Synopsis: Jessica Ross’ scars run much deeper than the wounds of war. Determined to escape the ghosts of her past and the German influence on her nightmares, she returns home to the sleepy Appalachian town of Hot Springs, NC, only to find the renowned Mountain Park Hotel has been converted into a ‘prison’ for displaced Germans. To Jessica’s dismay, her grandparents have befriended one of the treacherous internees.
August Reinhold has not only found kinship with Jessica’s grandparents, but as they share their granddaughter’s letters from the Front, he discovers a surprising bond drawing him toward the independent and beautiful woman. Displaced by a war and a painful history, he finds Hot Springs and the intriguing Jessica Ross a tempting place to start over. Determined to scale the heights of her bitterness and show her the power of love, August faces more than just Jessica’s resistance but a more devious design to harm the civilian sailors housed in Hot Springs.
Will August’s tender pursuit bring Jessica the healing and hope she needs, or will bitterness force her into the hands of a “true” enemy waiting to destroy much more than her heart?
“Scars held power, their lingering sting bleeding into the present.”
*I received an e-ARC of this book through NetGalley from Xpresso Book Tours in exchange for an honest review*
This book is my first real foray into Christan Fiction. I have always wanted to read a true “Christian” book as I am a Christian myself and am finding that I want to read cleaner material in my books (hence the changing in my review style) but every time I have tried to read a book with the Christian label they always seemed so…forgive me…boring. The plots were dull, the characters unimaginative and the narrative surrounding the religious aspects just seemed so forced. So what on earth made me pick up this book, pretty simple actually, the World War 1 storyline.
Being a history buff and The World Wars being one of my favorite topics of interest, I was drawn to the time period this book takes place in, so I knew even if the book itself wasn’t spectacular I could at least enjoy the setting. But, luckily for me, this book ended up being a really wonderful, well-written and beautifully soul-catching piece of literature. Everything about the time period, dress style and mannerisms of the day seemed well researched by the author and were wonderfully executed. It helped to keep everything in perfect sync as I read along and really got engrossed into the book.
Of course, I am a sucker for epic romances. And with the glut of insta-love and characters falling in love that really shouldn’t in books I’ve read recently, this book was such a breath of fresh air. Since the narrative plays from both perspectives we get to see how each character changes and grows through their feelings for each other and just how beautiful that relationship is. So much these days we forget that friendship and companionship are as important as passion and love. This book deals wonderfully with the idea that August knows he needs to heal Jessica’s wounds by showing her that the person she is matters more to him than the scars she bears. I adored how this book showed through several relationships (like Anna & Cliff’s) that the mending of a heart doesn’t always have to come through overt declarations of love or affection. Sometimes just being a calming and reassuring presence has more effect than anything else.
The religious elements didn’t feel overbearing to me in any way as the author wove them in to the plot line perfectly, showing how August’s gentle care of Jessica’s heart paralleled God’s everlasting love and unchanging faithfulness. I liked how the author would put in the small interludes that I took to be God’s voice whispering to Jessica, that felt very sweet and endearing to me as God is known as the “still small voice” which I feel the author represented well in this book.
There are many other elements of this book I could praise, like the author’s medical knowledge of the period as well as her wonderful crafting of miniature mystery plots, even though I wish more had been done about Mr. Little in the end. The secondary characters were beautifully written too, and I particularly loved Jessica’s brother and sister-in-law.
Another great thing about this book is that although it’s technically a part of a series (Penned in Time #3) I never felt like I was missing any huge pieces of a story or that I was lost when trying to understand the plot. I’m sure there are things I would’ve grasped better had I read the first two books, but this one stands perfectly on it’s own.
Overall I feel very blessed I got the opportunity to read this book and I recommend it to anyone who would love a good read to cozy up with on these upcoming holiday evenings. It will give you all the warm feelings of love while transporting you to another time on a marvelous adventure through the lives of some fabulous characters.