Christian historical romance

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Bethany House Blog Tour: “The Rose of Winslow Street” by Elizabeth Camden

Published April 5, 2012 by One Desert Rose

The Rose of Winslow Street

The Rose of Winslow Street by Elizabeth Camden

The last thing Libby Sawyer and her father expected upon their return from their summer home was to find strangers inhabiting a house that had been in their family for twenty years. Widower Michael Dobrescu brought his family from Romania to the town of Colden, Massachusetts, with a singular purpose: to claim the house willed to his father. Since neither party has any intention of giving up their claim, a fierce legal battle ensues between the two families.

When Libby’s father’s most important and sensitive documents go missing, Michael and his family are the likely culprits. Determined to discover the truth behind the stolen papers, Libby investigates, only to find herself unconvinced that Michael’s to blame and at risk of developing feelings for this man with the mysterious past.

When it seems the papers have indeed made it into the wrong hands and a decision about the house is pending in the courts, Libby must weigh the risks of choosing a side and giving her heart to a man whose intentions and affections are less than certain.

Read an Excerpt.

Bio:

Elizabeth Camden is a research librarian at a small college in central Florida. She has a master’s in history from the University of Virginia and a master’s in library science from Indiana University. She has published several articles for academic publications and is the author of four nonfiction history books. Her ongoing fascination with history and love of literature have led her to write inspirational fiction. Elizabeth lives with her husband near Orlando, Florida.

She regularly posts about the joys of the book world at http://elizabethcamden.com/blog.

My Review:

At the opening of the story, Libby Sawyer and her father are spending the summer at a lake cottage, though their actual home was in Colden, Massachusetts, on Winslow Street.  Libby leads a quiet, yet interesting life of drawing her father’s inventions in detail.  Lying underneath her vivacious  and gracious personality lies a secret that brings her great shame.

Mikhail (Michael) Dobrescu has arrived from Romania to claim his deceased uncle’s home that was willed to him, but it just happens to be Libby’s father’s home in Colden.  Thinking the home is abandoned, Michael and his family overtake the home in an unconventional way, which alienates him from all the Colden residents. It would take the courts to decide on who actually owns the home.

Despite Libby’s outrage at Michael’s actions, she finds herself enamored by him.  In fact, she is accused of fraternizing with the ‘enemy’ and her father commanded her not to see the family.  But her Christian upbringing could not watch the family suffer though they themselves have been ousted from their own home.

What a heart-rending story of loyalty and love.  I was so enthralled with the characters, as the author brought out their genuineness in a way that you could not resist.  I thought about them throughout the day, as though they were real friends.  The relationships were both delightful and yet difficult to bear at times, but I found them comparable to relationships today, albeit the mysterious circumstances that brought Michael to America.  The secrets behind his actions propelled the story forward.

The tender, loving actions of Michael seemed contradictory to his large stature and initial gruff introduction. The author played on Michael and Libby’s attraction, their Christian beliefs, and their true desire to help each other as social outcasts. Their looming romance eventually becomes the talk of the town, despite her father’s feelings.

Deceit from other family members ups the ante to the suspense of the story.  It played well into the relationships between father and son and father and daughter.  It illuminates the dangers of having favorites among children.

Elizabeth Camden’s book, The Rose of Winslow Street, is a book I’d recommend to anyone for its historical flavor as well as the romance.  The details are exquisite and make the story rich.  I have to admit that the cover of the book was one reason I wanted to read it,  but it’s the content that won me over.  I look forward to reading other books by Elizabeth.

This book was provided by Jim at Bethany House in exchanged for my honest review.  No monetary compensation was exchanged.

“Yesterday’s Tomorrow” by Catherine West

Published November 17, 2011 by One Desert Rose

VIETNAM 1967

She’s after the story that might get her the Pulitzer.

He’s determined to keep his secrets to himself.

Independent, career-driven journalist Kristin Taylor wants two things: to honor her father’s memory by becoming an award-winning overseas correspondent and to keep tabs on her only brother, Teddy, who signed up for the war against their mother’s wishes.

