Friday, August 24, 2012

"Love Finds You in Mackinac Island, Michigan" Review

In 1894 everyone who was anyone in Chicago and Detroit left the hassles of the city to summer on Mackinac Island. For Elena Bissette, it is also an opportunity for her mother to ‘marry her off’ to the most eligible bachelor. Though she knows that her family’s financial troubles will most likely not allow it, Elena’s heart holds out the small hope that she can marry for love.

When Elena meets Chase at an abandoned lighthouse on the island, they discover a shared love for the night sky and God’s creation. But Elena doesn’t think that Chase will live up to her mother’s demanding expectations. Setting her sights on the wealthy Mr. Chester Darrington, Elena’s mother does everything she can to arrange a courtship, and Elena is caught in the middle.
Set on the beautiful and unique Mackinac Island, this latest title in the “Love Finds You” series tells of Elena’s struggle between duty to her parents and true love. The discovery of an almost one hundred-year-old diary also lends to the story as Chase and Elena puzzle over things that once took place on the island.

This is my first foray into the “Love Finds You” series of books. I’m not sure why it took me so long to read one of these, especially now that I have read the one set on Mackinac Island. What I appreciated most about this novel was that the setting was almost an additional character. The author obviously did her research, and I felt that she really captured the history and the novelty of this famous island of the Great Lakes.
The plot of this book has been done many times in Christian Historical Fiction – the daughter torn between love and what her parents want her to do – especially the aspect that she must save them all from financial ruin. But I didn’t mind that the plot was somewhat recycled. There were enough interesting characters and side plots to keep it fresh and enjoyable.  I especially liked Chester Darrington’s mother and her attitude towards the society in which she lived. The theme of not caring what others think about you and instead knowing who you are in Christ takes center stage, and this made the novel come to life more than others of the same type.

The addition of Elena and Chase’s interest in the heavens also set this novel apart from its counterparts, as did Chase’s investment in the latest inventions. It was fun to read about these things through the eyes of someone in 1894, and I liked how their intelligence and respect was what mostly attracted them to each other in the first place. I did think, however, that they fell in love awfully quickly. I think they only met at the lighthouse twice before they were both thinking those thoughts about the other.
Although I eventually settled in and enjoyed this novel, I did think that it started slowly. It was nice to be able to really get to know the characters, but once I felt comfortable with them, it was still a while before the story really gained its momentum. There was a lot of back story that was told about even minor characters that was kind of dull since I wasn’t experiencing it myself. While that was in keeping with all of the gossip that was going on in the society of that time, I still found it a bit tedious.

I also would have liked it better if the mystery with the diary at the lighthouse had come into play earlier on and had taken more of a major role in the novel as a whole. I liked that part of the story, and I was disappointed to not have a bit more of it.
Overall, though, I enjoyed this novel. It was a nice read that, once it got going, kept my interest and had characters that experienced growth and were endearing. The main characters were good, but I thought the minor characters great – very much true-to-life, whether in 1894 or 2012.

I have to mention one quote from the novel that, as a reviewer, I found very interesting. Elena, as a daughter of high society, constantly pictures herself as an actress on a stage, playing her part to please her parents and everyone else. After discovering one of the other girls gossiping about her, she wonders if she should set the storyteller straight, but then she realizes that it probably wouldn’t do any good. Then she thinks this thought: “A good actress never let the reviews bother her anyway.” Ha! I laughed out loud when I read that and wondered if this might just be a thought that the author has had at one time!

Love Finds You in Mackinac Island, Michigan, was my first in this series of novels, but it won’t be my last.

I will give this novel 3 ½ BookWorms.

This novel was sent to me as a review copy by Summerside Press. It released July 1, 2012.

Disclosure of Material Connection: I received this book free from Summerside Press. 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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