Friday, April 13, 2012

"Heart of Glass" Review

Heart of Glass by Jill Marie Landis was sent to me as an advance review copy by Zondervan Publishing. It is the third book in the “Irish Angel” series by this author. You can read my reviews of the first two books in this series, Heart of Stone and Heart of Lies on my blog.
Because of the resources of her wealthy adoptive parents, Kate Keene was able to escape the effects of the Civil War. After spending time in Boston and in Ireland studying architecture, she returns to her home in New Orleans, armed with plans to renovate her childhood friend Amelie’s beloved plantation home. When she arrives, she is quite shocked to discover someone else has taken up residence there. And he does not want any visitors.
Colin Delany returned to Louisiana because he had nowhere else to go. After fighting for the Confederacy, Colin joined the ranks of the US Army only to be wounded by an Indian arrow out West. Upon arriving at his childhood home, Colin, bitter and angry, sequesters himself in a small cottage on the property, and turns away everyone who tries to help him.
But Kate Keene isn’t one to just walk away from a challenge. She remembers how she used to dream of her best friend’s older brother (Colin), and she hopes to be able to talk some sense into him. When Amelie also arrives at the plantation, deathly ill and with two children in tow, Colin and Kate’s lives become more complicated than they ever thought possible. Will their hearts be able to withstand what lies ahead, or will they once again be shattered like broken glass?
Before I start my review of this book, let me give you a little background on the first two books in this series. While each story technically stands on its own, there is an overarching storyline that is weaved throughout the whole series.
In the first book, the reader is made aware of four young Irish sisters living in New Orleans who have recently been orphaned. An uncle takes them in, but he soon realizes that he cannot continue to provide for all of them. Leaving the youngest two at an orphanage, he takes the two oldest sisters, Lovie and Megan, to a brothel. Heart of Stone is Lovie’s story of how she overcame her horrid past and found a new life and a new love in Texas.
In Heart of Lies, we learn that the next sister, Megan, escaped the brothel but was instead raised in a band of street urchins in New Orleans. Megan, now called Maddie, has no idea where she came from or who she really is; all she knows is how to steal and lie. When she gets caught up in a kidnapping, the detective on the case realizes who she might be. Maddie’s older sister, Lovie (now called Laura), has been searching for her, and the second book is the story of Maddie’s life and Laura’s search for her.
Now, having said all of that, I will get to this book, Heart of Glass. Kate is the third sister who was orphaned as a child, but she was fortunate enough to be adopted by a wealthy banker and his wife. Kate grew up in New Orleans, but actually spent most of her time with her best friend, Amelie, on their plantation. She also harbored a crush on Amelie’s older brother, Colin, who she is now trying to convince to renovate his home and get the plantation back up and running.
If this storyline sounds intricate, it’s because it is. I wouldn’t say it was hard to follow, but there definitely was a lot going on. So much so that this novel doesn’t even get to the part of the story where Laura and Maddie, Kate’s older sisters, are looking for her. That doesn’t happen until the epilogue of this book, which I thought was a bit disappointing. In the first and second books, that was an integral part of the plot, but Heart of Glass has its own story separate from the search, all the way to the end.
What I liked about this novel was that the story and characters were interesting. I don’t read a lot of Civil War-era or Reconstruction-era books, so I’m not an expert, but I thought the plot of this novel was more original than some. Kate is determined to rebuild her friend’s home; Colin is even more determined for her to leave. Throw in a marriage of convenience and two kids, and the story ramps up even more, but all of this ‘action’ kept things moving along.
The characters in this book were interesting and written well. Although I know Colin’s brooding male protagonist role has been done time and time again, he was still likable. I enjoyed Kate’s determination and her ability to make it in a man’s world (the field of architecture), even if I didn’t relate to her years of mooning over her childhood crush (Colin).
As far as the spiritual side of things is concerned, this one didn’t have much depth, but it didn’t completely leave God out of the equation, either. At times I felt as if Colin saw Kate as his savior rather than Christ. But this is a good reminder of how caught up we can get in things and in people rather than attributing our salvation to the One who truly rescued us from death.
Heart of Glass was an interesting story told during a fascinating time in the history of the South. It was easy to read, and I look forward to hearing the last of the sisters’ story in the next book.

I will give Heart of Glass … 3 ½ BookWorms

Disclosure of Material Connection: I received this book free from Zondervan Publishers. I was not required to write a positive review. The opinions I have expressed are my own. I am disclosing this is accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s 16 CFR, Part 255: "Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising."

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