Fields Of The Fatherless by Elaine Marie Cooper

Reviewed By Tammy Doherty –

FIELDS OF THE FATHERLESS is an incredibly well-written novel. Its depth of historical facts is amazing.

Our family celebrates Patriots Day every year, often trekking over to Concord, MA, to watch the parade. The general details of that fateful day, and events leading up to it, are familiar to me. Elaine Cooper has taken these dry facts and brought them to life, writing about those events from the point of view of a real person, Betsy Russell, who really lived in Menotomy in 1775. Her reactions, and those of the other people of Menotomy, during the days leading up to war and during those horrible hours on April 19th open the reader’s eyes to the true horrors of war.

The story unfolds in the weeks prior to April 19th, giving readers insight into the feelings of the Colonists, both their anger and their fears. Betsy and her family do not want to live in tyranny yet Betsy fears the looming threat of war—will she lose her family? When fighting does break out, the terror felt by all (Betsy, her family, the other Colonists) is palpable and real.

Knowing what happened didn’t stop me from wondering what happens. Sounds silly, but that’s how real the story feels. How Betsy copes with the aftermath of battle in her backyard and learns to forgive her enemies is truly amazing while at the same time it flows in a natural way, never forced.

Though the diary entries used for this novel are fictitious, it’s easy to believe that Betsy really felt these things, might have said those words. Reverend Cooke did actually speak the word of the sermons Ms. Cooper includes in this novel. Some of what he said over 200 years ago applies so aptly to current events.

I recommend this novel to anyone who likes historical fiction and those who love American history.

A Lasting Impression by Tamera Alexander

Reviewed by Tammy Doherty –

A LASTING IMPRESSION immerses the reader into the gilded world of the super-rich in late 19th century America. From the start, the characters are captivating. Claire’s inability to go against her father as well her blind obedience to his command and that of Uncle Antoine is hard to grasp in this modern world. Ms. Alexander seems to have realized this—she frequently, yet gently, reminds readers of the difference between our world and that of the South 150 years ago.
This difference is seen as strongly, though more subtly, in Sutton Monroe. His adherence to honor and honesty make him stand out from modern society’s standards. That he is not swayed merely by money shows the strength of his character and personality.

Claire and Sutton find each other physically attractive; however, this is not what draws them together. Both like the good qualities in the other. The romance develops slowly and believably. The obstacles to their relationship are mostly due to the setting—time and place—and somewhat self-imposed. Again, this works well, especially towards the end when the rules of society seem too big an obstacle to overcome.

In addition to being a wonderful romance story, A LASTING IMPRESSION is fine historical novel. Ms. Alexander paints a beautiful picture of Nashville and particularly Belmont Mansion, providing a rich tapestry which sets the stage for the action and conflicts. It’s easy to sink into the atmosphere of post-Civil War Tennessee, with all the difficulties of the Reconstruction Era.

Despite the novel’s length (426 pages), the story does not drag. The pages turn quickly and there’s a sense of being pulled through a time warp to view actual events. The Belmont Mansion really exists in Nashville. Likewise, Adelicia Aklin really lived there and though her characterization is fictional, Ms. Alexander used historical records to bring Adelicia to life. Even more, this story reads as if Claire and Sutton, and all the secondary characters, were real and that the events depicted actually happened.

This novel will truly leave A LASTING IMPRESSION.

WEDNESDAY’S CHILD by Clare Revell

Reviewed By Tammy Doherty –

I had the privilege of reading WEDNESDAY’S CHILD by Clare Revell for pre-publication review. Clare is an author who lives in England but is published in the United States. Her novels are written with that in mind, peppered with loads of British terms and wit, but in a way that Americans can understand and enjoy. Her style and voice are easy to read and keep the reader hooked, page by page. I don’t have an eReader and the computer is shared in the evenings with other family members. As soon as I started WEDNESDAY’S CHILD, though, I greedily horded the computer so I wouldn’t have to stop reading.

The plot for this novel is mostly romance with a light suspense. It opens with an event that scars Liam Page, physically and spiritually. Though horrifying, Ms. Revell does not get graphic with descriptions. Even so, Liam’s pain is palpable and the reader is instantly connected to him. When he meets Jacqui Dorne, neither is looking for love. Ironically, Liam tips over a vase of flowers spilling water all over Jacqui’s laptop. When it turns out she’s the landscape architect just hired by the school where Liam works, both start to suspect they were meant to meet.

Romance blooms in a believable, natural progression. Liam’s damaged faith is a roadblock for Jacqui. Ms. Revell delivers a nice spiritual message without ramming it down her reader’s throat. Why does God allow bad things to happen to good people? We all have difficulty with that one. Jacqui has come to terms with it herself and now helps Liam overcome his painful past. Then the suspense part of the story really kicks in.
From the start, the “bad guy” is known—Vince, Jacqui’s former boyfriend. Just what is he up to and why, though? Jacqui and Liam both plunge into a world of spies and intrigue in an effort to find out. Vince understandably dislikes Liam. How far will he go to get rid of the competition?

