Interview with Rita Gerlach, Bestselling Author, in Regard to Her Latest Novel, “Mercy’s Refuge”

Mercy's Refuge by [Rita Gerlach]

I recently had the opportunity to interview Bestselling author, Rita Gerlach to discuss her latest book, “Mercy’s Refuge”. It is a historical fiction novel about the Pilgrims and the trials they faced as they struggled to find a place where they could freely worship the Lord. Much of it is based on William Bradford’s own writing, “Of Plymouth Plantation”.

Q: The book blurb on the back of Mercy’s Refuge mentions that Mercy’s Refuge was inspired by ’Of Plymouth Plantation’ by William Bradford. Can you explain this in a little more detail?

A: William Bradford was one of Plymouth’s founders and later a governor. In 1643, he wrote ‘Of Plymouth Plantation’ to document the events the Separatists endured when leaving England, living in Holland, and then their perilous voyage. I had already begun Mercy’s Refuge with my heroine, Mercy, living in Ipswich, England, so while researching the era I discovered Bradford’s amazing work. I was so inspired by the courage of the men and women who endured so much persecution, and risked all they had to live out their faith. Incidents in the book were new to me, and so I decided this was the direction Mercy’s Refuge was to take.

Q: Do you read books like William Bradford’s ’Of Plymouth Plantation’ regularly for pleasure or did you read Bradford’s book strictly as research for an idea you already had for Mercy’s Refuge?

A: I read ‘Of Plymouth Plantation’ for research, both in the ‘King’s English’ and in a modern English translation. I’m what they call a ‘pantser’. I write pretty much by the seat of my pants. In other words, I do not outline a book chapter by chapter before I write it. I research the era before and during the writing of the manuscript.

Q: Mercy’s story is filled with tragedy and loss. Why did you find it necessary for her to experience so much of these things?

A: Such an interesting question. It was necessary in order to flesh out the characters. Life in 1620 was not a bed of roses. It was hard. There was great poverty and religious persecution. One reader’s opinion of the novel, and how it affected her, touched me deeply. Her comment was what I hoped readers would come away with.

She told me she had been feeling depressed about her job, bills she had to pay, the shutdowns. But when she read Mercy’s Refuge she realized how blessed her life is, that those courageous people and Mercy’s bravery caused her to realize how thankful she should be for the life God has blessed her with.

Readers will also find moments of joy and humor in Mercy’s Refuge.

Q: Who is your favorite character in Mercy’s Refuge and why?

A: Absolutely it is Mercy McCrea. She’s my favorite mostly because she is my heroine…and a true heroine she is. She is brave and forthright. She is as her name is…merciful and kind. She trusts God to lead her and to watch over her loved ones. She is not without flaws, though. I don’t want your readers to think Mercy is the perfect woman. She makes some bad choices that lead to disaster. She is a little prideful when it comes to making a decision, when she should have listened to wiser counsel.

Q: Who was the most difficult character to write?

A: I’d say the most difficult character to write about was Dorothy Bradford. There are so many opinions by historians about her personality. Some believe she was depressed and committed suicide by throwing herself overboard in Plymouth Harbor. Others say it was a tragic accident, and that Dorothy was as courageous as the other women aboard the Mayflower were. She left Holland with her husband leaving her young son behind in the hands of her parents so he would not suffer the journey. I tried to put myself in her shoes. How hard it must have been for her to kiss little John Bradford farewell, and her mother and father, and sail to an unknown land. I believe her death was an accident. Writing about her, I wanted to present her to readers as a woman of virtue, a woman who had a heart of gold but also a heart grieved and afraid of what laid ahead. She and Mercy are very close in the story. I have to include here, that Mercy’s Refuge is not a sugar-and-spice and everything nice story. It is a gritty novel of love and redemption, bravery and faith.

Q: Why do you choose to write historical fiction?

A: Ever since I was knee-high to a grasshopper, I’ve loved stories and books. I’m fascinated by the lives lived in the past. You know the ones we don’t hear much about anymore. My mother was a great storyteller. She told me stories about her childhood during the Great Depression and WWII. I believe her stories put me onto the path of writing historical fiction.

