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Tuesday, September 29, 2015

DiAnn Mills: Deadlock

By Kelly Bridgewater

Synopsis from Amazon:

From Amazon
Two murders have rocked the city of Houston. Are they the work of a serial killer, or is a copycat trying to get away with murder?

That is the question facing Special Agent Bethany Sanchez, who is eager for her new assignment in violent crimes but anxious about meeting her new partner. Special Agent Thatcher Graves once arrested her brother, and he has a reputation for being a maverick. Plus, their investigative styles couldn’t be more opposite: he operates on instinct, while she goes by the book.

When hot leads soon fizzle out, their differences threaten to leave them deadlocked. But an attempt on their lives turns up the heat and brings them closer together, and a third victim might yield the clue that will help them zero in on a killer. This could be the case of their careers . . . if they can survive long enough to solve it.

My Thoughts:

I truly enjoy DiAnn Mills’ writing. Her catch phrase is Expect an Adventure and that is exactly what I hope for when I open one of her books and plop down in a chair with my toffee nut latte. I want to be taken away, hunting for a killer while watching the police hunt for evidence. Read my thoughts on Firewall and Double Cross, the first two books in the FBI: Houston series. Mills’ latest Deadlock fits right into the suspense genre even though it was completely conventional.

The first thing I love about Mills writing is all the accurate police details. I have followed Mills on Facebook for a while, and I have seen all the research with the Citizen’s Police Academy’s, so I know her research will be spot on. There is not a moment in the story that I don’t believe her telling how the police do their jobs. I trust it all. Plus, the officer’s authenticity kept me engrossed in the story.

Bethany and Thatcher make an interesting partnership. First, Bethany wants to see justice done with her brother, Lucas, and refuses to allow him to roam free after creating deadly mistakes for his life.  Bethany is pushed out of her family because of her choices to put him behind bars for his troubles. I really liked Bethany’s strong values and determination to solve the murder and help her brother at the same time. On the other hand, Thatcher had a bad relationship with his father, who died before he could fix it. Thatcher became a Christian weeks before the story started, so he tries hard to show his Christianity, not preach at others. That is what all of us Christians should aim for.

The conflict was original but slow. I like a mystery that keeps the readers and the characters on their toes. Deadlock was really formulaic. The story starts with a dead body. Interview the family members. Interview employees. Another dead body. Try to find a connection. Something happens to the hero or heroine. More interviews. Almost death experience. Incident or struggle with the bad person. Bad person overcome. Marriage proposal.  I had a hard time wanting to return to Deadlock. Plus, the romance was pretty cheesy. I really didn’t believe Bethany and Thatcher were falling in love. It just made for a good romantic suspense.

In conclusion, DiAnn Mills’ Deadlock missed the mark for me as a mystery because it was totally predictable and formulaic. I would like to have seen the story push the limit on the originality. Even though the idea and the reasoning behind the story were original, I still had a hard time getting lost in the plot.

I received a complimentary copy of Deadlock from Tyndale Publishing and the opinions stated are all my own.

My Rating: 3 out of 5 stars


Purchase Deadlock

Bonus Material:

Tyndale kindly provided a video of DiAnn Mills talking about what inspired her to write Deadlock. Enjoy!


Friday, September 25, 2015

What Steven James Means to Me

By Kelly Bridgewater

This is the seventh session of me writing about the authors who have influenced me as a writer. If you missed any previous posts, please return to them and read up on how these certain authors influenced me. There were C. S. Lewis, J. R. R. Tolkien, J. K. Rowling, Arthur Conan Doyle, Alexandre Dumas, and Frances Hodgson Burnett.

Today I will be talking about a contemporary author who I personally met in February 2014. He was the keynote speaker of the Advanced Writer’s Boot Camp Conference in Asheville, North Carolina. I attended with my husband and loved listening to Steven James talk about his rejection letters. He read snippets of them, having the audience rolling in laughter. It made us feel better about the rejection letters we receive.

I was first introduced to Steven James when I was roaming the bookshelves at my local library. If I don’t have a certain author whose book I want to read usually I scan the spine for books by the Christian publisher. I found the Revell Publishing symbol on a book spine, which read The Rook  James. I had never heard of Steven James, but the book was published by a Christian company and the book was thick, so I withdrew it from the shelf and took it home.

