two book reviews: ‘a bound heart’ & ‘we hope for better things’

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Though Magnus MacLeish and Lark MacDougall grew up on the same castle grounds, Magnus is now laird of the great house and the Isle of Kerrera. Lark is but the keeper of his bees and the woman he is hoping will provide a tincture that might help his ailing wife conceive and bear him an heir. But when his wife dies suddenly, Magnus and Lark find themselves caught up in a whirlwind of accusations, expelled from their beloved island, and sold as indentured servants across the Atlantic. Yet even when all hope seems dashed against the rocky coastline of the Virginia colony, it may be that in this New World the two of them could make a new beginning—together.

So, I have mixed feelings about A Bound Heart.  On the one hand, it’s a rather well-written story (especially for a Christian historical romance) with some good characters, but on the other it took me a while to slog through it and there were some characters I didn’t appreciate.  To begin with the good, I really liked the main character, Lark.  She was refreshingly unique for the Christian historical romance genre.  She has an actual job (tending beehives and growing herbs) and is quite courageous throughout the whole story.  I feel like this would have been a better book if it focused on her and didn’t try to stick in romance.  Larkin was a dear – one of the few authentic, non-cloyingly-sweet babies I’ve read about.

The main thing I disliked about A Bound Heart was the romance.  Magnus is one of those Christian romance heroes that you can tell was written by a woman.  Which may sound confusing and sexist, but basically he’s fake.  He’s so perfect and ‘manly’ that he’s unlikable because you know that guys like him don’t really exist. (If we’re being honest.)  There were two other potential love interests for Lark that I liked way more because they seemed like real guys you might bump into.

Overall, A Bound Heart was a well-written story with an atmospheric portrayal of Scotland but some annoying Christian romance cliches.

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When Detroit Free Press reporter Elizabeth Balsam meets James Rich, his strange request–that she look up a relative she didn’t know she had in order to deliver an old camera and a box of photos–seems like it isn’t worth her time. But when she loses her job after a botched investigation, she suddenly finds herself with nothing but time.

At her great-aunt’s 150-year-old farmhouse, Elizabeth uncovers a series of mysterious items, locked doors, and hidden graves. As she searches for answers to the riddles around her, the remarkable stories of two women who lived in this very house emerge as testaments to love, resilience, and courage in the face of war, racism, and misunderstanding. And as Elizabeth soon discovers, the past is never as past as we might like to think.

OH MY WORD.  MY HEART.  I CAN’T.

This book drew several tears from me.  On the cover it was compared to To Kill a Mockingbird and while it’s quite a different story and not as good, We Hope for Better Things is one of the most beautiful novels I’ve read in a long time.  The writing is crystal clear, engaging, and evocative.  The story was a bit reminiscent of a Lynn Austin book because of the multi-generational thing, but more serious.

Books that deal with racism always grip me and this one was no exception.  There are many hard things and many heartbreaking things…but many wonderful things as well.  Through the three couples – Mary and George, Nora and William, and Elizabeth and (oh, man, I forget his name and it’s awful of me) ?Tyrese? – you get three incredible stories (though I definitely don’t agree with the choices Mary and George made).  Each of the characters became dear to my heart.

My only complaints about We Hope for Better Things were that sometimes it was hard to keep track of who was related to who and it seemed like the book ended with a rather large unanswered question…but it doesn’t look like there’ll be a sequel.  Still, I adored this book.  Highly recommended to those who enjoy well-written historical fiction.

Have you read either of these novels?  What did you think of them?

Eva

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12 thoughts on “two book reviews: ‘a bound heart’ & ‘we hope for better things’

  1. Ha, I know what you mean about being written by a woman. I’m reading a lot of comic books right now, and you can tell which ones were CLEARLY written by men, for men. Ugh.
    Glad you found a book you could be excited about!

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      1. You find male authors’ portrayal of women annoying? Tbh, there was this one book I read where the male author’s portrayal of teenage girls was infuriating. But there’s this other male author – Jack Cavanaugh – who’s FANTASTIC at writing from a woman’s pov.

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      2. Well, see . . . it’s not ALWAYS that I find male authors’ female characters annoying; just as I have found female authors who write good male characters. (Markus Zusak writes good female POVs for example.)

        But when it’s bad . . . it’s bad, ya know? 😉

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  2. We Hope For Better Things sounds fabulous!!!! *adds it to ever-growing TBR*

    Haha! Yeah! I’m trying reallyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyy hard not to become one of those “women authors who writes Perfect Guys” because it annoys me massively whenever other authors do it. Flaws, people! Flaws, flaws, flaws!

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  3. Pingback: month in books: january 2019 – coffee, classics, & craziness

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