Brilliant photographer Luke Maddox, silent and brooding, exudes mystery. Kristin is convinced he’s hiding something.

Willing to risk it all for what they believe in, Kristin and Luke engage in their own tumultuous battle until, in an unexpected twist, they’re forced to work together. Ambushed by love, they must decide whether or not to set aside their own private agendas for the hope of tomorrow that has captured their hearts.

A poignant love story set amidst the tumultuous Vietnam War.

Bio:  Educated in Bermuda, England and Canada, Catherine holds a degree in English from the University of Toronto. When she’s not at the computer working on her next story, you can find her taking her Border Collie for long walks or tending to her roses and orchids. Catherine and her husband live on the beautiful island of Bermuda, with their two college-aged children. Catherine is a member of Romance Writers of America, and American Christian Fiction Writers, and is a founding member of International Christian Fiction Writers. Catherine’s debut novel Yesterday’s Tomorrow, released in March 2011 through
OakTara Publishers. Catherine’s next novel, Hidden in the Heart, will be available in the near future, also through OakTara.

View the book trailer ‘here’:  http://www.youtube.com/watch?feature=player_embedded&v=vVQUMRlYhkM

Read an Excerpt from Yesterday’s Tomorrow.

Endorsements:

”This compelling love story set against the backdrop of the Vietnam War transported me through recent history. Cathy West’s debut novel is beautifully crafted and thoroughly engaging!”  ––Deborah Raney, author of the Clayburn Novels and Almost Forever

”YESTERDAY’S TOMORROW is filled with action, emotion and splendid imagery which captivates the reader from the get-go. ” –Don Brown, Author of Zondervan’s NAVY JUSTICE SERIES http://www.donbrown.com

”Heartwrenching! Powerful! In Yesterday’s Tomorrow, Catherine West spans seas and generations to report on the Perfect Love Who will never let go.
Don’t miss this poignant debut novel.”–Patti Lacy Author of The Rhythm of Secrets http://www.pattilacy.com

My Review:

In light of just celebrating Veteran’s Day on 11/11/11, Yesterday’s Tomorrow by Catherine West gives credence to Vietnam Veterans, a group of veterans who have mostly been forgotten or ridiculed.  They gave their lives for a cause, put themselves in personal danger, and suffered mentally, spiritually, physically, and emotionally.  PTSD (Post Traumatic Stress Disorder) was identified from this war.  Schnurr, Lunney, and Sengupta[46] identified risk factors for the development of PTSD in Vietnam veterans. (Source:http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Posttraumatic_stress_disorder)

Catherine weaves a thread of romance in her book through the eyes of independent, career-driven journalist, Kristin Taylor, out to finish a job her father had started, and superb photographer, Luke Maddox, silent and brooding, seemingly holding out on a secret mission that needed exposing.  Their romance helped to alleviate some of the trauma of reading about the horrors and atrocities of the war.

The romance itself was traumatic, too, due to the circumstances, but also the brooding and hot temper of the characters.  Lack of sleep added to the tension, which was palpable in Catherine’s characters.  The full breath of their relationship is heartrending at times.

Personally knowing men who have come back from Vietnam, I am acquainted with the stresses of the war and the resulting turmoil, especially those in combat, search and rescue, and physicians and their nurses.  Catherine did an excellent job of describing the horrifying experiences of the war and its toll on the men and women serving, as well as the war correspondents.  It made me think about whether I would have the courage to engage in war as they did.  Personally convicting.

Catherine’s inclusion of humor was appreciated to lower the emotional trauma of reading about the wartime circumstances and to bring some sanity into the midst of the insanity of the war.  The web of faith spread by the ‘Preacher’ ultimately kept many of the men and women striving for resolution and hope for healing.  In fact, I just heard this week that they are providing ‘stick Bibles’ (technological forms of the New Testament) for the men and women overseas today, giving them hope through Christ during their stressful times.

A great book to help understand PTSD in loved ones and encouraging them to receive help for their very real symptoms.

