or another. Either for God or own hearts are bleeding for what breaks God’s.
I enjoyed the novel I didn’t want it to end. Most of the characters were easy to fell in love with, but I have to say that Myghal was my favorite. I hope that he gets his own story someday. With Sally I felt for her, cried with her, laughed with her and rejoiced with her. Bleeding Hearts is a great debut novel that I felt blessed to be able to read and review for the author.

I was given an advanced e reader copy by the author in exchange for an honest review.
Profile Image for Kate (The Shelf Life).
384 reviews18 followers
October 16, 2013
Bleeding Heart is Amber Stokes' debut novel that will grip your heart with a mixture of sorrow and laughter. The emotions that Amber can portray in her story are true and you just ache and celebrate with each of the characters as the go through their trials and achievements.

The story follows Sally Clay as she escapes Virgina City, a three year nightmare, and what could be an even worse future. Sally sees an opportunity to leave with two friends, Joe and Myghal, who are leaving the mining city to try their hand at logging in the Red Wood Forest. Sally thinks she can make a new start in this mining camp and put the past three years behind her working with the cook of the camp. Sally is able to work there for a few weeks, but she isn't able to find the contentment she wants. She needs to move on and find the person who started her nightmare. Sally soon learns her journey isn't just for her alone. Joe and Myghal follow her, wanting to protect and help her if they can.

Bleeding Heart offers some surprises I couldn't have guessed and left me a little shocked. Mixed into the surprise was a bit of suspense. It is the perfect mixture that kept me turning the pages. Amber is also able to paint a beautiful picture of the landscape surrounding our cast of characters. The detail is wonderful and allows you see it and experience it right along with each character.

It was a touching story of over coming past hurts and healing the heart.
Profile Image for Michelle.
68 reviews18 followers
August 26, 2013
**4 1/2 Stars**

When Amber approached me last year to read what she had written so far on her Bleeding Heart manuscript, I jumped at the chance! It was with great pleasure that I read the beginning of this wonderful story, and it was with great pleasure that I agreed to read and review the final copy of Bleeding Heart for Amber's blog tour! I count it an honor and a privilege to have been a part of Amber's writing journey.

The much anticipated debut of Bleeding Heart did not leave me disappointed! From the opening pages, to the very end, I was captivated and intrigued by the characters and the individual journeys they were on. I love how Amber tied the theme of broken hearts throughout the novel, and I enjoyed seeing how things unfolded for each of the characters.

With a detailed setting, well-drawn characters, and elements to pull on your heartstrings, Amber has penned a fine debut! Two of the things I loved about the writing, was that in one moment I could feel the fear and tension happening on the page, and in another moment I could feel the bittersweet tenderness playing out for the characters. The fact that I was brought to tears at one point is a very good thing -- it's a sign of VERY good writing, in my book!

I look forward to all that Amber has in store for us in the future, and I recommend Bleeding Heart without hesitation.
Profile Image for Debbie.
303 reviews5 followers
November 20, 2013
Sad, Yet Compelling Historical Romance (4 Stars)

Bleeding Heart by Amber Stokes

This novel starts in Virginia City, Nevada in the Summer of 1886 and the main characters, travel from Nevada to California to Oregon...all in search of love or running from a disastrous relationship.

Sally Clay was in love with someone who did not love her back and when she left her home and followed him out west and found out he didn’t want her, she was left in a town with no money and no place to go. Back then, there was just about one thing a woman like that could do and she ended up in a brothel. She hated it and wanted out so badly. But not so bad as to marry Rufus O’Daniel...not for all the money in the world. So she ran!

Joe and Myghal were headed out on the train to leave Virginia City and Sally begged them to let her go. They finally gave in, and that began the story of Sally and all her trials and tribulations in finding true love and running from her past.

This book will keep you guessing, sometime you’ll get very mad at some of the characters and then sometime you’ll feel very sorry for others. It’s a roller coaster of emotions.

I encourage anyone that reads this book, to make sure to read the author’s note in the back. It’s very interesting to read how this book came about and about the places in the book that are actually real.
Profile Image for My Book Addiction and More MBA.
1,958 reviews63 followers
March 23, 2014
BLEEDING HEART by Amber Stokes is another exciting Inspirational Western Romance by this author set in 1886 Northern California. #2 in "The Heart's Spring", while it can be read as a stand alone, I would recommend reading book 1 first, FORGET ME NOT.

This is Seth and Sally's story. Filled with broken hearts, struggles, flawed characters, healing, forgiveness, and love. You will fall in love with the characters of BLEEDING HEART. You will also see re-appearing characters from FORGET ME NOT. An enjoyable read from Nevada, California to Oregon, you will not be disappointed. Ms. Stokes has written a story with flawed characters, that are engaging, believable, and realistic with a storyline that is unique as well as entertaining. I love this series. Well done!!

A definite author to watch for in the future. I can't wait to read the next in this amazing new series, MORNING GLORY, coming this summer,2014.

I would recommend this story for any reader who enjoys, Historical romance, Western Romances, and just a great read. Fast paced and filled with emotion, faith, drama, and the power of love. A must read! Received for an honest review.



REVIEWED BY: AprilR, courtesy of My Book Addiction and More

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