This novel is a page-turner. It’s the third in a series based on Ms. Revell’s rewrite of an old children’s nursery rhyme:

Monday’s Child must hide for protection,
Tuesday’s Child tenders direction,
Wednesday’s Child grieves for his soul,
Thursday’s Child chases the whole,
Friday’s Child is a man obsessed,
Saturday’s Child might be possessed,
And Sunday’s Child on life’s seas is tossed,
Awaiting the Lifeboat that rescues the lost.

I look forward to reading the others in this series.

PERILOUS SHADOWS by Nike Chillemi

Reviewed by Tammy Doherty –

Book #3 in the Sanctuary Point series sees the return of Argus Nye. This time, he’s the hero of the story. Don’t worry if you haven’t read the first two novels in this series, though previous plots and characters are referenced, these novels are each individual and enjoyable on their own.

In the opening chapter of PERILOUS SHADOWS, a body is discovered in the supply closet at WSAN radio station where Argus works. Beautiful, vivacious intern, Clarissa Vreeland, is dead of a broken neck. Station manager Jim Heaney puts Argus on the case even as the police investigate. Argus juggles his desire for justice with the need for news for his radio broadcasts.

Kiera Devane is a newspaper reporter swiftly making a name for herself as a woman working in a man’s world. Unfortunately, that name isn’t all good. Though her skills as an investigative reporter are mostly respected, people say she’s cold-hearted. Kiera struggles with demons from the past that cause her to keep people at arms’ length.

Kiera and Argus join forces to solve Clarissa’s murder. Ever the gentleman, Argus finds himself attracted to Kiera. He wants to protect her from not only physical threats that arise during the investigation but also from emotional pain, past and present. Kiera is drawn to Argus through his kindness and friendship. The budding romance is firmly established when Argus learns Kiera’s terrible secret—and isn’t turned off.

PERILOUS SHADOWS is set in post WWII 1940’s. Ms. Chillemi does a nice job of describing fashions of the time and accurately portraying people’s attitudes and morals. The reader is immersed in the era with a movie quality feel. Despite her “ice princess” reputation, Kiera is immediately likeable; it’s easy to identify with both her ambition and drive as well as her fears. Angus is loveable, yet it’s almost difficult to imagine someone so chivalrous, which is a sad reflection of society today. He’s not too perfect to be true, though. His temper nearly gets him in hot water several times and his unwillingness to report scandalous material allows Kiera to get “the scoop” occasionally.

Red herrings abound in this novel. The mystery is masterfully developed and the list of suspects grows with each turn. Who killed Clarissa and why? Was it lecherous Paul Gregorski, Angus’ co-worker? Or Edward Harper, spurned ex-boyfriend? Perhaps Paul’s new wife killed Clarissa in a fit of jealous rage. Then again, it could be someone else yet undiscovered. The trail of clues seems to clearly lead in one direction only to peter-out. The end has a surprising twist.

HARVEST OF RUBIES by Tessa Afshar

July 5, 2012 by  
Filed under Books and Movies, Reviews

Reviewed by Tammy Doherty –

You know it’s a good book when you finish and you don’t want to start reading another book—you want this one to keep going. I read this book in four days. It was really hard to put it down to do the stuff that needs doing—like making dinner, taking care of the family, sleeping.

Tessa Afshar breathes life into history. In her first novel, PEARL IN THE SAND, she brings the story of Rahab and the fall of Jericho alive. In HARVEST OF RUBIES, the main characters are not taken directly from the Bible, though Sarah’s cousin is Nehemiah. Yes, that Nehemiah. Throughout the novel, Sarah and Nehemiah mention people and events that we now know as Bible stories. They both also refer frequently to the Psalms, though in this story they are a “collection” of the writings of King David just recently written for posterity. They talk about the Psalms, King David, and Queen Esther the way we talk about literature, the Alamo, or President Kennedy—as if these things still affect their daily lives.

HARVEST OF RUBIES is the story of Sarah, a young Jewish woman living in ancient Persia. Since her mother died, Sarah has tried desperately to connect with her father. His seeming indifference gives her a feeling of rejection, that she is a bother to him. When she learns to read and write, unusual for a girl, it is their one connection. Yet even this doesn’t seem to be enough. When Sarah becomes the Queen’s senior scribe, the belief that she can never be good enough, that she will always be found lacking, shadows her daily life. The Queen, however, loves Sarah and is always pleased with her work.

Then Sarah is married to Darius, a Persian noble. She is not an aristocrat and makes many mistakes that bring shame to her husband. Darius thinks Sarah connived to marry him for his riches and that she deliberately shamed him. He leaves her behind at his estate, alone but for a few servants. Sarah must learn both the value of friendship and her own worth. But even if she can regain her faith and truly believe in God’s love, that He loves her just for being her, there seems no hope that Darius will ever love Sarah.

Political intrigue and uncovering a plot to harm the Queen got Sarah into this predicament. When a new mystery presents itself, Sarah dives into the investigation. Her sleuthing provides not only suspense but also comic and heartfelt emotional tension. HARVEST OF RUBIES is a tale about God’s love, a romance, and full of suspense. All set in 5th century BC Persia. The only complaint I can make against this novel is that I have to wait for the sequel.