Q: Why do you believe that learning and knowing accurate history is so important?

A: If you think of the opposite, where history is told inaccurately it’s like looking at history and historical figures through a pair of dark sunglasses. You only see what a revisionists wants you to see to fit a particular agenda.

We can learn from the truth. The Pilgrims’ story has been skewed in many circles of education. I had one person tell me they learned in school the only reason the Pilgrims came to Plymouth was to kill the Indians and take their land. I recommended William Bradford’s ‘Of Plymouth Plantation’ to read it straight from a man who sailed to those shores and lived peacefully with the Wampanoag Tribe. Not only did the ship’s passengers and crew sign the Mayflower Compact, but they made a compact with the chief of the Wampanoags, that they would each protect the other from their enemies. We are living in a time of ‘cancel culture’, so we best hold fast to what we have left.

Q: How long did it take you to complete Mercy’s Refuge? How much time do you typically take to complete a novel?

A: It took two years total. I initially began writing it in 2014. But I had to put it aside to write five novellas for Barbour Publishing, and the novel After the Rain. Once I fulfilled my commitments to my publisher, I pulled out the manuscript and dove back in. I don’t have it written down but that was around 2018.

Q: What do you hope readers will take away from Mercy’s Refuge?

I have an article on my website readers may be interested in reading. It’s called ‘Why I Write Inspirational Fiction’. Here’s a portion that answers your question.

Christian fiction should be a balm of healing against the kind of secular fiction that seeks to glorify the flesh and bring hopelessness to a hopeless world. Writing inspirational fiction is a calling to draw readers back to the Creator, opposed to away from Him, through stories that show the struggles people face, their journeys through heartbreaks and heartaches, to understanding and healing. It is to remind them of His love and forgiveness, how He works in others to bring us to that place, and that it is not by our own strength alone we overcome adversity.’

https://ritagerlach.wordpress.com/why-i-write-inspirational-fiction/

Q: Where is Mercy’s Refuge available? Is Mercy’s Refuge available in ebook format?

A: Thanks for asking. Mercy’s Refuge is on Amazon in ebook and paperback. I’m waiting on Christianbooks to place it. For now, Amazon is the best place to purchase a copy, and you get it fast.

http://www.amazon.com/gp/product/B08J8HF7W4/ref=dbs_a_def_rwt_bibl_vppi_i0

On a side note, the manuscript was requested by a Dutch publisher in the Netherlands to be translated into Dutch.

I am currently writing a novel set in 1917, during WWI. I hope to have it finished this fall for publication.

_________________________________________________________________________________

Thank you, Kelly, for having me.

You’re very welcome, Rita. Thank you so much for taking the time to answer my questions.

I’d like to add my website and author’s Facebook page.

Please do.

Rita’s web: http://ritagerlach.wordpress.com/

Author’s Page: https://www.facebook.com/groups/249323152879604/

If you’d like to hear more from Rita, please watch her video interview with Jo Massaro:

I highly encourage anyone who loves history or who wants to read a story that includes true history to read Mercy’s Refuge. I have read it, and if you would like to read my review of Mercy’s Refuge, click the following link: https://kellyfbarr.com/2021/02/08/mercys-refuge-by-rita-gerlach/

Flash Fiction Friday: The Love Letters

wwii thompson smg | Militaria (US)

The Love Letters

by Kelly F. Barr

Callie sat in an old wooden rocking chair in her grandmother’s attic. Gran had passed away six months ago and left her house, and everything in it, to Callie, who had just graduated from college three months ago. She had a lot of great memories in this house, though she’d never been in the attic before. On the floor in front of her was an old trunk – black with a metal lock. She gripped the lid and tried to lift it, but it didn’t budge.

It must be locked. Where could the key be? Callie scanned the room. A few feet away stood a little table with a drawer. Callie stood and stepped over to the table. She pulled the drawer out. Inside was an old Bible with a black leather cover. Callie picked it up and opened it to the first page – a page showing ownership of the Bible to Grace Randall Witherspoon, her grandmother. She flipped some pages and, in the Book of Psalms, found an old black and white photograph of a handsome man in an army uniform. Callie picked up the photo for a closer look. The man in the photo didn’t look anything like Grandpa Jasper Witherspoon. Callie turned the photo over and, on the back, in block letters, was the name Galen Edward Haskins and the year 1939. She’d never heard that name before. She lowered her hand to place the photo back into the Bible and saw a key.

