The Bound Heart
By Dawn Crandall
The Everstone Chronicles, #2
Whitaker House, 2014
One accidental kiss from Lawry Hampton. That was all it took to throw Meredyth Summercourt's world upside-down.
Determined to marry the ever-elusive Vance Everstone, she simply doesn't have the time or the desire to fall for her best friend. But with Vance out of the country, and with Lawry at her side nearly every day, teaching her what the world is like through the eyes of a little orphan girl named Wynn--Meredyth can't deny that what's holding her to Vance is nothing more than a desire to redeem herself from her past.
Will she marry Vance once he returns from Europe? Or will she be strong enough to break free from the tangled web she's convinced she deserves, and accept that God's plan for her life includes redemption...and, quite possibly, Lawry Hampton?
The Bound Heart is a historical romance set in 1891 New England - from Boston's Back Bay to Maine's picturesque Bar Harbor. The story is beautifully written, with a descriptive prose that is full of feeling, and rich in historical detail. The characters are complex, but so very real . . . storyline is emotionally gripping . . . romance is "swoon worthy," for lack of a better term . . . and the spiritual theme of forgiveness and redemption will touch every reader. The first book in this series, The Hesitant Heiress (reviewed here), is one of my favorite reads of the year, so I picked up The Bound Heart with high expectations and wasn't disappointed.
I'm not sure how to put it into words, but there's just something special about the writing of Dawn Crandall. Her prose is in an atmospheric, first person point of view that harkens back to another era - evocative of the gothic romance style without the scary parts. Each scene has emotional pull and depth. And I love the way Dawn leads into each chapter with a classical quotation that foreshadows the action, which signifies a wealth of literary knowledge.
Meredyth is a character who pulled at my heart strings from the very beginning. Raised in a prominent and wealthy Boston family, she realizes that financial help alone isn't enough, and gets involved in working with orphans. But spiritually, she exemplifies the prison-like and long-reaching effects caused by sin. Feeling that she had failed God and needed to pay the price, Meredyth felt that her only path to redemption was through marriage to a man she didn't love: "I hated that I felt so bound to Vance, that there seemed to be some invisible, unbreakable thread, stitching us together against our wills."
If I kept a list of favorite male leads, Lawry would be on it. He's compassionate, patient, faithful, steadfast, serves "the least of these," and loves Meredyth with a fierce passion and unconditionally. I prefer characters to be realistically flawed, but Lawry's goodness seemed to fit this story well. My college professor always taught us to look for the "Christ figure" in literature, and I think that description fits Lawry in the way he reflected Jesus to Meredyth and others.
And I have to mention Wynn, the captivating little orphan girl that I hope we see more of in future stories. It just tugged at my heart every time she called Meredyth "Mere'dy."
"Humanity is never so beautiful as when praying for
forgiveness, or else forgiving another."
- Jean Paul Richter
Spiritual themes are strong, but fit very naturally into the flow of the story. The Bound Heart vividly portrays the meaning behind concepts like sin, guilt, atonement, redemption and grace - and it's so refreshing to find this in Christian fiction today. As I followed Meredyth into both the literal and spiritual cave of darkness toward the end, the words of this beloved worship song came to my mind: "My chains are gone, I've been set free!"
Highly recommend, 5-star rating based on my enjoyment level.
Visit dawncrandall.blogspot.com to enter the drawing for ebook copies of either The Hesitant Heiress or The Bound Heart. Contest ends on November 24. Book 3, The Captive Imposter, releases February 2015.
A graduate of Taylor University with a degree in Christian Education, and aformer bookseller at Barnes & Noble, Dawn Crandall didn’t begin writing until2010 when her husband found out about her long-buried dream of writing a book. Without a doubt about someday becoming traditionally published, he encouraged her to quit working in order to focus on writing The Hesitant Heiress. It didn’t take her long to realize that writing books was what she was made to do. Dawn is represented by Joyce Hart of Hartline Literary.
Apart from writing books, Dawn is also a first-time mom to a precious little boy (born March 2014) and also serves with her husband in a pre-marriage mentor program at their local church in Fort Wayne, Indiana. Dawn is a member of the American Christian Fiction Writers, secretary for the Indiana ACFW Chapter (Hoosier Ink), and associate member of the Great Lakes ACFW Chapter.
The Everstone Chronicles is Dawn’s first series with Whitaker House. All three books composing the series were semifinalists in ACFW’s prestigious Genesis Writing Contest, the third book going on to become a finalist in 2013.
Thank you to Dawn Crandall for providing an ARC of this book in exchange for my honest review.