I was hooked.

Luckily, for me, The Rook was the second book in the Patrick Bower’s series. The Pawn and The Knight were already published and The Bishop was just about to come out. I loved how Patrick Bower used a unique system to hunt for the serial killers. The killer surprised me in practically every book. When I met James in February, 2014, he was impressed by my copy of The Knight because I had scribbled all over the margins and highlighted key phrases with post-it notes sticking out of the top. I was studying how James crafted a story where the killer was a total shock.

Steven James taught me to push the limits when it comes to writing Christian suspense. Not all Christian suspense books have to be completely planned out and PG for the “saved” audience. We are like the secular audience in that we like a story that grips us and tightens more and more as the story progresses. Likewise, he encouraged me to not choose the first bad thing that happened to our characters. Make a list and allow them to squirm. As a writer, you don’t want the reader to guess the ending before they arrive there.


Have you experienced any of Steven James’ Patrick Bower’s series? If so, what is your favorite book of the series? Have you ever studied a book so much that you have marked up your copy of their book in order to improve your own personal writing?

*This first appeared on the Indiana Chapter of the ACFW, Hoosier Ink. *

Wednesday, September 23, 2015

Rick Barry: The Methuselah Project

By Kelly Bridgewater

Synopsis from Amazon:

Nazi scientists started many experiments. One never ended.

Roger Greene is a war hero. Raised in an orphanage, the only birthright he knows is the feeling that he was born to fly. Flying against the Axis Powers in World War II is everything he always dreamed—until the day he’s shot down and lands in the hands of the enemy.

From Amazon
When Allied bombs destroy both his prison and the mad genius experimenting on POWs, Roger survives. Within hours, his wounds miraculously heal, thanks to those experiments. The Methuselah Project is a success—but this ace is still not free. Seventy years later, Roger hasn’t aged a day, but he has nearly gone insane. This isn’t Captain America—just a lousy existence only made passable by a newfound faith. The Bible provides the only reliable anchor for Roger’s sanity and his soul. When he finally escapes, there’s no angelic promise or personal prophecy of deliverance, just confusion. It’s 2015—and the world has become an unrecognizable place.

Katherine Mueller—crack shot, genius, and real Southern Belle—offers to help him find his way home. Can he convince her of the truth of his crazy story? Can he continue to trust her when he finds out she works for the very organization he’s trying to flee?

Thrown right into pulse-pounding action from the first page, readers will find themselves transported back in time to a believable, full-colored past, and then catapulted into the present once more. The historical back-and-forth adds a constantly moving element of suspense to keep readers on the edge of their seats.

My Thoughts:

What would happen if the Nazi’s invited a medicine that could make someone live for a thousand years? What if they experimented on American soldiers? What if one survived and escaped? That is exactly the type of story that The Methuselah Project is. The Methuselah Project by Rick Barry is a mixture of mystery and intrigue. Even though the synopsis on the back cover really doesn’t do the book justice, I really, really enjoyed this book. If you are a fan of World War II history and love a good suspense book filled with chase scenes and bullets flying, then I highly recommend you buying this book.

As a suspense book, Barry hits what I look for in a great thrill ride. First, there are plenty of characters going under disguise to throw off the enemy. Captain Roger Greene, the pilot, has to take on a number of disguises to escape his physical prison and return home to Indiana. With the help of two different ladies, Sophia and Katherine, Roger wakens to a new world in 2015. Second, I loved the idea of The Methuselah Project and what it actually does to Roger. It was a complete original and unpredictable story. I couldn’t read the book fast enough. I started it and finished one hundred pages, went to bed, and woke up and finished the book in two more hours. It is fast-paced and rich with action.

I believe it is so good because I got wrapped up in Roger’s plight that I wanted to see how it ended. Does he go home? Does he return to a normal life? What happens to him? Do people actually believe him? I held on to the plot, anxiously turning the pages waiting to see what happens to a character that I wanted everything to turn out for him. I felt bad for his struggles and wanted to see justice done.