This book was provided by Catherine West through This Is A Blog About Books in exchange for my honest review.  No monetary compensation was exchanged.

Sarah Sundin: “Blue Skies Tomorrow”~~~Revell Blog Tour

Published August 21, 2011 by One Desert Rose

War Widow Fights The Past, American Pilot Fights For The Future

The country is still at war in Blue Skies Tomorrow (ISBN: 978-0-8007-3423-7, $14.99, 448 pages, August 2011) by award-winning author Sarah Sundin. It is 1944 and America longs for the war to be over so their boys can come home. This war has taken too many lives and made too many widows, orphans, and broken hearts. However, the homeland continues to pull together and buy bonds to support the troops, and Helen Carlisle has become the town’s war widow heroine. Doing her part with her son, she faithfully appears at community events asking people to support the troops. But deep down she is troubled. How much longer can she do this? Is she living a lie? Was her dead husband a hero? How can she live with the past?

Lt. Ray Novak prefers to follow his calling into ministry rather than the cockpit. But his current position offers him the luxury of a personal life since he is stateside training B-17 pilots. His interest in Helen, the young war widow, grows, but he knows she is hiding a painful past under a frenzy of volunteer work. Ray is called to fly a European combat mission at the peak of the air war. Their romance is tense because Helen is afraid, but Ray cannot help because he is in Europe. As Helen tries to make ends meet and confronts the past, Ray encounters a deadly enemy of his own. Will they find the courage to face their challenges? Will the truth come out? Will hope and redemption ring true for Helen?

The great era of World War II in Blue Skies Tomorrow is brought to life by Sundin in this emotion-packed novel.

Sarah Sundin received the 2011 Writer of the Year Award from the Mount Hermon Christian Writers Conference, and her second novel, A Memory Between Us, is a finalist for an Inspirational Readers’ Choice Award.  She is the author of A Distant Melody and A Memory Between Us. Her great-uncle flew with the US Eighth Air Force in England during WWII. Sarah lives in California with her husband and three children. For more interesting information about Sarah visit: sarahsundin.com

Sarah’s Tour of a B-17 Bomber:  http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=gAakIooyXfY&feature=player_embedded

Revell, a division of Baker Publishing Group, offers practical books that bring the Christian faith to everyday life.  They publish resources from a variety of well-known brands and authors, including their partnership with MOPS (Mothers of Preschoolers) and Hungry Planet.

My Review:

Sarah Sundin’s book, Blue Skies Tomorrow, is her best book yet!  Set in late 1944 Antioch, CA, and Bury St. Edwards Airfield, Suffolk, Sarah rolls out what appears to be an ambivalent romance due to entangled, horrific secrets and dangerous war missions.

Helen Carlisle lost her husband as a casualty of the war in the Pacific.  She throws herself into war efforts’ volunteering while trying to conceal her true feelings.

Lt. Raymond Novak is stationed in Antioch, pushing paperwork after being relieved of his pilot training position because he had not served overseas, all the while wanting to be in the ministry.  He’s considered a coward because of his fear of serving overseas.

Novak and Carlyle meet and sparks fly, with a passion that needed to be controlled.  However, it’s an on-again, off again relationship for reasons unknown to Novak, so he joins the Air Force overseas, thinking she, too, sees him as a coward.

If you love to read about war efforts and strategic missions during WWII, Sarah has it all in her book.  It’s fast-paced, with danger from all directions.  The flow of the story keeps you turning the pages.  Your heart is wrapped up in the personal accounts of the servicemen engaged in battle, with twists that endanger the men just when you think all is going well.

While Novak is gone, Helen has to decide if she’ll wait for him or be romanced by other men; that is, when her former father-in-law allows her to!  That home life is another aspect that will keep your heart pumped with multiple feelings!

Sarah outdid herself with the romantic tension, war missions, faith issues, and Helen’s home situation.  There are several twists that you don’t see coming and they explode in ways you wouldn’t imagine.  Can Helen and Ray overcome the berating and dangerous obstacles, or will another steal Helen’s heart before he gets a chance to?  Will his faith in God overcome what he needs to engage in?

