Thursday, September 10, 2015

Review: Down in the Valley

Down in the Valley (Green Valley - Book 1) by Jane Shoup

Publication Date: 08/25/2015
Publisher: Kensington
Imprint: Zebra
Genre: Historical Romance
Pages: 400

(Received for an honest review Kensington Zebra)

Purchase: Amazon, Barnes & Noble, IndieBound, itunes

Jane Shoup on the WEB: Website, BlogFacebook, Goodreads


Saint or Sinner?
Miss Emeline Wright risked everything to escape the monster who stole her innocence, her dignity, her pride. Now no one in her little home town nestled in the West Virginia hills must ever know what she was forced to do while a captive in the city. Her only chance is to make a go of her uncle’s failing farm, but how can a woman alone, in rough country, survive?
With unfailing courage and an open heart, Em wins over the townspeople who’ve judged her so harshly, taking in a motley crew of misfits who show up, one by one, to lend a hand. But it’s the quiet strength and unfailing love of a single man that will show her how to trust again as they  build a  home to last forever…


Jane Shoup brings readers the first book in her Green Valley series, Down in the Valley. This book is set in West Virginia during the 1800's. Readers who enjoy books with lots of characters and storylines will find this one right up their alley. Shoup is not only able to tell a compelling story of a woman who has suffered finding a place for herself and love, but she is able to enlighten the reader about the rights of women during this time in history. A heartwarming tale of second chances and helping others. Potentially, a very good series. 

What I Liked:

I don't live too far from West Virginia and I tend to like historical novels that are set in that area. West Virginia and Kentucky have a lot in common, especially during the era that Down in the Valley depicts. I thought Shoup did a wonderful job of showing the ruggedness of the area and it's beauty. But she was also able to capture the sometimes forgotten picture of poverty and desperation. The town Shoup writes about was not destitute or anything like that, but there were a lot of people in need of a helping hand for one reason or another and I think that was a realistic portrayal of the times. Well done on that aspect of the book.

I liked the fact that Shoup was able to shed some light on the rights of women during the 1800's. A woman alone trying to fend for herself was rare. It was difficult on many levels because the men had a great deal of power, while women did not even have the right to vote. Men were supposed to earn the money and provide for the women and turning the tables on those ideals was just not done. I liked the fact that Emeline was independent and strong, especially considering her past. I thought she was a great example of the human condition and I enjoyed watching her grow as a character in such a tough environment. 

Emeline's relationship with Tommy was quiet and tender and had the makings for a really solid love story. The idea that Tommy along with several other misfits, if you will, came to help Emeline on the farm, gave their romance a chance to bloom. I found Tommy to be a little on the shy side, but he held strong convictions and wasn't afraid to voice them when he needed to. I thought the main characters complimented each other well. Readers who are looking for a romance that is wholesome and sweet will certainly like these two together.

What I Didn't Like:

Although there were several things I did like about the book, there were many things that overshadowed the potential in this one. There were tons of characters in this book. Far too many to make it easy to follow. It created a lot of confusion and it was hard as a reader to figure out who was important to the story and who wasn't. It think it would have served the writer better to have had a smaller cast that could have been more thoroughly developed. I want to know more than just the name of a character who is being introduced. I want to know why I should care who they are. Why I should want to remember them as the story continues and I felt that was missing here.

Errors in grammar are not one of those things that bug me. Spelling errors however, stick out like a sore thumb. There were some errors in both areas with this book but the most glaring issue for me was the terminology and modern language. This was a book set in the 1800's and I felt like Shoup took a lot of poetic license in how she expressed herself and how her characters talked and in some cases acted. 

Bottom Line:

There is a lot of potential here. The plot itself was engaging and there were some ideas that were definitely worth pursuing. I liked the actual love story part of the book but felt it was somewhat confusing to sort it all out. Too many characters and a bit to much modern language. I think the author brought readers a compelling story, with a great heroine, but perhaps needed to reign in how many people the reader needed to keep up with. I will certainly give the next book in the series a nod and see how things progress. One to watch... it could be amazing given a few minor changes.

Down in the Valley is available NOW from your favorite bookseller. 

I'm giving this one 3 out of 5 apples from my book bag!

About the Author:

Jane Shoup is a native of Southern Indiana and a 20‐year resident of North Carolina. Her novel Pedestals won the Eppie Award for best action thriller in 2006. Currently, her day job is in real estate, although she writes every moment she possibly can. Shoup says writing is like slipping into another world—which is precisely what she aims to make possible for her readers. You can visit her at www.