Romance fans will even be interested. As a man who has been locked up for seventy years with only seeing the male doctors, of course, he is going to be interested in the female doctor, Sophia and Katherine, the accomplice in America. There are moments of high emotions, but nothing that true suspense lovers will cringe at. It is not over the top and cheesy. Very mellow. 

Another one of Barry's strength is his descriptive writing. I felt like I was in the airplane during 1943 when the story started. Barry's amount of research into the workings of these old airplanes really made the story ring true to me. I, however, enjoyed spending time in Plainfield, Indiana and all the details Barry had to look up.As someone who grew up just east of Plainfield, well actually Avon, Indiana, it sparked a little bit of homesickness in me. I loved growing up in Indianapolis. 

Briefly, near the end of the story, there is even a moment where I had to bat my eyes to keep tears from falling. Don’t worry. I won’t tell anyone if you have to keep some tears at bay too. Our secret.

Fans of suspense in any time period and fans of World War II novels will lose themselves in the plot. I highly recommend this book.

The Methuselah Project by Rick Barry is a fast pace non-stop action story that begins during World War II and brings Roger and me to the present day. This is a gem of a story, and I honestly can’t wait to see what else Rick Barry plans to write. I am hooked on his writing.

Rick  Barry
From Rick Barry's Facebook page
I received a complimentary copy of The Methuselah Project from Rick Barry in exchange for my honest opinion. All the statements in this review are mine, and I was not forced to leave a good review.

My Rating: 5 out of 5 stars

Purchase The Methuselah Project

Rick Barry's Writing Bio:

Rick Barry is the author of The Methuselah Project, Gunner's Run, Kiriath's Quest, plus over 200 published articles and fiction stories. In addition to being a World War II buff, he is the director of church planting ministries at BIEM, a Christian ministry operating in Eastern Europe. He holds a degree in foreign languages, speaks Russian, and has visited Europe more than fifty times. Rick and his wife Pam live near Indianapolis, Indiana. 

Contact Rick Barry
Facebook
Goodreads

What draws you, as a reader, into suspense books? What is your opinion on World War II suspense books?

Tuesday, September 22, 2015

Lisa Carter: Beyond the Cherokee Trail

By Kelly Bridgewater

From Amazon
Back Cover Copy:

When Linden Birchfield arrives in the Snowbird Cherokee community to organize the 180th commemoration of the Trail of Tears, she runs head on—literally—into arrogant former army sniper Walker Crowe. A descendant of the Cherokee who evaded deportation by hiding in the rugged Snowbird Mountains, Walker believes no good can result from stirring up the animosity with the white Appalachian residents whose ancestors looted the tribal lands so long ago.

Though at odds over the commemoration, Linden and Walker must unite against an unseen threat to derail the festival. Together they face an enemy whose implacable hatred can be traced to the events of the Trail, a dark chapter in America’s westward expansion. When called to resurrect his sniper abilities, Walker must thwart the enemy who threatens the modern-day inhabitants of tiny Cartridge Cove—and targets the woman who has captured his heart.

My Thoughts:

I took an undergraduate course at the university and really loved reading books in the Native American Culture. I have found some new writers, such as Louise Edrich, Sherman Alexie, Leslie Marmon Silko, to add to my shelf. It was one of the hardest classes I took, besides Shakespeare, but Dr. Baker’s love for the Native American culture shone in her lectures.  This class has spurn my love of my heritage and using examples from the Native American culture in other classes. As a direct descendent of the Cherokee Indians, I was fascinated by reading and learning more about other tribes that formed our great nation.

I knew Lisa Carter had written a couple of other books that feature different Native American tribes, but my local library doesn’t have them, and I haven’t seen them anywhere to purchase them. When I found out Netgalley had her newest release up for grabs, I jumped at the chance to get a copy.

I enjoyed how Carter draws a connection to the famous Trial of Tears to the modern story. The story is told from two different perspectives. We have Sarah Jane’s who lived in 1838 and took the horrible journey with the Cherokee Indians, and Linden Birchfield who lives in the future. 2018 to be exact. Carter does a good job at intertwining the historical aspect with the modern story. I really enjoyed how Sarah Jane kept reminding Pierce that the Cherokee’s rituals to their god was really the same thing as modern Christians did to our God. I think a lot of people forget that aspect of the Cherokee’s culture.