This is the third book of Sarah’s Wings of Glory series.  The first being A Distant Melody and the second A Memory Between Us.  They stand alone, but you will want to read all three!  Again, Blue Skies Tomorrow is the best of the three for me!

This book was provided by Donna Hausler, Publicity Assistant at Baker Publishing in exchange for my honest review.  No monetary compensation was exchanged.

“Available August 2011 at your favorite bookseller from Revell, a division of Baker Publishing Group.”

Revell Blog Tour: “The Colonel’s Lady” by Laura Frantz

Published August 15, 2011 by One Desert Rose

Imminent Danger and Spy Leaks Endanger Fort Endeavor, While Secrets Endanger Love Interests Within a Tormented Heart!

To the trail-weary and frightened women, Fort Endeavor seemed unwelcoming at first, but Roxanna Rowan  knew they needed to get to safety as quickly as possible in The Colonel’s Lady (ISBN: 978-0-8007-3341-4, $14.99, 416 pages, August 2011) by bestselling author Laura Frantz. Deep within the Kentucky Territory, Fort Endeavor could provide a new life for genteel spinster Roxanna as long as she was with her father.   She had to find him in the mass of all these soldiers. But where was he?

Shortly after arriving at the Kentucky fort commanded by Colonel Cassius McLinn, the Colonel tells Roxanna that her officer father has died. Penniless and destitute, Roxanna accepts the Scrivener position once held by her father.  Before long, Roxanna discovers secrets that her father uncovered shortly before his death. Who could she trust with this discovery that she found in her father’s Scrivener desk? Could she trust the Colonel? Was his attraction to her real or was he hiding his own secrets including her father’s death? Roxanna needed answers that only the Colonel could provide.

Set in 1779 The Colonel’s Lady is a powerful and emotion-packed story full of love, suspense, intrigue, faith, and forgiveness from reader favorite Laura Frantz. Her solid research and skillful writing immerse readers in the world of the early frontier while her realistic characters become intimate friends.

Laura Frantz credits her grandmother as being the catalyst for her fascination with Kentucky history. Frantz’s family followed Daniel Boone into Kentucky in the late eighteenth century and settled in Madison County, where her family still resides. Frantz is the author of The Frontiersman’s Daughter and Courting Morrow Little and currently lives in the misty woods of Washington with her husband and two sons. More information about Laura at: http://www.laurafrantz.net

 Endorsements:

“Portrays the wild beauty of frontier life, along with its dangers and hardships, in vivid detail.” – Ann H. Gabhart, bestselling author of The Blessed, Angel Sister, and The Seeker

“Vivid and Poetic…you’ll disappear into another place and time.”Jane Kirkpatrick, bestselling author of All Together in One Place and Flickering Light

Revell, a division of Baker Publishing Group, offers practical books that bring the Christian faith to everyday life.  They publish resources from a variety of well-known brands and authors, including their partnership with MOPS (Mothers of Preschoolers) and Hungry Planet.

My Review:

Laura Frantz’s book, The Colonel’s Lady, has to be one of the best historical fiction romance books, set in the 1779 frontier territories, I’ve ever read! The dangers surrounding Fort Endeavor, with the Indian raids, the British attacks, court-marshals, spies, campaigns, and food shortages are just the tip of the iceberg.  The romantic tension between Roxanna Rowan and Colonel Cassius McLinn is palpable throughout all the whole book and is superbly written!

Being forced to remain at Fort Endeaver, where secrets are exposed, Roxanna’s love, faith and forgiveness are stretched to the max in dealing with the death of her father and her attraction to the Colonel.  Laura catches all the emotional nuances that can be imagined in this difficult situation. They entrap you in the personal lives of the characters, leaving you to ride the emotional roller coaster with them.

The suspense revolving around her father’s secret journal identifying a spy in the Fort makes for another great aspect to the story.  Since the last pages were torn out, Roxanna wonders who she can trust.

