Saturday, December 15, 2012

"Lovelier than Daylight" Review

Susanna Hanby arrives at her sister Rachel’s home expecting to spend some time with her before heading back to Otterbein College in the fall. But what she finds at her sister’s home is far from expected. Rachel and her children have disappeared, and her alcoholic husband, George, is not talking. Desperate to learn the truth, Susanna departs for Westerville, Ohio, earlier than expected and elicits the help of her aunt and uncle, Ann & Will Hanby.

The son of a successful German brewer, Johann Giere is expected to take over the family business. But what he really wants is to be in journalism. When he encounters the beautiful and feisty Susanna Hanby while delivering a supply of lager to a new saloon in Westerville, Johann is intrigued, both with Susanna and with the story of the temperance movement in Westerville.

Susanna and Johann form an incongruous friendship while the temperance battle wages all around them – and they seem to be on opposing sides. When Susanna finds herself in need of Johann’s help in rescuing her nieces and nephews, she must decide whether she should follow her head or her heart.

Lovelier than Daylight is a fictional story based on the Westerville Whiskey War of 1875, and is the third and final book in the Saddler’s Legacy series by Rosslyn Elliott.

When I read the first book in the Saddler’s Legacy series, Fairer than Morning, I was completely captivated. It was the best Christian Historical Fiction book I had read in a long time. I equally enjoyed the next in the series, Sweeter than Birdsong, which is why I was really looking forward to this final book in the series.

I really don’t think that Lovelier than Daylight quite captivated me as much as the first two, but it was still excellent.

This book got my attention right off the bat when Susanna arrives at Rachel’s home and discovers (according to her drunk husband George) that Rachel left town and place the children in an orphanage. After Susanna travels to Westerville, however, the story slowed way down for me. I liked Johann right away, and I appreciated the set up that was given to the situation that was going on in Westerville. But for some reason it still seemed to drag. Once I got about a third to half of the way through the book, though, I couldn’t put it down.

There is a lot going on in this novel, even during the times that it seemed slow. This is especially true when it comes to some very thought-provoking issues such as drinking alcohol (the difference between enjoying an alcoholic beverage and getting drunk) and the temperance movement (protesting peacefully versus using acts of violence). I thought that the author did a great job of showing both sides of the issues without being too heavy-handed towards one or the other. Ultimately, however, the mercy, grace, and love of Christ and the wisdom of the Scriptures shone through as the best way to handle tough issues in our lives.

The characters in this novel were well thought out and likeable. I enjoyed the return of Will and Ann Hanby, and I really liked Johann, even though he came across as squeaky clean, in my opinion. He did have a few flaws that came out here and there, but it was ultimately Susanna who experienced the most growth. I really related to her thoughts and feelings, especially as it related to her demand for righteousness. She realizes that the things of the world have not been broken by a lack of righteousness, necessarily, but because of a lack of love. In other words, instead of always expecting legalistic morality from others, she should be extending mercy and grace and showing love to others just as Christ did.

Once the action got going in this novel, there was no slowing down. So many things happened to these poor people (on both sides of the issue) that I kept thinking that surely some part of the story has to have a good ending. It was so heartbreaking to read about Susanna’s nieces and nephews and their plight living in the orphanages and about the families who were so dramatically affected by alcoholism. Fortunately, when I did get to the end, I was very satisfied with how the book and the entire series wrapped up.

As I said before, I was not as engrossed in this novel as much as I was the first two in the series, but it was still a wonderful book. I look forward to the next series/novel from Rosslyn Elliott with great anticipation.

I will give Lovelier than Daylight … 4 BookWorms.

Disclosure of Material Connection: I received this book free from Thomas Nelson 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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