While the conflict centers around the Cherokee’ removal, the story does have a number of love stories for the romance fans. There is a love story in the past between Sarah Jane and Pierce and Touch the Clouds and another woman. In the future story, Linden falls in love with a fallen sniper named Walker. There is no violence or sexual content, so the story is safe for fans of any age.

I had a couple of issues with the story. While the historical background was deeply researched, which is proven with the historical timeline, I wondered why Carter allowed the present part of the story to take place in 2018, which is three years from now. Why not just title it the present day? I’m sure Carter wanted to stay with the seventy years from the movement, but it was odd for me. Second, as an avid fan of Native American writings from someone on the inside of the Native American culture, this story did not really ring true to that genre. I could tell this story was written by someone on the outside looking into their culture and trying to tell a story about the past. Not that it ruined the story. It was different than what I was expecting.

I received a complimentary copy of Beyond the Cherokee Trail from Abingdon Press and the opinions stated are all my own.

My Rating: 3.5 out of 5 stars


Friday, September 18, 2015

Time to Write? What's That?

By Kelly Bridgewater

As a mother of three rowdy boys, I am always asked how I find the time to write. I have to take care of the house, make sure three boys get to school on time, pick up the boys from school, supervise homework and chores, and have dinner on the table. My oldest son is in chess club. My middle son is in Boy Scouts. While my youngest son just started chess club. I also attend church on Sundays and Wednesdays and make sure my oldest son attends youth group activities. But that is only one part of who I am.

I am also a avid book reviewer for Booktalk.Fiction411 where I review four plus books a month, so I help my Senior Editor, Amy Drown, as we upload the completed reviews and schedule new reviews when possible. While doing the editorial side of the job takes A LOT of time, I still have to produce reviews of my own. Currently, I try to do four to five DIFFERENT  books a month here. 

Plus, I have my own blog to keep up with, which is where you are reading this. I do Book Review Tuesdays and Writing Advice Fridays. It keeps me busy. All the books to review and upload. I try not to overlap my reviews because I like to do different books in different places. Sometimes I have giveaways and interviews with published authors, so I have to keep track of who has responded and who hasn’t. On the other hand, I blog two other places. The Indiana ACFW chapter, Hoosier Ink, and Sleuths and Suspects.

With all this, I still find time to allow my imagination to roam free and work on my own writing.

How? You might be asking.

Here are some of my tips:
     
      1.) All three of my boys attend school for seven hours a day (Not right now because it is summer break, but they will return in about six weeks.) I wanted to homeschool when the oldest started school, but I’m glad I didn’t. I enjoy my “ME” time. It keeps me sane and produces a lot of writing.

2.) On the weekends, I spent time with my family and write in the evenings after everyone else has gone to bed. It is a sacrifice, but it helps to focus those two days on my family.

3.) I plan ahead. I am pretty good at writing at least three months ahead on all my blogs, so that I can keep that far out scheduled. You never know what might come up. I might have some huge disaster that I have to work on with my family. Except for the book reviews because I have to do them around the time the books come out, I pretty much write all my writing advice so far ahead that I have time to work on my writing.


What do you do to keep writing even though you have a forty hour a week job, plus a family to keep track of? I would like to hear some stories of inspiration. 

Tuesday, September 15, 2015

Roseanna M. White: The Lost Heiress

By Kelly Bridgewater

From Amazon
Back Cover Copy:

Brook Eden has never known where she truly belongs. Though raised in the palace of Monaco, she's British by birth and was brought to the Grimaldis under suspicious circumstances as a babe. When Brook's friend Justin uncovers the fact that Brook is likely a missing heiress from Yorkshire, Brook leaves the sun of the Mediterranean to travel to the moors of the North Sea to the estate of her supposed family.

The mystery of her mother's death haunts her, and though her father is quick to accept her, the rest of the family and the servants of Whitby Park are not. Only when Brook's life is threatened do they draw close--but their loyalty may come too late to save Brook from the same threat that led to tragedy for her mother.

