Colonial James Towne Brought to Life
Tidewater Bride by Laura Frantz is her earliest Colonial America period book to date. Set in James Towne, circa 1634, the author’s in-depth research renders a fascinating tale. I was carried away to a time long-ago and almost forgotten.
I’ve read a number of both fiction and non-fiction historical accounts of the life of Pocahontas. The tribute paid to both the Powhatan princess and her husband, John Rolfe, touched me deeply by the honest and brave depiction of the harsher truths of colonial life. This alone makes Tidewater Bride a must-read for lovers of historical fiction.
The author delivers more than history. Frantz is a master word-smith and storyteller. One thing I enjoyed immensely was the balanced touch of her pen to the language of the early 17th century. The characters’ thoughts and speech are seasoned perfectly with old English words, making Selah and Xander authentic without becoming difficult or pretentious.
Tidewater Bride is an engaging historical romance with multi-faceted characters and a high-stakes plot. Every word was a delight!
Today's review is extra special to me because this debut novel is written by my friend and fellow local author, Heather Norman Smith. I am thrilled and honored to be sharing in the excitement of the release of her first novel, Grace and Lavender.
Thank you for being here to share a little of your journey with us.
So many people dream about writing and publishing a book. Your dream is becoming a reality, right now, with your first book released on March 1. I’m so excited for you.
I’ve read Grace and Lavender, and I’m intrigued by both your characters and the themes you’ve woven into this story. Your characters tackle some tough, true-to-life issues and the ending still managed to leave me feeling like this…
Let’s talk about your main characters for a minute. Colleen, Grace and Melody, three women from three different generations. I loved that each woman was unique, totally believable for her generation, and yet they connected to each other beautifully and providentially.
Amy- This question may be a bit like asking a mom to choose a favorite child, but which character was the hardest to let go when you had to write, ‘The End’?
Heather- I love them all, but the story started in my head with Colleen, so she’s probably the one I missed the most at the end. I connected with her the most.
Amy- Is it possible we will meet any of these ladies again in a future book?
Heather- I’ve heard a few people say they’d like to know what comes next for those characters. I might write a sequel one day, but for now, I’m working on another short novel that is set in their town. Colleen has a cameo in this story, and Melody and Grace are both referenced, but it doesn’t really carry on with their story. This book might become part of a “Springville Series” that focuses on different members of their church.
No spoilers, here. So, I’m going to try not to give away any of your surprises or plot twists. Grace is so much more than a name in this story, but the young woman, Grace, is key. Grace is a teen orphan who lives in a children’s home. She’s a kid with potential who has gotten herself into trouble.
Amy- Foster care and adoption are important issues to you. I can’t help but think this book may inspire some readers into action for the sake of the Graces out there. Do you have any suggestions of where they can get more information or find volunteer opportunities?
Heather- I love this question, because the desire to encourage others to consider foster care and adoption, or to help orphans in some way, is one of the reasons I wrote the book. I think a good place to start is an internet search for the department or division of Social Services in your county. Then call and ask for more information. Aside from county agencies, there are other local non-profits that provide foster care licensure and other resources. I encourage people to pray about it, just make a phone call, and see how the Lord would have them serve.
Amy- The theme of grace is also part of this novel. Did you experience a growing understanding of God’s grace through the process of writing?
Heather- I did! Not to give too much away, but there’s a scene in the book that is special to me, where Colleen defines grace as a special favor that isn’t deserved. And I think it’s so true. God lavishes His love on me. It’s completely unmerited, yet He does it anyway. That’s grace.
Thank you so much for your willingness to answer these questions and give us an inside view of Grace and Lavender from your perspective. Reading your book was a pleasure. I look forward to many more!
Grace and Lavender is a heartwarming story of hope and home for a teen girl who begins this journey without either one. I will admit that I had to push through the beginning of this story as it was a little slow at the start. The reward was a beautiful story with relatable characters who left me satisfied at the end.
The book takes us into the world of a young teen who lives in a children’s home. Three generations of women tell us this story. I found myself cheering for all three women along their intertwined journey toward healing for the young protagonist.
While the story has a happy ending, it does not gloss over the emotional difficulties and painful experiences along the way. The theme of Grace is woven throughout by a new author with an exceptional gift of story-telling.