Callie picked up the key and studied it. It looked large enough to fit the trunk’s lock. She put the photo back in the Bible, returned the Bible to the drawer, and took the key to the trunk. She placed the key into the lock and turned. She heard a click, and leaving the key in the lock, attempted to lift the lid. This time, there was no resistance. She tipped the lid until it stood open, and a puff of dust cascaded down the lid, causing Callie to sneeze. Inside, the first thing Callie saw was a beautiful peach colored gown. She lifted it from the trunk and held it up. Tiny flowers were embroidered all over the bodice. The skirt was silk with a layer of peach colored lace over it. The top of the bodice had short puffy sleeves. Callie imagined the sleeves were to be worn off the shoulders, leaving the woman’s shoulders and neck fully exposed. Had Gran worn this for a special occasion?

Callie laid the dress aside and began to sort through the rest of the items in the trunk. There was a jewelry box with some beautiful pieces of jewelry, including a pearl necklace and a cameo pin. There was a pair of silk white gloves that Callie imagined had once been worn with the gown. Next, she lifted out three books with locks and keys – diaries. She unlocked and opened the first one and immediately recognized her grandmother’s script. She closed it and put the books aside to read later. The last thing Callie lifted from the trunk was a wooden box. When she opened it, she found several yellowed envelopes. They were addressed to Grace Randall, her grandmother’s maiden name.

Callie gently withdrew a piece of paper from the first envelope and unfolded it. It appeared to be a letter written in the same block print she had seen on the back of the photo of Galen Edward Haskins. She read:

MY DEAREST GRACE,

I’VE ALWAYS KNOWN WAR IS UGLY, BUT THIS WAR IS HIDEOUS. I HAVE SEEN THINGS THAT WILL HAUNT ME FOR THE REST OF MY LIFE. I CANNOT GIVE YOU ANY DETAILS NOR WOULD I WANT TO. PLEASE PRAY THAT I WILL BE ABLE TO DO MY DUTY, BUT ABOVE ALL PRAY THAT THIS WAR WILL END SOON AND THAT WE WILL BE SENT HOME.

THE ONLY THING THAT GIVES ME ANY JOY AND HOPE IS KNOWING THAT YOU ARE WAITING FOR ME AT HOME. I MISS YOU TERRIBLY. I LOVE YOU WITH ALL MY HEART.

YOURS TRULY,

GALEN

Callie blinked and looked at the signature again. It still read GALEN. How could that be? Gran had married Jasper Witherspoon, not Galen Haskins. Gran had never spoken of Galen.

Callie replaced the items back in the trunk, except for the diaries and the box of letters. She took those down to the main floor of the house and placed them on her bedside table to read later. Her curiosity was piqued. What had gone on between Gran and Galen Haskins? Had Grandpa known about Galen?

Callie spent the next evening reading the rest of the letters from Galen. Her heart was heavy for him as each letter expressed his longing for the end of the war and his return to Gran. The last letter expressed how Galen didn’t know how much more of this war he could handle, but he praised God that his unit had been able to make a rescue. He hoped they would make more rescues. This letter ended like all the rest: I MISS YOU TERRIBLY. I LOVE YOU WITH ALL MY HEART. YOURS TRULY, GALEN.

That letter was dated October 15, 1942. Why was that the last letter? What had happened to Galen or was it, what had happened to his relationship with Gran?

The next night Callie began searching through Gran’s diaries for mention of Galen. Only the first two entries mentioned him. One was dated January 20, 1944. Received word today that Galen and his unit were captured and taken to a POW camp in Germany not long after the rescue they made On October 15th. Gran wrote: I fear I may never hear from Galen again. Why do men have to go to war?

