Tag Archives: christian fiction

Book review: The Preacher’s Bride by Jody Hedlund

Book blurb (from Good Reads, with some edits by me)

In 1650s England, a young Puritan maiden is on a mission to save the baby of her newly widowed preacher – whether her assistance is wanted or not. Always ready to help those in need, Elizabeth Whitbread ignores John Costin’s protests of her aid. She’s even willing to risk her lone marriage prospect to help the little family.

Yet Elizabeth’s new role as nanny takes a dangerous turn when John’s boldness from the pulpit makes him a target of political and religious leaders. As the preacher’s enemies become desperate to silence him, they draw Elizabeth into a deadly web of deception. Finding herself in more danger than she ever bargained for, she’s more determined than ever to save the  family she’s come to love.

My thoughts

It’s been ages since I’ve read a book with romance as one of its central themes. It’s been even longer since I’ve read historical fiction. And Christian fiction? I’ve read one book that fits that description in my entire life, before this one. But I’ve been reading Jody Hedlund‘s blog for a while now and was interested to see what her writing was like. So when my blogging buddy Susanna Leonard Hill said she had a copy that she wanted to send on a ‘book journey’, it seemed meant to be… 😉

I must admit, it took me a little while to get into The Preacher’s Bride. This wasn’t because the beginning was dull, far from it. I just wasn’t used to reading fiction with such strong religious content. But the religious aspect made complete sense in the context of the book, so I soon settled into it. And when I did, boy did the plot grab me. As Elizabeth became more and more attached to the Costin family, so did I. Jody’s descriptions of the struggling family were 100% realistic and my heart broke for them on more than one occasion.

I particularly enjoyed the book’s narration, which shifted effortlessly between Elizabeth and John’s perspectives and gave me wonderful insight into the situation from both points of view.  The development of their relationship came across as organic and believable, and I could see clearly why they were suited to each other but also what obstacles lay in their path to happiness.

In my last book review, I said that Katniss Everdeen was an awesome heroine. Even though Katniss and Elizabeth have almost nothing in common, the same praise applies to Elizabeth. Actually, the more I think about it, the more I realise that despite their surface differences they actually have a lot in common – they’re both courageous, strong-willed, self-sacrificing and resourceful. Who would have thought!

Another of my favourite characters from The Preacher’s Bride was Mary, John’s blind daughter who is more perceptive than most of us who can see. She was portrayed with great empathy and realism, and I loved reading every scene that she played a role in.

My only criticism of The Preacher’s Bride is that I found some of the descriptions and figurative language a little over done. This could be because I read a lot of young adult fiction, which is typically more sparse, but I did find the narrative just a little too verbose for my taste at times. But this had very little impact on my overall enjoyable of the book, and I can’t wait to read Jody’s second offering, The Doctor’s Lady.

My rating: 4 stars

My rating: 4 stars

Your turn

Have you read The Preacher’s Bride? If so, what did you think? If not, do you think you will?

My 1-5 scale
1: Terrible. I couldn’t finish it.
2: Dissatisfying.
3: Good but not great.
3.5: A solid, enjoyable read but still some elements not working for me.
4: Really enjoyable with very few flaws OR flawed, but I loved it anyway.
4.5: Unputdownable. Close to perfect. I’ll rave about it to anyone who listens.
5: Perfection (i.e. pretty much unattainable.).

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Filed under Book review, Writing

Dora Hiers in the HOT SEAT

Dora Hiers edges her way forward towards the flames. She may be nervous, but she’s determined she will survive no matter how badly she gets burnt. Very brave is Dora. Very brave. But will bravery help her handle the HOT SEAT?

Gday, Dora!

Let’s get started. What genre(s) do you write, Dora?

Inspirational romance. What I like to call heart racing, God-gracing romance.

Tell us about your latest book in 25 words or less.

I just typed “The End” on Journey’s Embrace. Hmmm…how about this?

When a flight medic’s life hangs by her fingertips, can a wounded U.S. Deputy Marshal overcome his fears to save her and embrace love?

[CJ: Oooh, I hope the answer is yes!]

Most of us write part time. How do you spend your time when you’re not writing?

Reading. What else do writers do to relax? In the summer, my hubby enjoys cranking up the smoker for family gatherings, guaranteeing a crowd around the table. I swear my youngest son catches a whiff of the finger-licking ribs two hours away.

Dora's Grandkids

When the temperature cools, you’ll catch me flicking the fireplace switch on and kicking back under a blanket to cheer for the Carolina Panthers and the Tampa Bay Lightning. Just about any time of the year, we’re game for a quick jaunt to the mountains. And nothing beats spending time with our grandkids! See those cuties!

[CJ: Awww, very cute. And I agree, reading is an awesome way to relax.]

Tell us a little about your writing process.

