Tuesday, May 14, 2013

"Be Still My Soul" Review

Night’s chill tickled her skin. Lonnie pressed her hands together and glanced up. He was even more handsome up close. Having grown up the shy, awkward daughter of Joel Sawyer, she’d hardly spoken to any boy, let alone the one who had mothers whispering warnings in their daughter’s ears and fathers loading shotguns.

Pretty Lonnie Sawyer is shy and innocent, used to fading into the background within her family, and among the creeks and hollows of the Appalachian hills. Though her family is poor and her father abusive, she clings to a quiet faith. But when handsome ladies’ man and bluegrass musician Gideon O’Riley steals a kiss, that one action seals her fate.

Her father forces her into a hasty marriage with Gideon—a man she barely knows and does not love. Equally frustrated and confused by his new responsibilities, Gideon yearns for a fresh start, forcing Lonnie on an arduous journey away from her home in Rocky Knob.

Her distant groom can’t seem to surrender his rage at the injustice of the forced matrimony or give Lonnie any claim in his life. What will it take for Gideon to give up his past, embrace Lonnie’s God, and discover a hope that can heal their two fractured hearts?

Gideon only ever cared about himself. Now that Lonnie is his wife, will he ever be worthy of her heart?

About the Author: Married to her first sweetheart, Joanne Bischof lives in the mountains of Southern California where she keeps busy making messes with their home-schooled children. When she’s not weaving Appalachian romance, she’s blogging about faith, writing, and the adventures of country living that bring her stories to life. Be Still My Soul is her first novel.

My Take:

The thing that struck me most in this novel is that the author’s writing is very descriptive. While I am not always a fan of flowery writing, I thought it was well done in this novel. It really makes the reader feel as if he/she is right there experiencing the surroundings with the characters.
One of my pet peeves in historical fiction is when the time and place of the novel is vague. The reader knows that this story is taking place in the Blue Ridge Mountains by reading the summary on the back of the book, but that is all. The time and place is not explicitly stated at the beginning, and there are not enough context clues along the way to really pin down the year very well. At one point towards the end of the book, the state of Virginia is mentioned, but it is only in passing. My guess would be that this novel takes places in the early 1900’s, but I really don’t know that for sure. It is frustrating because that is such a simple thing that the author can add to the beginning of a book, and it won’t detract from the story one bit.

The main plot of this book is one that has been done before in Christian fiction, but it is one that I like. I will say that this particular novel had a unique approach in how the two main characters came to be married. I appreciate when a couple in a romantic story has to learn to love each other. It makes things more realistic than the usual love-at-first-sight type books.
Even though the main plot was interesting, I thought the overall feeling of the book was just too sad and depressing. I appreciate when an author does this in order to keep things real, but I read for enjoyment and for entertainment. When almost the entire book revolves around things that are extremely sad and seem to have no hope, then my enjoyment of the book is lessened.

I also would have liked to have had a little bit more background to the main characters. I knew what was happening to them, but I didn’t always understand their motivations, which kept me from connecting with them as well.
Even though much of this book was disheartening, the ending did give the reader more hope for the future and that Lonnie and Gideon might be able to experience true joy in their lives.

I will give Be Still My Soul … 2 ½ BookWorms.

Disclosure of Material Connection: I received this book free from WaterBrook Publishers through Blogging for Books. 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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