Truly a remarkable, realistic story line.  A definite must for historical romance readers!

This book was provided by Donna Hausler, Publicity Assistant at Baker Publishing Group in exchange for my honest review.  No monetary compensation was exchanged.

Bethany House Historical: “The Sweetest Thing” by Elizabeth Musser

Published July 11, 2011 by One Desert Rose

A Touching Story of Friendship and Faith During the Depression

Anne “Perri” Singleton’s world is defined by the security of family, the camaraderie of friends at an exclusive Atlanta girls’ school, and an enviable social life. She isn’t looking for new friends when Mary Dobbs Dillard arrives from Chicago. Besides, “Dobbs,” the passionate and fiercely individualistic daughter of an itinerant minister, is her opposite in every way.

But just as the Great Depression collides disastrously with Perri’s well-ordered life, friendship blossoms–a friendship that will be tested by jealousy, betrayal, and family secrets…

With her endearing characters and poignant storytelling, Atlanta native Elizabeth Musser vividly re-creates the charm of her beloved city amid the poverty and plenty that shaped the 1930s.

Price: $14.99
ISBN: 978-0-7642-0831-7
ISBN-10: 0-7642-0831-4
Dimensions: 5.5 x 8.5
Number of pages: 400
Carton Quantity: 32
Publication Date: Jun. 11
Formats: Paperback

Elizabeth Musser, an Atlanta native, lives in southern France with her husband and their two sons. Her acclaimed novel, The Swan House, was a Book Sense bestseller list in the Southeast and was selected as one of the top Christian books for 2001 by Amazon’s editors. Searching for Eternity is her sixth novel. Visit Elizabeth’s Web site at www.elizabethmusser.com

Endorsement:

The Sweetest Thing is a touching story of friendship and faith. Musser’s characters are as real and as unforgettable as the friends I grew up with.”
Lynn Austin, bestselling author of While We’re Far Apart

My Review:

Elizabeth Musser, in her book, The Sweetest Thing, gives you a very personal, bird’s-eye view of life during the Depression years in different parts of the country in the early 1930s.

It’s a book of contrasts:  Anne “Perri” Singleton’s wealthy socialite family and Mary Dobbs Dillard’s poor family whose father is an itinerant pastor;   Anne who has a well-ordered, busy social life and Mary who is an outspoken individualist;  and the possibility of polar opposites becoming friends.

When disaster strikes Perri’s life, Mary is there to encourage her with her faith in God.  When sickness and secrets strikes Mary’s life, she questions and doubts her faith.  Jealousy, betrayal, and family secrets eventually causes an estranged in their friendship.  But it’s faith that comes from the least likely source that will surprise you through the end of the story.

The ups and downs of the girls’ friendship are typical for the circumstances and age of the girls.  They seem very familiar.  The descriptions of the calamities that befall some of the families are well-developed and so very real.  The destitution during the Depression is palpable and realistic. The mystery that is woven into the story keeps the pages turning!

A point I failed to mention earlier is that I loved the point of view rambling back and forth between Perri and Dobbs regarding the same episode, depicting their specific frame of mind about the circumstances transpiring.  It felt like you were eavesdropping!  Made for a fantastic read.

God’s intervention stands out in ways that shouldn’t surprise a believer, yet in ways it does.  God is faithful, just not always in how we expect.  Trust in God is the main emphasis that comes to my mind in the midst of trying circumstances in Elizabeth’s story.  Along with the faith, love and help of people when desperate times hit those they have come to love.

Friendship and the faithfulness of God are The Sweetest Thing.

This book was provided by Jim Hart of Bethany House in exchange for my honest review.

“The Fence My Father Built” by Linda S. Clare

Published June 6, 2011 by One Desert Rose

Finding Your Way Home!

Product Description:  In The Fence My Father Built, when legally separated Muri Pond, a librarian, hauls her kids, teenage Nova and eleven year-old Truman, out to the tiny town of Murkee, Oregon, where her father, Joe Pond lived and died, she’s confronted by a neighbor’s harassment over water rights and Joe’s legacy: a fence made from old oven doors.