As organized as I am in everything else, it pains me to confess that I’m a pantser. But, honestly, I’ve tried outlining. Can you picture me staring at a blank screen until my eyeballs pop? So, I try not to let it bother me and just accept that I’m a pantser. My goal is to give birth to great characters and hook a reader into an opening scene, and let the story flow organically from there. 

[CJ: Gasp! You’re a pantser?! If I’d known that before I agreed to interview you, things would’ve been different… ;-)]

Who or what are your biggest writing inspirations?

God, first. Next, my husband. He’s my best friend, my encourager, and my biggest promoter!

What have been the biggest challenges you’ve faced as a writer?

Hmm…Self-discipline. Forcing my rump to sit in the chair and write and not be distracted by overflowing laundry baskets, the grass that’s about six inches too high, personal phone calls, you name it. When you work from home, it’s tough to overlook household tasks and particularly difficult to say “no” to personal requests. But, one thing I can’t say no to: watching a sick grandchild.

[CJ: And nor should do. No matter how important writing is, family comes first.]

OK, Cally. It’s been really nice chatting with you. I’ve seen your HOT SEAT questions before, and I don’t think I’m quite ready for…

[CJ: Nice try, but you’re not getting out of it that easily!]

Time for the HOT SEAT questions!

Hot Seat

*Insert scary music here*

If someone important in your life told you that you had to stop writing or never see them again, what would you do?  

Ah. That’s not so bad. <Swiping a hand across my glistening forehead>

I’d give it up.

Whoa! I can hear your collective gasp all the way to North Carolina.

[CJ: I didn’t realise I was that loud. But I’m keen for you to elaborate! :)]

I wasn’t born with a pen in my hand like some writers. My urge to write came later in life, when my youngest son started middle school and didn’t want me hanging out at school with him anymore. LOL. I knew I needed something more to fill my days. An avid inspirational romance reader, God planted a story idea that pinged around in my head for a few months until I finally confessed my desire to write to my husband. With his enthusiastic support, I started pounding out the story.

My hubby’s the one, besides me, most vested in my writing. If he asked me to give up writing, he would have a good reason for doing so. And I’d honor that request. Because I love him, and writing takes a back seat to the needs of my family.

But I’d miss it, something fierce. No doubt about that.  

[CJ: Okay, now I understand. Well said.]

Finish this sentence from your character Chelsea’s perspective.

Something from my past that I’ve had trouble getting over is…  my husband’s murder.

[CJ: Oh dear. Yes, that would be hard to get over.]

I’m an ordinary woman with dreams budding in my heart and grief choking me from my past. But it’s time to move on, and that’s what I hoped to do by opening Journey’s End, a shelter for troubled teens, in honor of my late husband.

Did you catch that? Hoped? Because I didn’t expect my first arrival, Jake, to be the son of my husband’s murderer, scared and running for his life. Or to call in the marshals office because Jake wants to testify against his father. And who shows up? Trey Colten. The guy in charge of the undercover operation that killed my husband. Trey claims his job is to protect me. Ha! God definitely has a sense of humor!

If Trey thinks I’m going to sit around and twiddle my thumbs waiting for Jake’s father to show up, he’s mistaken. I don’t need his protection. And although I may be ready for another relationship, especially with a guy who helps with the dishes and feeds my animals, it won’t be with another law enforcement officer.

[CJ: What an awesome premise. You’ve definitely caught my attention – and through a HOT SEAT question too. I’m impressed.]

Now finish the same sentence from your own perspective.

Something from my past that I’ve had trouble getting over is Ouch. Who likes digging painful things up?

[CJ: Me. That’s the purpose of the HOT SEAT. :D]

OK. OK.

Four years ago, we moved from Florida to North Carolina. My youngest son was in the International Baccalaureate Program in high school at the time. He’d debated for some time about getting out, so we weren’t too concerned that our new city didn’t offer the IB program.

Maybe we should have been more concerned. Our youngest son opted to finish high school in Florida. Moving across states is tough enough, but add leaving a son behind. Oy! I was miserable. Angry. Resentful. Like my heart literally ripped in half.

[CJ: :(]

After a few counselling sessions and much time in prayer, God helped me break free from those dark emotions and into the glorious sunshine. Since then, both our sons moved to North Carolina. Our youngest attends a college two hours away from us. And you know what? He loves North Carolina! How cool is that?

[CJ: Hooray for happy endings!]

Thanks so much for inviting me to the Hot Seat, Cally. I enjoyed visiting with you!

[CJ: You’re very welcome. :-)]

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If you’d like to hear more from Dora, check out her blog or website. Dora has been kind enough to offer a copy of Journey’s End to one lucky reader. First one to say they’d like a copy gets it, so shout out!

If you’d like a turn in the HOT SEAT, let me know in the comments and I’ll schedule you in for a buttocks burning. 😀

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Filed under Hot Seat, Writer interview, Writers, Writing