Wednesday, August 8, 2012

"Promise Me This" Review

About the Book: Michael Dunnagan was never supposed to sail on the Titanic, nor would he have survived if not for the courage of Owen Allen. Determined to carry out his promise to care for Owen’s relatives in America and his younger sister, Annie, in England, Michael works hard to strengthen the family’s New Jersey garden and landscaping business.

Annie Allen doesn’t care what Michael promised Owen. She only knows that her brother is gone—like their mother and father—and the grief is enough to swallow her whole. As Annie struggles to navigate life without Owen, Michael reaches out to her through letters. In time, as Annie begins to lay aside her anger that Michael lived when Owen did not, a tentative friendship takes root and blossoms into something neither expected. Just as Michael saves enough money to bring Annie to America, WWI erupts in Europe. When Annie’s letters mysteriously stop, Michael risks everything to fulfill his promise—and find the woman he’s grown to love—before she’s lost forever.

About the Author: Cathy Gohlke is the two-time Christy Award–winning author of William Henry Is a Fine Name and I Have Seen Him in the Watchfires, which was also chosen by Library Journal as one of the Best Books of 2008. Cathy and her husband live on the banks of the Laurel Run in Elkton, Maryland. Visit her website at

My Take:

I have never been a fan of stories about the Titanic, nor am I a fan of war stories. So, why did I choose this novel (which has both) to review? Actually, I'm not really sure. Something about the description pulled me in, and I really wanted to know what would happen to Michael and Annie.

The best part of this book was the characters, for the most part. Owen was by far my favorite, and I was actually disappointed that I got to know him so well. Michael and Annie both experience such profound growth over the years, and Aunt Maggie and Daniel were endearing. I did think, though, that the 'bad guy' character of Annie's Aunt Eleanor was way over the top. There is no way someone during that time period would (or be able to) hold that much power over someone else. It seemed out of place. I felt so bad that these characters had to deal with the Titanic disaster, WWI, and and evil aunt all in the same book.

The historical part of this novel is extremely detailed and sucks the reader right into the time period. I appreciate the author's ability to stay true to the history while writing a captivating story.

At 416 pages, this novel is a long one, and I wonder if it was a bit ambitious to cover the sinking of the Titanic plus WWI all in one novel. But what was most frustrating to me about this novel was that even though it was long, the summary on the back of the book tells the reader almost two-thirds of the story. I felt as if the novel was extra long since it seemed as if I already knew what was going to happen for most of the book.

I also thought that a lot of the story was just too descriptive for me. This is why I normally avoid novels about Titanic and wars, because the scenes are too gritty for me to read. While I enjoyed the story, and I was interested in what would happen to the characters, I sometimes skimmed scenes that were extremely descriptive in this way.

Promise Me This is a sweeping (and ambitious) saga of love, loss, and ultimately faith through it all.

I will give Promise Me This ... 3 BookWorms.

Disclosure of Material Connection: I received this book free from Tyndale House Publishers and NetGalley. 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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