The fence and accompanying house trailer horrify rebellious Nova, who runs away to the drug-infested streets of Seattle. Muri searches for her daughter and for something to believe in, all the while trying to save her inheritance from the conniving neighbor who calls her dad Chief Joseph. Along with Joe’s sister, Aunt Lutie, and the Red Rock Tabernacle Ladies, Muri must rediscover the faith her alcoholic dad never abandoned in order to reclaim her own spiritual path.

Bio:  Linda S. Clare  is an award-winning coauthor of three books, including Lost Boys and the Moms Who Love Them (with Melody Carlson and Heather Kopp), Revealed: Spiritual Reality in a Makeover World, and Making Peace with a Dangerous God (with Kristen Johnson Ingram). She has also published many essays, stories, and poems in publications including The Christian Reader, The Denver Post, and The Philadelphia Inquirer. Linda grew up in a part of Arizona, where the dirt is as red as it is in Central Oregon. She graduated summa cum laude in Art Education from Arizona State University and taught in public and private schools. She has taught college-level creative writing classes for seven years, and edits and mentors writers. She also is a frequent writing conference presenter and church retreat leader. She and her husband of thirty-one years have four grown children, including a set of twins. They live in Eugene, Oregon, with their five wayward cats: Oliver, Xena the Warrior Kitty, Paladine, Melchior, and Mamma Mia!

See Linda’s trailer for The Fence My Father Built here.

(Description and Bio information came from Amazon.)

Endorsement:

“Linda has an amazing voice…her artful descriptions and clever wit will capture you into a story that you’ll remember long after you close the book.” –Melody Carlson, Bestselling Author

My Review:

Muri Pond is in the midst of a divorce from Chaz when she receives word of her father, Joseph Pond’s, death and the issues surrounding her inherited property.  The land she inherited consisted of a dilapidated trailer where her Aunt Lutie and Uncle Tiny live, where they cared for Joseph until he died, as well as a creek and the legal problems surrounding the creek (‘liquid gold’).  She arrived with all belongings and her two children, Nova, 15, and Truman (Tru), 11.  Attitudes clashed between mother and daughter the whole way out there and beyond!

Lincoln Jackson (Linc) owns everything in and around Murkee except Joseph Pond’s land and creek and Rubin Jonto’s land, which Linc is pressuring to acquire.  Everyone has acquiesced to Linc except Rubin and Joseph, and he now expects Muri to fold.  But she is her father’s daughter!

Because of his drunkenness, Joseph had lost communication with Muri shortly after she turned three, when his wife left him and remarried. Linda’s book, The Fence My Father Built, is the tender story of the struggling issues Muri has regarding her dad and finding his heart for her after so many years apart, the first through years of love for him and then eventual hatred.  You go through the throes of love, anger, loss, rejection, and loneliness that a child, now an adult, has to reconcile with, along with the legal issues about the ranch thrown in.  The story is told through the voice and heart of Muri, along with the voice and heart of her father through his journal.  Definitely touches your heart.

The struggles of  the ranchers that need the ‘liquid gold,’ the greed of one man who threatens to take that land through legal means, which appears to go beyond just the title to the creek, are aptly described for this dry, dusty country.  The tension and animosity are palpable between the characters.  However, Linda tosses in a sweet romance to take the edge off the ugly issues brewing.

I loved the story for the rich history of the land, the personal reconciliation that Muri needed to work through, the touching story of the love of a father for his daughter, and the faith and truth that binds it all together.  The ‘Fence” adds a delightful touch of character to the story.  ‘Finding your way home’ has a double meaning that everyone needs to find.

This book was provided by Linda S. Clare in exchange for my honest review.  No monetary compensation was exchanged.

You can purchase Linda’s book here and here.

“Masquerade” by Nancy Moser

Published October 4, 2010 by One Desert Rose

Love Only Flourishes in Truth…

Masquerade

Masquerade by Nancy Moser/Bethany House

ISBN: 978-0-7642-0751-8/400 pages/ softcover/ $14.99

Book Blurb:

They risk it all for adventure and romance, but find that love only flourishes in truth….

