Wednesday, April 17, 2013

"Dandelions on the Wind" Review

When Maren Jensen arrived in America as a mail-order bride, she never expected to find herself alone, with failing eyesight, and without a way back to her home country of Denmark. As the Civil War comes to an end, Maren finds her way to the Brantenberg farm outside Saint Charles, Missouri, where Mrs. Bratenberg and her granddaughter, Gabi, quickly take Maren into their home and their hearts.

Rutherford “Woolly” Wainwright regrets the years he spent away from his daughter and his home, partly due to the war, but mostly due to his own inability to deal with the death of his beloved wife. Upon his return to Saint Charles, Rutherford discovers just how difficult it might be to reconnect with the mother-in-law and daughter he has been away from for so long. He also wasn’t prepared to come face-to-face with another facet of his life in the person of Maren Jensen – the possibility of love.

Dandelions on the Wind is the first novella in a series of three by Mona Hodson. “The Quilted Heart” series of novellas is leading up to the launch of Ms. Hodson’s next series, “Hearts Seeking Home,” coming this summer.

Novellas are not always my favorite to read because you usually don’t get to know or care about the characters very well and things normally move too quickly. In this novella, though, I did feel as if I was able to get to know at least the main characters well, even at the beginning. I cared about them almost immediately, and I sympathized with Marin and her failing eyesight. When the author wrote from Marin’s point of view, she really put you in the position of someone who is battling the loss of her sight. Rutherford’s character was not as sympathetic at the beginning, but as I kept reading, I realized that he was flawed, just as we all are. He had made mistakes that he now regretted and was trying to move past them in faith. I also appreciated how both Maren and Rutherford, when presented with difficult circumstances, turned to the Bible for comfort and help.

While I thought this novella was great in the main character development part, the romance part of it moved way too quickly. I realize that this is just going to be a fact of life for a novella – you only have so many pages, after all. But the time for Marin and Rutherford to fall in love was so very fast. I guess I’ll just chalk that one up to page count, circumstances, and the historical time period.

I think one reason that I don’t always enjoy novellas is because they seem to just skim the surface. I actually would have enjoyed a full-length novel with these characters and circumstances!

The historical setting of this novel was very interesting to me. Saint Charles seems like a fascinating city, especially since it was the starting off point for so many wagon trains that traveled west. I also liked the concept of the quilting circle. It was encouraging to see how these women had stuck by each other during the hard time of the Civil War, which had just recently ended. However, I thought the quilting circle aspect wasn’t quite fleshed out enough. There was only one scene that I remember that actually took place during the quilting circle time. The rest of the time it was only mentioned in passing.

Overall, I enjoyed this first offering of three novellas in “The Quilted Heart” series. It was a touching story, and I look forward to reading Emilie’s story in the next one.

I will give Dandelions on the Wind ... 3½ BookWorms.

Dandelions on the Wind
by Mona Hodgson
"The Quilted Heart" Novella Series #1
WaterBrook Press
111 pages
Release date: February 19, 2013

Disclosure of Material Connection: I received this book free from WaterBrook 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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