The next diary entry was dated May 8, 1945, and Gran had written: Germany surrendered today. Lists of the names of POWs released to the U.S. were published in newspapers. Galen’s name is not on any of the lists. Now I must learn how to go on without him.

Soothsayer by Kathryn Amurra

Soothsayer is Kathryn Amurra’s debut novel. It was published in the beginning of May 2020.

About the Book

Soothsayer is set in ancient Rome. Aurelia has always valued love and happiness over titles and power. Her kind father indulged her desire to marry for love, allowing her to turn away suitor after suitor in her pursuit of love. However, when her father dies, she is placed in a predicament that doesn’t allow her the freedom to choose. If she is to protect her mentally challenged brother, she must marry the elderly governor of a nearby province.

Cassius, a Roman centurion, and captain of the governor’s guard, is to escort Aurelia and her unpleasant aunt to the governor’s estate. However, one mishap after another seems to threaten this journey, and soon Cassius finds himself escorting Aurelia alone. Cassius’s only desire is to carry out his duty and keep his heart unaffected by such things as love.

My Review

Soothsayer grabbed my attention from the very beginning and didn’t let go until the very last page. I felt disappointment with every loss and challenge that Aurelia had to face. I understood her distaste for a man a great many years older than she and hoped for another way for her to keep her beloved brother safe. I admired her courage and determination to do what she believed she must do, sacrificing her own dreams.

Cassius, a man of few words, but also a man of honor. A man who could be trusted. Also, a man who had a troubled heart and believed he wouldn’t remain in this world very long. I hoped he would be able to experience what every human needs, but that he felt a need to deny himself.

As I read about the journey of Aurelia and Cassius as their paths crossed and they helped one another, I grew to love these characters and wanted to see them happy by the end of the book.

Kathryn Amurra’s writing is strong. She paints pictures in the reader’s minds, grips their hearts with emotions, and keeps them hoping for the best. This book was so well written and I found no errors, and therefore had nothing to distract me from the story. I related to the internal struggles of the characters, as well as some of their external struggles. I loved the ancient Roman setting, as historical fiction is one of my favorite genres.

This was definitely an exceptional debut novel, and I will be looking for more books from Kathryn Amurra in the future.

I give this book 5 stars.

I received a free copy of this book for my honest review.

Before We Were Yours by Lisa Wingate

Before We Were Yours: A Novel by [Lisa Wingate]

Before We Were Yours by Lisa Wingate is a story that tells two stories, one from the past, and one from the present and connects the two. It is a historical fiction story.

The historical story line is set in 1939 United States. It tells the fictional story of a family that lives in a shantyboat on the Mississippi River. It’s a sad and tragic tale that, sadly, many people experienced in reality–their children wrenched from their homes and families and thrown into a Tennessee Children’s Home Society orphanage, where they must face many cruelties. I was completely unaware of this orphanage and the cruel woman, Georgia Tann, who was behind it all. It is a heart-wrenching story, and I was appalled at how cruel Georgia Tann could be and how long she got away with destroying the lives of so many innocent children.

The modern day story line was set in Aiken, South Carolina and centered around a well-to-do family involved in politics. The main character in this story line was Avery Stafford, who was set to be married until she meets an elderly lady in a care facility who awakens uncomfortable questions in Avery’s mind and sets her on a journey to uncover her family’s long-hidden past.

The story of the Foss children living in the shantyboat captured my attention right from the start and the children captured my heart. Never having lived near water, learning about their life on the river and the river community was interesting and enjoyable. Ms. Wingate painted pictures in my mind of the Foss family, their neighbors, and their life. The story line of Rill, her parents, and siblings held me captive throughout the book as my heart ached for a happy ending for them.

Avery’s story, on the other hand, took me a while to get caught up in. At first I considered skipping the chapters about Avery to remain immersed in the story of Rill and her siblings, but I didn’t want to miss out on any of the connections between the two stories, so I continued to read about Avery as well. After about the third chapter about Avery, I finally began to be more interested in Avery’s life as well, and so continued to read, both to find out what would happen to Rill and her siblings, as well as how they were connected to Avery’s family.

Before We Were Yours was a slower read for me because it was very different than what I normally read, but it was written in a way that, even though it was slower, I didn’t want to abandon it. I was both appalled and fascinated by the true history of the story and so thankful that orphanages like the Tennessee Children’s Home Society are no longer allowed to function in the United States today. As someone who loves history and loves to learn, I found this book definitely worth reading.

If you are interested in history and enjoy learning about different time periods and the lives of people in those times, I recommend Before We Were Yours by Lisa Wingate, and if you are like me, it will make you laugh and cry, and Rill and her siblings will find a permanent place in your heart.

 

The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society Book Review

I’ve been wanting to read The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society by Mary Ann Shaffer and Annie Barrows since I saw a lot of people raving about it on Facebook last year. I finally picked up a copy at a used book sale.

I was surprised to find that it was written as letters between characters, and that made it a bit difficult in the beginning because I had to keep flipping back pages to see who was writing to whom. However, it didn’t take long to acclimate myself and get so involved in the characters’ lives that I no longer found this a problem.

I enjoyed that the main character was a writer whose first book had been a bestseller and she wasn’t sure what to write next — what could be as well received. Then in January 1946, she, Juliet Ashton, receives a letter from a stranger, who happens to be the founding member of the Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society. Here begins a journey through letters that eventually leads Juliet to visit the members of the Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society because, through the letters, she feels as though these people have become friends.

It was fascinating how the authors developed the characters and their relationships to one another, mostly through letters. The time of the novel follows World War II and includes historical facts and information.

I fell in love with the characters and got caught up in their lives and felt their feelings. It made me want to meet the members of The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society and attend at least one of their meetings.

My only negative comment in regard to The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society is that the authors chose to reveal that one of the characters is a homosexual in a conversation with someone the homosexual character barely knows, and, at that period in history, I find it highly unlikely that someone would openly discuss sexuality, especially homosexuality. I also found it unnecessary to the story. As a matter of fact, it was barely mentioned twice and really served no purpose.

All in all, I enjoyed the story. It kept me turning pages and I was sad when it came to an end. It was like saying goodbye to some good friends. It was unlike anything I’ve ever read before, and I do recommend it. I have not seen the movie, but now that I’ve read the book, I do want to see it. (I always prefer to read the book first.)

I was sad to find that the story was created by Mary Ann Shaffer and that she became quite ill before the book was completed. Therefore, her niece, Annie Barrows, finished the novel and its publication. Mary Ann Shaffer passed away before the book was published.

Book Review: Caledonia by Sherry V. Ostroff

Caledonia by [Ostroff, Sherry V.]

Caledonia is Sherry V. Ostroff’s historical fiction debut novel. It’s a novel that simultaneously tells the story of Anna, a character living in Scotland and traveling during 1696, and Hanna, a character living in the United States in 2005. The two characters have a connection to one another. The similarities of their names was an unwise choice, in my opinion.

While Anna’s story is full of hardships and struggles, Hanna’s story is full of adventure and research to find out how she and Anna are connected. Both story lines include a love story.

I found that I was much more drawn to Anna’s story as well as to Anna and Alain who were the main characters of her story. I felt that Ms. Ostroff did a much better job of developing the characters in this story, and it was obvious that Ms. Ostroff did her research to tell the tale of Anna, Alain, and Caledonia. Ms. Ostroff did an excellent job of writing an interesting plot in this story line–a plot that kept me turning pages and wanting to know what was going to happen next.

I found the story of Hanna and Alec to be less developed and less interesting as it almost entirely revolved around Hanna searching for the connection between her and Anna. She spent a lot of time reading a journal and researching things she found in the journal, as well as the history of a candlestick. Therefore this story line did not hold my interest as much, and I wasn’t as invested in the lives of Hanna and Alec. I was, however, invested in the character of Hanna’s grandmother, whom I believe Ms. Ostroff did a good job of developing. As a matter of fact, one of the chapters about Hanna’s life ended with a cliffhanger in regard to her grandmother, and though the next chapter was about Anna, I bypassed it long enough to read the first scene of the next chapter that was about Hanna to find out about her grandmother, then I flipped back to read the chapter on Anna.

Overall I felt that the story was unbalanced because there was so much focus on Anna’s story and much less on Hanna’s story. I learned so much about Anna and her personality and life that she was very real to me. I loved and cared about her. I felt much less interest in Hanna and very little connection to her. I never came to love or care for her as I did for Anna throughout this story.

I was a little disappointed at the end of the story. I felt that certain things were unfinished. Then I read that there will be a sequel to Caledonia. The first chapter of On the Edge of a Precipice is included at the end of Caledonia, and I couldn’t help but wonder how Ms. Ostroff will write an effective sequel, as it seems to me that there’s not much left for her to tell of Anna’s story because she did such a thorough job of covering the historical story line in Caledonia. However, I will be looking for the sequel to see what else I can learn about Anna and further Scottish history.

For those of you who choose to read clean fiction, I will say that there are some mildly explicit sexual scenes in this book. There are also a few places where profanity is used.

The Writing Desk by Rachel Hauck

In the past couple years, I’ve heard about a new style of historical fiction stories. The authors weave an historical fiction story and a contemporary fiction story and put them in the same book, and there’s something that connects the historical with the contemporary. The Writing Desk by Rachel Hauck is one of those stories and it is the first story like it that I have read.

The historical story follows the life of a young woman named, Birdie, who is from a prominent American family during the Gilded Age. She is a free-thinking independent woman, but her parents try to force her to marry a man she doesn’t love, so that the two will be even more wealthy, and put Birdie at the height of society. Her mother is much more adamant about it than her father. However, Birdie wants to marry for love, and she wants to write stories.

The contemporary story follows the life of a young woman who wrote a book in the midst of her grief over the death of her father, and it quickly becomes a New York Times Bestseller. Therefore, Tenley is pressured to write another one, but she is paralyzed by writer’s block and struggles with her emotions and who she really is. Then her mother, who deserted her twenty years ago, calls and announces she has cancer and needs Tenley to come to Florida to take care of her. However, the man Tenley has been involved with gives her an engagement ring and asks her to marry him, and he invites her to go to Paris to write.

The lives of both women are so different, yet they are connected by several threads.

I found this book impossible to put down. Last night I stayed up an hour and a half later than I usually do because I just had to finish it. I always say that a book that can make me laugh and cry is on my list of “best books”, and this one struck both of those chords within me, and there was one tremendous surprise twist in the story that I never suspected that made me laugh and cry tears of joy!

Because I, too, am a writer, I could relate to both the women in this story, and I continually cheered them on throughout the book.  The other characters also evoked strong thoughts and/or emotions within me and I either, cheered for them or wished for them to go away.

Not only was this an incredible pair of stories woven together, it was also an incredible story of loss, hurt, guilt, pain, hope, healing, and love. Birdie, Eli, Tenley, Jonas, and even Alfonse, Rose, Blanche, and Holt will live on in my memory and heart for a long time to come. This book has endeared itself to me. It is the kind of book I LOVE to talk about with friends who have also read it, and it is a book I will highly recommend to anyone who loves a wonderfully, skillfully told story that includes all of the things I’ve listed above.

The Writing Desk by Rachel Hauck gets five stars from me.

I also have to say it is the first and only book that I have ever read by Rachel Hauck, but I will definitely be looking for more.

He Knows The Way by Idella Borntrager Otto

He Knows The Way by Idella Borntrager Otto is Ms. Otto’s debut novel.

Back Cover Blurb:

Ellen, a young northern Mennonite nurse is transplanted into the chaos of Mississippi’s church bombings and cross burning. When danger from the Ku Klux Klan lurks, the scripture text “He knows the way that I take and when He has tested me I will come forth as gold” nibbles at her mind like a broken record. She searches for a sense of direction.

Lord, did I misread your leading to serve you in Mississippi? I don’t need to be gold. Silver or pewter would be just fine. In the midst of racial violence, Ellen re-examines her peace-loving faith while trying to unscramble her feelings which vacillate between a handsome Yankee and her southern pastor’s engaging son.

My Review:

He Knows The Way grabbed my attention from the start with a scene of heart-pounding danger — Ellen arriving to do a job as men with guns block her path. She is alone. She is in Mississippi during racial tensions in the 1960s.