I cannot possibly over-rate this book. Romantic Mystery/Suspense is not something I read a lot, but I’ve read enough to know this one is different. The psychological and spiritual intrigue is as well written as the intense and complicated mystery. Every character has a well-planned role and yet none seem robotic or gratuitous. They are all believably real. The author’s talent amazed me.
I felt a thrill being pulled into this story. Isn’t that how a suspense novel should be? I think so. I’ll keep reading mysteries, so long as ones like this are available.
I received a complimentary copy of this book from Barbour Publishing and was under no obligation to post a review.
What elements are a must have for you in a good book? I have two which never change, no matter the genre or my mood. First, I want relatable characters who struggle with true-to-life relationship problems. And secondly, I have to have a satisfying ending, preferably a happy one.
I’ve been looking forward to this book ever since reading Laurel’s first, A Family for the Farmer. She delivers on both of my must-haves and weaves a beautiful story along the way.
As a preacher’s daughter, I found the inner workings of this fictional church amazingly realistic. It wasn’t difficult to find myself rooting for the young minister and his cause. There are no perfect characters in this story, but there are definitely some who are easier to like than others. One of the most heart-warming aspects of the characters is how they come to terms with their mistakes and short-comings.
Laurel Blount has created a place many of us would love to call home. If only, Pine Valley were real after all. Thankfully, it's as close as your next best read.
A Sparkle of Silver by Liz Johnson is a fun, fast-paced contemporary romance with a 1920’s twist and a mystery too. I most enjoyed the uniqueness of this story in its setting and intricate plot. Johnson writes a coming-of-age story of sorts that doesn’t shy away from one of the most difficult aspects of a woman’s growing up. She handles the subject with spiritual insight, while being both delicate and brave.
I recommend this for ages 15 and up, due to the sexual nature of one heroine’s struggles. This recommendation is by no means censure or a cause for alarm.
In my opinion Liz has written a well-balanced and spiritually wise story which embraces the realities of becoming a woman. I applaud her for her creation of a beautiful, well-told and wonderfully unique story.
The Light of Day by Suzanne Woods Fisher is set in 1840’s Nantucket with a secondary story told through a 1600's journal entries. I thoroughly enjoyed this novel filled with both mystery and romance, alongside well researched history of both Nantucket and the Quakers. I can honestly say this is my favorite by Fisher to date. And that’s saying something!
The Sound of Distant Thunder is a story of love put to the test by faith and family relationships. Young love seems easy and limitless until real life begins to stand in the way of Katie Stuckey’s starry-eyed dreams. For Jonas, the man she wants to marry, becoming the man God wants him to be is complicated by his abolitionist convictions and his church’s pacifistic stand. The young couple have a great deal of growing up to do in the midst of the turmoil of the Civil War before the desires of their hearts can be met.
Jan Drexler’s tale carried my heart back to the wonders and worry of new love and left me satisfied in the end with the same hope all those beautiful young emotions always supply. This is the kind of sweet love story I will never outgrow.
on love's gentle shore
Book Three of Liz Johnson's Prince Edward Island Dreams is possibly the best in the series.
While we get to revisit the familiar settings of Grady's Diner and the Red Door Inn, along with a deeper glimpse into the past of some of my favorite secondary characters, the hero and heroine are new and refreshing.
Natalie O'Ryan and Justin Kayne have a history running deep into the past experiences of the tight knit community. A painful past which hasn't been forgotten, even if it has yet to be brought to light.
A story of forgiveness and healing, On Love's Gentle Shores, is one of my favorite new releases from this summer.
(This is a stand alone story and can be read apart from the first two books.)
looking glass lies
When Varina Denman tackles a tough subject, she takes it all the way down and leaves the reader flush with the thrill of a hard won victory. This book is for every woman who has ever struggled with self esteem and every man who loves her.
The third book in Suzanne Woods Fisher's Amish Beginnings, this historical contains all the elements I love in a Pre-Revolution Era novel.
The dangers faced by the Amish settlers challenge their pacifist beliefs. The abduction of one of their own by Shawnee warriors engulfs them in the turbulent confusion of hatred and bigotry propelling those around them, even those among them, to violence.
Politics of the day, innovations, and romance fill the pages for the well-rounded enjoyment of a history lover.
Based on historical events, Fisher's tale bears the wisdom of the past and a spark of hope for the future.
(Another third in a series, this book can be read as a stand alone.)