As heir to a dukedom, Justin is no stranger to balancing responsibilities. When the matters of his estate force him far from Brook, the distance between them reveals that what began as friendship has grown into something much more. But how can their very different loyalties and responsibilities ever come together?

And then, for a second time, the heiress of Whitby Park is stolen away because of 
the very rare treasure in her possession--and this time only the servants of Whitby can save her.

My Thoughts:

I have never read anything from Roseanna White. I have seen her books, but they were very historical looking covers with the lady in the long dress and the ships in the background. I didn’t feel any urge to pick them up and buy them. But with her newest release The Lost Heiress by Bethany House publishers, I loved the image of Brook on the cover and the synopsis on the back sounded intriguing. So I picked up a copy.

White does a good job at creating the historical time period with the descriptive words. I enjoyed the struggle the characters had with the differences between driving the new “automobiles” or riding their horses. It made me wonder if I would have had the same dilemma if I lived in 1910. One of White’s greatest strengths, in my humble opinion, is her ability to paint a picture with her words. I really felt like I was roaming Brook’s father’s home and riding the horse through the back pasture. Her attention to detail really drew me in.

The conflict surrounding the red diamond aka Fire Eyes grabbed my attention. I wanted to know as much as Brook did why she didn’t live with her father after her mother died. I kept waiting for the journal to explain, but after finishing the complete novel and writing this review, I realized that White never explained why Brook went to live with the opera singer’s family. Why didn’t she return home? There was a mention of a newspaper article sent to her mother. I don’t know if this was what White wanted to satisfy that question, but it didn’t work for me. As an avid fan of suspense, this mystery seemed alright. It didn’t leave me begging for more and staying up all night to read, but fans of lighter mysteries might enjoy this one.

The characters weren’t that two dimensional. I really didn’t relate to either of them. Jack and Brook wanted nothing more than to be together and have their happily-ever-after. They were characters that I didn’t hate, but I wished I could have liked them more. The mystery element gripped my attention more.

Overall, Roseanna M. White’s The Lost Heiress is a cozy historical mystery with lackluster characters, but White’s attention to detail will grab any readers of historical dramas.

Roseanna M. White
From Amazon
Roseanna M. White’s Writing Bio:

Roseanna M. White grew up in the mountains of West Virginia, the beauty of which inspired her to begin writing as soon as she learned to pair subjects with verbs. She spent her middle and high school days penning novels in class, and her love of books took her to a school renowned for them. After graduating from St. John's College in Annapolis, Maryland, she and her husband moved back to the Maryland side of the same mountains they equate with home. 

Roseanna is the author of two biblical novels, A Stray Drop of Blood and Jewel of Persia, both from WhiteFire Publishing (www.WhiteFire-Publishing.com), and Love Finds You in Annapolis, Maryland, a historical romance, with Summerside Press. She is the senior reviewer at the Christian Review of Books, which she and her husband founded, the senior editor at WhiteFire Publishing, and a member of ACFW, HisWriters, HEWN Marketing, and Colonial Christian Fiction Writers.

Where to connect with Roseanna M. White:

Where to purchase The Lost Heiress:
Your local Favorite Bookstore


What element of historical mysteries do you enjoy the most? What makes you pick up a historical romance novel?

Friday, September 11, 2015

What Frances Hodgson Burnett Means to Me



By Kelly Bridgewater

Continuing with my theme of authors that have helped shape who I am today as a writer and an avid reader, today I’m going to discuss Frances Hodgson Burnett. If you missed any of the other five entries that encompass 2015, please visit my past posts. I have talked about C.S. Lewis, J.R. R. Tolkien, J. K. Rowling, Arthur Conan Doyle, and Alexandre Dumas.

Frances Hodgson Burnett is an English writer who wrote books for young adults. The Lost Prince, The Secret Garden, and The Little Princess are among the three most popular ones, and the ones I loved as a little child.

The stories appeared simple on the surface, but as you delve deeper, they were masterfully written with lessons for the young readers to unbury.

