Tuesday, May 20, 2014

Review: While Love Stirs

While Love Stirs
By Lorna Seilstad
The Gregory Sisters, #2
Revell, 2014


After graduating from Fannie Farmer's School of Cookery in 1910, Charlotte Gregory is ready to stir things up. She is thrilled to have the opportunity to travel, lecture, and give cooking demonstrations on the very latest kitchen revolution--the gas stove--and certainly doesn't mind that the gas company has hired the handsome Lewis Mathis to perform at her lectures.

Lewis encourages her work, especially her crusade to introduce fresh, appetizing, nutritious food to those convalescing in hospitals. But young hospital superintendent Dr. Joel Brooks is not convinced any changes should be made--especially by this outspoken young woman.

When Charlotte and Joel are coerced into planning a fund-raising gala for the hospital, will this combustible pair explode?

Jewel gas range, circa 1910

My thoughts

While Love Stirs, book #2 in the Gregory Sisters series, has romance, humor, historical detail, loveable characters, great storyline, and even a little mystery. It only took the reading of this one book by Lorna Seilstad to make her one of my favorite authors. Those who have read the first book in this series, When Love Calls, will enjoy being reunited with familiar characters, but this book easily stands alone.

Lorna does a great job incorporating interesting facets, events, and locales of the 1910 era in Saint Paul, Minnesota - the arrival of the first gas range, the pioneering work of Fannie Farmer in bringing attention to the nutritional needs of hospital patients, the recognition of baking as a science, the difficulty for women who desired to succeed in the world of business. Although I was born about 40 years after this story takes place, I found many things reminiscent of my growing up years - such as the cooking demonstrations with gas stoves, crisply starched uniforms and caps worn by nurses, etc.


"Go home, little cook. Find a husband who will enjoy your souffl├ęs,
and make delicious cakes and cookies for your babies.
You don't belong in a real kitchen. No woman does."
- Chef Reisen from Carling's Restaurant

Lead characters Charlotte Gregory and Dr. Joel Brooks appealed to me from the very beginning. Charlotte expresses herself through cooking and dreams of owning her own restaurant. Having graduated from Fannie Farmer's School of Cookery, she was eager to use her knowledge and passion to improve both the nutritional content and appearance of food served in hospitals. I loved the tip that cold foods are often the best way to entice a sick person with little appetite - foods like ice cream, cold puddings and custards.

Both Charlotte and Joel have past experiences that affect their present life and relationships. Charlotte avoids relationships with a man who is controlling, and control is exactly what Joel likes. He has always tried to prove himself and he desires that everything around him be in order. Sparks fly as their attraction is felt from their initial encounter, and I enjoyed watching their relationship grow in mutual trust and respect. The prose flows, secondary characters add richness, and Lorna certainly knows how to write captivating romance.

The youngest Gregory sister, Tessa - aspiring actress, Shakespeare quoting, a different dream every other week - is enchanting and I loved how her storyline is woven throughout this story in a way that sets up her story for a future novel. It was so ingenious the way she used her acting skills to emulate the prim Miss Walker.

In fact, humor is never far below the surface, and it is so enjoyable to read a story that makes me smile. In addition to humor, I believe Lorna is a little mischievous because she obviously had fun with the mysterious person with the initials "K.O." You'll have to read While Love Stirs to understand that comment, but I'm about ready to crown Lorna as the queen of red herrings!

One spiritual theme that stood out to me, maybe because it's something I seemingly have to constantly relearn, is that of trusting and giving control over to God. When the merchants of Red Wing refused to sell to Charlotte, her traveling companion Molly offers this wise advice:  "How little we have doesn't matter. He can take what little we have and use it in a big way, but we have to bring him our empty vessels so he can fill them."

It was a pleasure to discover Lorna's writing and I will definitely be reading her other novels. I highly recommend While Love Stirs to all readers.

While Love Stirs can be purchased at Amazon, christianbook.com, DeeperShopping, and Barnes & Noble.

Lorna Seilstad

Award-winning author Lorna Seilstad has called Iowa home her whole life. She received her B.S. in Education from Lubbock Christian University. After her first child was born, she quit teaching and became a professional wiper. “I wiped noses, tears, skinned knees, baby's bottoms, and counter tops every day. But at nap time, I wrote." Today, she writes historical fiction with a generous dash of humor. She is the author of the Lake Manawa Summers Series, a wife, and a mother of three.

Meet Lorna online at www.lornaseilstad.com, Facebook, Twitter, Goodreads, and Pinterest.

Thank you to Revell for providing a copy of this book in exchange for my honest review.

Joel & Charlotte's picnic at Minnehaha Falls

1 comment: