Summer of Books: Week 2(ish)
I've been on vacation visiting family in Indiana the past two weeks, so I know I haven't been the best at keeping up with the updates. I also am posting this week's special review two days late. But! Better late than never! Things should get more regular now that I'm home.
Recently finished: A chapter or two in Paradox, Crimson Bound, The Professor... I'm not so great at the focusing or finishing bits lately.
Currently reading: All of the above
Next up: I think I'd better finish something first before I decide
Abandoned without finishing: 1
Abandoned without finishing: 1
Books bought this week: 8
Newly purchased books read this week: 0.1
Library books read this week: 0.25
Library books returned this week: 0
FULL Review! Released today: The Sound of Diamonds by Rachelle Rea!
Her only chance of getting home is trusting the man she hates.
With the protestant Elizabeth on the throne of England and her family in shambles, Catholic maiden Gwyneth seeks refuge in the Low Countries of Holland, hoping to soothe her aching soul. But when the Iconoclastic Fury descends and bloodshed overtakes her haven, she has no choice but to trust the rogue who arrives, promising to see her safely home to her uncle's castle. She doesn't dare to trust him...and yet doesn't dare to refuse her one chance to preserve her own life and those of the nuns she rescues from the burning convent.
Dirk Godfrey is determined to restore his honor at whatever cost. Running from a tortured past, Dirk knows he has only one chance at redemption, and it lies with the lovely Gwyneth, who hates him for the crimes she thinks he committed. He must see her to safety, prove to the world that he is innocent, prove that her poor eyesight is not the only thing that has blinded her but what is he to do when those goals clash?
The home Gwyneth knew is not what she once thought. When a dark secret and a twisted plot for power collide in a castle masquerading as a haven, the saint and the sinner must either dare to hold to hope...or be overcome.
THUMBS UP: First of all, this is my editor's book, so of course I'm rooting for it from page one. Gwyneth is an awesome heroine, and not at all expected. For once in my life, I actually didn't read the back cover copy, so that might be part of it, but I was incredibly happily surprised to realize she wears glasses! And not just wears-them-it's-cute-make-librarian-jokes but full-on blind-without-them kind of deal. Plus it's a totally vital point to the trust-building and romance themes and to Gwyneth's personality and character. Actually, some of my favorite parts were the squishy romantical bits that wouldn't have happened if certain glasses-related incidents hadn't occurred. It's refreshing and new and something you'd think you'd find more often in books, but you don't. Trust me, as a lifelong glasses wearer, I'd remember any heroine in glasses.
The romance is fantastic and very warm and fuzzy. If you aren't a romance reader, this book is not for you. If you used to be a romance reader and got tired of cliched or cookie-cutter love, though, like me, this book is sooooo definitely for you. It's exactly what the genre needs to be fun and worthwhile again.
The religious aspect surprised me, too. I knew this was a Christian book, but I didn't realize Gwyneth was Catholic (rare among books by/for not-specifically-Catholic Christians) or that it was set during the Iconoclastic Fury. The Catholic/Protestant issue, so central to Christian conflict both then and now, was beautifully handled. As a Christian who falls under the Protestant umbrella myself, but with a Catholic best friend, I'm not usually very happy with how people of similar denominations to mine handle their disagreements with Catholic beliefs. This book defied the norm without compromising truth, and I loved it. The focus was on what's important and on bringing people together rather than debating the specifics or insisting one group is right.
EH: While I loved the romance, I only liked Dirk. He seems like a great guy, but he just doesn't feel as fleshed-out a character as Gwyneth. His thought processes sometimes felt abrupt, and a few times I didn't understand why we were in his POV for that scene. Not an annoyance, really, just a part of the book that felt a bit weaker than the rest.
THUMBS DOWN: First, know this: I am not, generally, a historical reader. I have read a not-awful number of historical Christian romances in the past, but most of them were long before I starting reviewing or seriously writing my own books. I generally prefer snarky, snappy contemporary or speculative YA works featuring writing that is not necessarily bare bones, but goes down quickly. That said, I may not be the best judge, but the writing in this book felt very flowery and a little over-the-top to me. This was more noticeable in Gwyneth's POV than Dirk's, probably due to her being a fine lady and his being a rough rakish rebel, but sometimes I found myself quite literally rolling my eyes. It bothered me for about a third of the book before I finally got used to it. It's worth noting that I've always felt Rachelle's natural writing voice -- on her blog or even just in personal emails -- was more elegant and embellished than mine or what I generally read, so I probably should've expected this. Again, though, so not a historical reader here.
THE VERDICT: I definitely want to read the rest of the series. A lot of Christian romance series jump between various characters in the same setting/social circle, but this trilogy focuses entirely on Dirk and Gwyneth, so I'm super excited to see them again! Four stars.
I received a free copy of this ebook from the author in exchange for this review. All opinions expressed are entirely my own.
It's been much slower going since I finished chapter one, probably because I'd already done a lot of editing and polishing with the first chapter back when I first started promoting this book at a conference. I finally finished chapter two, so I'm now 25% complete. Not where I wanted to be by now, but progress is being made.
At the very end of the tunnel is a door unlike any I've seen yet. It's bigger than those in the tunnels and more elaborately carved, but smaller than the ones from that cloaked man's room. They're beautiful carvings, of people and trees and villages and all sorts of things. The carvings are like little scenes, scattered across the door. Centered at the top of the door is a rectangle carved to stick out a little, with 'Lady Beila' carved in scrolling type.
Adele places my hand on the curled metal handle. This door is the only one I've seen with any outside handle at all, though of course I never saw the outside of the cloaked man's doors. With one pull the door eases open silently and I slowly enter what is apparently my room down here. The door eases shut behind me, and I assume either there's magic involved in all this or Adele came in behind me.
The room is made of the same smooth, hard-packed dirt as everything else. The furniture, though, is beautiful - antique, carved, white wooden bed, wardrobe, vanity table, and chair. A white marble fireplace takes up a large middle portion of one wall and lights the whole room. There's even a mirror, a beautiful bronze-framed mirror hanging above the vanity.