While reading The Secret Garden, I love traveling around the Misselthwaite Manor with Mary as she uncovered a hidden key in an abandoned part of the huge house. She used the key to open and bring life back to a hidden garden. Along the way, she learned to love and be loved by her cousin, Colin, and her uncle, Mr. Craven.

The Little Princess showed the hardship of the lower class among the wealthy. Poor Sarah believed in stories such much that even when her father was announced dead, she still captivated the servant girl, Becky, with stories to pass the horrible, cold nights while they were both trapped in the attic as a curiosity from Ms. Minchin.

I loved these stories as a child and still read them to my boys and my niece. My father also purchased the leather bound editions from Barnes and Nobles for me. They sit next to my edition of Sherlock Holmes and The Count of Monte Cristo.

Frances Hodgson Burnett taught me that if a child’s story is written well then it can be read by any age. Like C. S. Lewis states, “A children’s story that can only be enjoyed by children is not a good children’s story in the slightest.” This is proven by J. K. Rowling with her Harry Potter masterpieces that have been enjoyed by young adults and adults alike. I completely agree with C.S. Lewis, if an adult can’t return to the books they enjoyed as a child, then the story wasn’t well-written to begin with. Being a parent of three small boys, I want my children to return to the stories that have captured their heart when they were innocent and young. A simple written story can capture the imagination and steal the hearts of the readers, which any great story should do.

Have you ever read any of the books mentioned by Frances Hodgson Burnett? What books do you return to that you read as a child?

Tuesday, September 8, 2015

Lisa Wingate: The Sea Keeper’s Daughters

By Kelly Bridgewater

Back Cover Copy:
From Amazon

From modern-day Roanoke Island to the sweeping backdrop of North Carolina’s Blue Ridge Mountains and Roosevelt’s WPA folklore writers, past and present intertwine to create an unexpected destiny.

Restaurant owner Whitney Monroe is desperate to save her business from a hostile takeover. The inheritance of a decaying Gilded Age hotel on North Carolina’s Outer Banks may provide just the ray of hope she needs. But things at the Excelsior are more complicated than they seem. Whitney’s estranged stepfather is entrenched on the third floor, and the downstairs tenants are determined to save the historic building. Searching through years of stored family heirlooms may be Whitney’s only hope of quick cash, but will the discovery of an old necklace and a Depression-era love story change everything?

My Thoughts:

I have never read anything by Lisa Wingate, but the synopsis for the story sounded interested. I couldn’t wait to jump in and read the story of Whitney and her search for the truth of her family. Wingate is a great writer, who captures many reader’s attention with her story. Her contemporary novel deals with issues that readers could relate to and draw them into the plot of the story.

For someone who is a fan of mysteries and suspense stories, the idea of reading letters from the past and trying to figure out the mysteries from the past captured my action-driven thirst in a story. But as I read this story, it really did not capture my attention. The letters were long and I personally felt like the story went on and on.  There was some mystery and Whitney uncovered the letters and tried to piece together her families past; the plot was very slow moving.

While Wingate does a great job at using the dialogue to move the story forward, her use of prose really did not enhance the story. There were moments where Whitney was talking to someone, and she would drift off into a page or more of internal dialogue. If this was real life, the person she was talking to might have waved their hand in front of her face and accuse her of spacing off. But that never happened. The other people just moved on in the conversation liked Whitney didn’t drift off, allowing her thoughts to overtake her.

Wingate’s story world came to life for me. She did a great job at creating the world with the elaborate hotel and all the treasures on the second floor. I enjoyed hunting through all the treasure with Whitney and learning the history about all the objects.

In short, Lisa Wingate is a great master at using contemporary issues to draw her readers into her plot, but for me, the story moved really, really slow, and I couldn’t wait to finish the book to move onto the next one.  Fans of her past work might enjoy this book.

I received a complimentary copy of The Seakeeper’s Daughters from Tyndale Publishing through Netgalley and the opinions stated are all my own.

