Tuesday, September 10, 2013

"The Miner's Lady" Review

When Chantel Panetta discovers that her younger sister, Isabella, has fallen in love with Orlando Calarco, she knows that trouble is in store. The Panettas and the Calarcos are old Italian families who have been enemies for generations. Even though the two families have managed to live in the same mining town for years, Chantel knows that the relationship between Isabella and Orlando will not be met with acceptance.

Chantel reluctantly agrees to help her sister as she and Orlando continue their relationship. What Chantel was not prepared for was Orlando’s older brother, Dante, and the sudden attraction she feels for him.

When tragedy after tragedy occurs at the mine and in the town, will the two families be able to put aside their decades-long feud and seek forgiveness and peace? And if not, what will that mean for the young couples and their hope for love?

Set in 1890 in Ely, Minnesota, The Miner’s Lady is the third book in the Land of Shining Water collection by Tracie Peterson.

I have enjoyed the history and characters that have been portrayed in this latest series by Tracie Peterson. (The Icecutter's Daughter & The Quarryman's Bride being the other two novels in the series). The Minnesota setting is very nice, and it’s really interesting to learn about different industries (ice cutting, quarry work, mining) and varied cultures.

In The Miner’s Lady, the families are Italian, and it was really fun to experience the culture and ways of life of Italian-American families in the 1890s. The descriptions of the food alone were enough to endear me to this book. I craved Italian food the entire time I was reading the book! I also enjoyed how Chantel and her mother spent their time making lace, or tatting. My grandmother used to do this, and it truly is a dying art.

The long-standing feud between the families in this novel sets up a Romeo and Juliet situation for the two young couples. This was a good plot set-up, and it was done very well. It was the focus of the novel, but it wasn’t so all-consuming that you felt as if you were reading Romeo and Juliet again.

I liked the main characters in this novel – Chantel, Dante, Isabella, and Orlando – but I can’t say that one of them really stood out in my mind as my favorite. Probably my favorite character in this novel was Dante’s grandmother. She was loving towards everyone, and her faith and heartfelt prayer helped to pull both families through some very tough times.

And there were indeed some tough times in this book. The families fighting, accidents at the mine, and troubles in the town all lent to disaster and heartbreak for the characters. Not all of this tragedy was without hope or without an ultimate faith in God, but sometimes that hope was a bit long in coming or was only hastily portrayed at the end. The ending of this book was very exciting and had me turning pages quickly, but it also seemed a bit rushed and not quite completely satisfying. This is a book in which I was really, really wanting an epilogue.

In this novel, you basically get two romances in one. Even though the relationship between Isabella and Orlando was established before the book began, their romance is still a focal point since it is their forbidden relationship that gets everything started in the first place. Their love for each other is strong, and it is heartwarming to see how they stick up for each other in the face of their families’ ire. As for Chantel and Dante’s relationship, it had a very interesting beginning. The only reason they even noticed each other was because they were trying to keep their brother/sister from having a relationship with their family’s enemy. It was so funny that they were attracted to each other but kept trying to convince themselves that they were not. Once their relationship progressed, however, I thought they fell in love too quickly. I didn’t really get the feeling that they spent much quality time together before they were declaring their love. I did like how Chantel and Dante shared a faith in Christ and how that was central to their relationship.

Another thing that didn’t quite fit to me was Marco’s storyline. Marco was one of Chantel’s brothers who also worked at the iron mine with the Panetta and Calarco men. His story seemed a bit out of place, especially with part of the book being told from his point of view. His story was interesting, but it didn’t seem to have anything to do with the overall plot except maybe to show the bad things (drinking, prostitution, violence) that existed during this time period in mining towns.

Overall, however, the themes of forgiveness and peace do shine through in this novel as does the necessity of having faith in Christ. It was also interesting to read about the cultures of Italian-American families during the early years of industry in the United States.

I will give The Miner’s Lady … 3 ½ BookWorms.

The Miner's Lady
by Tracie Peterson
Land of Shining Water #3
Bethany House Publishers
Publication date: September 1, 2013

Disclosure of Material Connection: I received this book free from Bethany House 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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