More danger crops up as the Ku Klux Klan burns a cross on the lawn of somewhere Ellen has been ministering to someone preventing Ellen from continuing in this ministry with a woman she has become very fond of.

Ellen, a young northern Mennonite nurse, struggles with the attitudes of people in the south who look down on those who are different and don’t want to treat them as human beings. In one situation, Ellen shows great courage and breaks a southern segregation rule, then fears she will lose her job for doing so.

She is encouraged to go to a school in Virginia to get her B.S.N. and apply for a nursing director position. She goes off to school where she meets a young man, and the two begin spending quite a bit of time together.

Then Ellen goes home for a school break and meets her southern pastor’s son and spends time with him.

She returns to school in Virginia, confused with tangled feelings. She prays the Lord would direct her and show her which young man is the one she might one day marry.

Between the southern tensions and the struggle to make a decision on a young man, this story kept me turning page after page. I was rooting for one particular young man, but eventually liked both men so much that I was confused. I had to keep turning pages to see how the story would clear up both Ellen’s and my confusion about which young man was right for her.

There was one place in the story where I was jolted out of the story for a chapter or two because Ellen was suddenly missing from a chapter or two. I was suddenly reading about a young man and another girl. Things soon became clear, when Ellen returned to the story and eventually met this young man.

All in all, I thought this story was very well written, it captured and held my attention, and I had to keep reading to see whom Ellen would spend her life with. Not only was it a decision as to who she would marry, but where the Lord wanted her to minister — foreign missions or missions in her own country.

I certainly hope Idella Borntrager Otto will be producing more books because I definitely look forward to reading more from her.

In the Shadow of Your Wings by J.P. Robinson

Another great historical story from J.P. Robinson! In the Shadow of Your Wings moves between characters in Germany and Great Britain during war time. Leila Durand is  a German spy with a troubled past who falls in love with Malcom, the son of Thomas Steele, a British icon, whose home she is to infiltrate. She struggles between her love for Germany and her love for an enemy of Germany, and trouble seems to follow her wherever she goes.

Eleanor Thompson is a woman of faith, but her faith is pushed to its very limits when her infant daughter is killed in a German air raid after her husband has gone off to fight in the war. However, Eleanor doesn’t give up on life as she remains hopeful to reunite with her husband when the war is over, but he doesn’t answer any of her letters. As she sees the horrors of war, she begins to lose hope, yet stubbornly clings to her faith.

J.P. Robinson weaves a tale of intrigue and history as these characters’ lives intertwine in unexpected ways. There is also a German family that takes center stage in some chapters. This book shows the heartbreak of war and the struggle for faith. It is my favorite of  Mr. Robinson’s book so far.

I highly recommend this book to anyone who loves historical fiction that includes intrigue and suspense.

 

Bride Tree by J.P. Robinson

Bride Tree (Secrets of Versailles Book 2) by [Robinson, JP]

Bride Tree “Secrets of Versailles” Book II by J.P. Robinson is an epic tale of Queen Marie-Antoinette during 1789, when France is reeling from a civil war between its social classes.

This is the second book in the “Secrets of Versailles” series by J.P. Robinson. The first was Twice Born. You can read my review of Twice Born here.

Bride Tree is a story filled with French history, action, romance, betrayal, suspense, and allegory. Characters stretch across the social classes. Some I hated, some I loved, and some I had mixed feelings for. I identified with some of the characters, found it hard to understand others, and pitied others. I cheered for some of the characters. I laughed and cried. To me, that is the mark of a great story — it grabbed my emotions and touched my heart. The characters of Bride Tree will forever remain dear to my heart.

I also love the cover of this book. I find it beautiful and eye-catching.

I highly recommend Bride Tree to adults who love to read historical stories, especially epic accounts. I recommend Bride Tree to adults who like to be emotionally gripped by a book and who enjoy a book that keeps you turning pages — a book you just can’t put down.

This book may also be appropriate for some young adults, but, a word of caution: this book contains some graphic violence and some sexual scenes and innuendo.