Lisa Wingate
From Amazon
Lisa Wingate’s Writing Bio:

Lisa Wingate is a former journalist, inspirational speaker, and the author of over twenty mainstream fiction novels, including the national bestseller, Tending Roses, now in its nineteenth printing. She is a seven-time ACFW Carol award nominee, a Christy Award nominee, an Oklahoma Book Award finalist, and a two-time Carol Award winner. Her novels are known for taking on gritty subjects while offering redemptive and uplifting themes. Recently, the group Americans for More Civility, a kindness watchdog organization, selected Lisa along with Bill Ford, Camille Cosby, and six others, as recipients of the National Civies Award, which celebrates public figures who work to promote greater kindness and civility in American life. 

Where to connect with Lisa Wingate:

Where to purchase The Seakeeper’s Daughters:

Your local Favorite Bookstore

Monday, September 7, 2015

Dina Sleiman: Chivalrous

By Kelly Bridgewater

Description:

Strong and adventurous Gwendolyn Barnes longs to be a knight like her chivalrous brothers. However, that is not an option for her, not even in the Arthurian-inspired Eden where she dwells. Her parents view her only as a marriage pawn, and her domineering father is determined to see her wed to a brutish man who will break her spirit. 

When handsome, good-hearted Allen of Ellsworth arrives in Edendale searching for his place in the world, Gwendolyn spies in him the sort of fellow she could imagine marrying. Yet fate seems determined to keep them apart. Tournaments, intrigue, and battles--along with twists and turns aplenty--await these two as they struggle to find love, identity, and their true destinies.

My Thoughts:

From Amazon
Dina Sleiman’s Chivalrous captures the barely told reality of what occurs to women during the early thirteenth century. After reading and loving Sleiman’s first book in this series, Dauntless, I couldn’t wait to be transported back to the medieval period and read the story of Gwendolyn and Allen.

A girl with her own ideas, caught in extraordinary events. Gwendolyn pushed the envelope with her own desires to run free and be seen as an equal with men. But her father bruised her spirit and saw her only as a piece of meat on the chopping block, being sold to the highest bidder. No matter how cruel the winner would be. As long as they had money and could control her. Gwendolyn wanted nothing more than to fall in love with a gentle and chivalrous man who would love her and allow her to be who God made her to be.

Just like Gwendolyn, I enjoyed spending more time with Allen. Allen was part of the love triangle involving Timothy and Merry in Dauntless. Returning to a familiar character helped anchored me. The difference was seeing Allen and understanding his noble intentions and love for God. I really admired his soft and gentle spirit, but he wasn’t a weakingly. Allen could fight against the strongest men in the country and win.

Majority of the conflict centers on Gwendolyn, internally and externally. She has to decide whether to be the noble woman she was brought up to be and allow the man her father chooses  to marry her. Or should she choose to follow her heart and marry the man she has fallen head over heels in love with, who appreciates her true spirit as a wild mustang roaming the outer realms, wild and carefree.  

Sleiman does a great job at inviting the readers into the story world. Since the plot takes place in the early thirteenth century, no one can tell us first-hand accounts of what happened in the century. I believe Sleiman did her research and made the world come to life. She studied what the knights would wear when they joust and studied how women were actually treated. I felt Gwendolyn’s sympathy and struggle against marrying a man who would control her with an iron fist. Majority of stories or movies that I have watched do not really focus on the mistreatment of women during this time period; most of them glamorize living in a castle and having a knight fight for a woman’s hand.

I would have liked to less of  Rosalind, Gwendolyn’s hand-maiden perspective. It felt like I got taken out of the story and thrust into her head. Characters are supposed to add something to the overall plot, but she really did not. Almost everything she told us could have been told through Gwendolyn’s perspective. Sleiman enjoyed using the word chivalrous and putting Gwendolyn on the spot with the abusive man over and over again. It got annoying after a while.

In conclusion, Dina L. Sleiman’s Chivalrous, is a slow moving story with a strong heroine and hero who stand up for the rights of the downtrodden by empathizing the underside of how woman were treated. Fans of Sleiman’s first book and Melanie Dickerson’s fairy tale writings would enjoy this story.

I received a complimentary copy of this book from Bethany House Publishers and the opinions stated are all my own. 

My Rating:  3.5 out of 5 stars

Purchase Chivalrous