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
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
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
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
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.