Publication Date: 02/04/2014
Publisher: Baker Publishing Company
Imprint: Revell Books
Genre: Christian/Inspirational Historical Romance
(Received for an honest review from Revell Books)
Purchase: Amazon, Barnes & Noble, Book Depository, ChristianBook, Indiebound
Ann Shorey on the WEB: website, blog, twitter, facebook, goodreads
Books in the series:
Where the Wildflowers Bloom (2012), When the Heart Heals (2013) Love's Sweet Beginning (2014)
Coverart: Click the Image for a larger, clearer view of the covers in this series.
Excerpt from, Love's Sweet Beginning, courtesy of the author's website.
It wasn't Cassie Haddon's fault that she had managed to reach the age of twenty-five without possessing any useful skills. Until the war, she had always had servants to wait on her. Since then, she and her widowed mother had moved from place to place, relying on family to care for them. Now she's forced to find work to support them both. What isn't in her plans is falling for Jacob West, a local restaurateur and grocer. She needs a job and he needs help. But what they both need is love.
With her signature sweet romance, Ann Shorey weaves a tale of two people from very different backgrounds finding common ground and the hopes of a bright future together.
Author Ann Shorey is known for her inspirational romances based on faith and her new book is no exception. Love's Sweet Beginning is the third book in Shorey's Sisters at Heart series. Shorey's knack for characterization and attention to detail make her writing expressive and poignant. She draws her readers in with engaging characters and holds their attention with her message of hope and love. Shorey's ability to write stories that completely transport the reader to another time and place is a rare gift in historical romance. A great addition to the series.
What I liked:
I love a good series, for a lot of reasons and the Sisters at Heart series is a well written example of why. A great setting, with lots of potential for conflict and change. Characters that have a reason to grow and adapt and an underlying message of faith. All of these thing come together to make Ann Shorey's books both relevant and realistic even though they are set in the past. Readers who are expecting the typical Christian fiction read may be surprised at her ability to make them take a deeper look at what's in their hearts.
Shorey puts this series in the middle of a historical time period that is fraught with change and difficulty. The Civil War has ravaged the land and it's people and that provides the background for drastic change within the story or within a character. Setting is extremely important in historical romance and I think Shorey really took that into consideration. In Love's Sweet Beginning, the change or conflict centers around Cassie's relationship with her mother and her own sense of self that is emerging. The setting seems to enhance the the idea of her spreading her wings and making a life of her own. Very well done.
Both Cassie and Jacob are trying to outlive their pasts, so to speak. Cassie has always relied on others to provide for her and make her comfortable. It was what was expected and she has no skills with which to change it. Her mother is domineering and commanding and Cassie's abilities are limited by her mothers behavior. Jacob is a grocer in a small Western town who has secrets of his own to keep. But like anyone else he not only wants love but needs it. I thought Shorey did an amazing job of showing how both of these characters changed and grew throughout the story. Cassie begins to see her own potential, to try new things, to defy the conventions that have trapped her. Jacob finds himself not only willing to find love, but open to how much it will change his life. And throughout that underlying theme of hope weaves the story together.
Shorey isn't shy about letting the reader know that Cassie is a woman of faith, that she puts her trust in the Lord and not in herself. The changes she makes in her life are only a reflection of God showing her, her own worth and how that is projected into everything she does. Shorey doesn't hit the reader over the head with it. She doesn't preach. She lets the story itself speak the message she wants to convey and that's what makes inspirational romance so enjoyable for many readers. Things don't just magically happen. The Lord uses circumstances and situations to bring about change and that is very clear in this book.
What I didn't like:
I didn't like Cassie's mother and I doubt many readers will either, but in this case that's a good thing. I believe that's exactly what Shorey was going for with this character. She was unfriendly, unyielding and somewhat ungrateful. But she provides the catalyst Cassie needs to find herself and to set her on the path to becoming the woman she truly wanted to be. I'm glad I didn't like her. She wasn't a villain, she was discord personified and very important to the story.
This book is about change and how if affects our lives. it was a romance with an underlying theme. I loved the relationship between Cassie and Jacob and how each of them transformed throughout the book. The setting was simply amazing and the characters were engaging and believable. If you love inspirational fiction this book is for you. A great historical romance!
Available February 2014 at your favorite bookseller from Revell, a division of Baker Publishing Group.
I'm giving this one 5 out of 5 apples from my book bag!
About the Author:
Ann Shorey is the author of the At Home in Beldon Grove series, Where Wildflowers Bloom, and When the Heart Heals. She has also published selections in the Cup of Comfort series and in Chicken Soup for the Grandma's Soul. Ann and her husband make their home in southwestern Oregon. Learn more at www.annshorey.com.
Over at the author's website, she is having a sweepstakes contest where you can win one of three prize packages related to Love's Sweet Beginning, including a signed set of the entire Sisters at Heart series. You have until the twentieth to enter.