1886.  Charlotte Gleason embarks from England with conflicting emotions.  She is headed for New York to marry one of America’s wealthiest heirs–a man she has never even met.  When her doubts gain the upper hand, she swaps identities with her maid, Dora Connors.  She wants a chance at “real life,” even if it means giving up financial security.  For Charlotte, it’s a risk she’s willing to take.  But what begins as the whim of a spoiled rich girl becomes a test of survival beyond her blackest nightmare.

For Dora, it’s the chance of a lifetime.  She is thrust into a fairy tale amid ball gowns and lavish mansions, yet is tormented by the possibility of discovery–and humiliation.  And what of the man who believes she is indeed his intended?  Is this what her heart truly longs for?

Image of Nancy Moser

Bio:

Nancy Moser is the award-winning author of twenty-one novels that focus on the characters discovering their unique purpose. Her genres include both contemporary and historical stories. Her contemporary books are known for their big-cast utilization of multiple points-of-view and intricate plotting. She’s earned a degree in architecture, traveled extensively in Europe, and has performed in numerous theaters, symphonies, and choirs. She gives Said So Sister Seminars around the country, helping women identify their gifts as they celebrate their sisterhood. She paints canes voraciously, kills all her houseplants, and can wire an electrical fixture without getting shocked. She is a fan of anything antique–humans included. Find out more at www.nancymoser.com and www.sistercircles.com.

My Review:

It’s 1886 England. Charlotte Gleason’s life as a wealthy socialite’s daughter will end if she stays in England, for reasons unrelated to her own doings.  Her father and mother have ‘arranged’ for her to marry Conrad Tremaine, son and heir of one of the wealthiest men in America and the owner of Tremaine’s Dry Goods store,  a five-story building in New York City which encompasses an entire city block.  A strong-minded Charlotte decides she wants to marry ‘for love,’ not wealth and society.  The Tremaines, however,  presumptuously send two, first-class tickets for the steamship Etruria.

Dora Connors has been Charlotte’s personal maid for more than seven years. When Charlotte’s mother is taken ill, Dora is assigned to accompany Charlotte to NYC as her friend.  The steamship ride alone is a great story, but it’s only the half of it.

True to her self-centered nature, Charlotte convinces Dora to take her place as the bride-to-be of Conrad, while Charlotte (Lottie) seeks to make life happen her own way once they arrive in America.  Dora becomes Charlotte Gleason, and Charlotte becomes Lottie Hathaway.

Circumstances change in a hurry, leaving Lottie alone and abandoned.  Her ‘half-prayers’ remind her of God’s promise ‘to watch over her.’  Dora (now Charlotte Gleason), on the other hand, is drenched in the luxury of society’s elite at the Tremaine’s, albeit living in angst of being ‘discovered’ and thus humiliated.

Masquerade was a very insightful read.   It takes you on a disturbing distinction that distinguishing the elegantly rich socialites and the poor, ‘the haves’ and the ‘have-nots’ through the role-reversals of the young ladies, that were initially meant to find Charlotte her ideal plans for her life in America.

Reminiscent of The Prince and the Pauper, with a little Gone With The Wind verbiage, Masquerade has deeper spiritual, emotional, relational,  and physical consequences when both young women choose to deliberately deceive.  Sir Walter Scott’s “Oh what a tangled web we weave, When first we practice to deceive’… becomes a truism to be dealt with.

The depiction of the poor in America in 1886 appears to be as horrific as today’s homelessness.  The poor that Jesus is ever so aware of and wants us to care for, both physically and spiritually.

With roles reversed, will the young ladies “find” themselves? Make it on their own?  Or will they metamorph into the young ladies God intended them to be?

To add to the pleasure of the book, the author delineates the actual historical data that she based her novel on, along with pictures of some gowns worn during that time frame.

This book was provided free by Jim at Bethany House in exchange for my honest review.

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