Friday, January 5, 2018

Book Babies + Book Review

Over the weekend, I got a special picture with a friend of mine. It's a "book mama" picture--the two of us with our first full-length novels, released within just one month of one another!

It's a special celebration. Amanda and I have been able to chat writing, share coffee shop experiences, watch performances of Beauty and the Beast together, and chat about all things literature and history. She's a multi-published author with Barbour, with novellas ranging from elegant England to Texas towns. 

It's a joy to have her here today, and her novel, My Heart Belongs in Niagara Falls, New York, is the perfect book to kick off your 2018 Goodreads reading challenges. 

About the Book

Journey now to Niagara Falls, New York, of 1870 where...

She avoids danger at all costs. He makes his living by rushing headlong into it.

Outwardly, Adele Linley’s trip to visit her American cousins is nothing more than a summer vacation. In reality, she’s the daughter of an English aristocrat with barely a penny to her name seeking a rich American husband.

Having grown up in an overcrowded orphanage, Drew Dawson is determined to make a name for himself. He’ll take any honest job to provide for his sister—even crossing Niagara Falls by tightrope.

On a sightseeing trip to the Falls, Adele meets several eligible suitors. Incredibly wealthy and pompous, Franklin Conway takes an immediate fancy to her. But Adele would truly like to marry for love. When she encounters the mysterious Drew in the garden, Adele is confused by her feelings for someone who is everything she is not looking for. Will they both stay the course they have chosen for themselves?

My Thoughts 

Drew Dawson was a hero I really enjoyed. He's committed to providing for his crippled sister, Hope, and he has obstacles in his way, but even though he lives in the poor side of town, he has an upbeat, optimistic confidence in the face of his difficulties. He's the sort of character you'd want to bring your problems to, because even though he feels natural worry, he doesn't collapse in the face of difficulty. He'll meet it with a smile, a lot of hard work, and gritted teeth in hopes of a win. Drew is an honest, manly, caring friend, and comes across the page so naturally that I'd enjoy knowing him in real life. He makes not only a good friend but also strong husband material, ready to face the challenges of providing for a wife and family. I could picture him so clearly in my mind as a person, and I'm glad to have made his acquaintance. (Also, I think I'd be up for trying tightrope walking across the Falls.) 

I also loved Hope as a side character, and Delany. They were so fun, and they'd be just the type of friends you'd want to have over for a game night on New Year's Eve, or even share the hard things of life with when you need an encouraging word. 

The other thing I thought was incredibly well done was how Amanda carried through on theme. I heard her talk a little bit about it before I read the book, and I really liked the way she put it in her novel. Adele loves to be in control of her life, and the plot shows where her choices lead to, driving big story events forward one after another. When theme and plot in a book are inseparable, that's really good writing. The aftermath of Adele's choices held so true to someone trying to control their life instead of letting God control it. While I don't want to give away any of the story, I thought the progression to harder and harder consequences showed a lot of strength as an author. The story let Adele experience hard knocks and didn't protect her from the aftermath of those choices. It's so easyto give characters an easy out when they sin, but Amanda told the story with honesty and redemption. It convicts and comforts in the best of both ways. 

I couldn't put it down. I even ignored Pride and Prejudice when the family was watching it on the television. I think you'll really enjoy it just as much as I did. I received a review copy of this book from the author. All opinions expressed are my own. You can find your own copy on Amazon, or you can also enter the gorgeous giveaway on Rafflecopter to win a book package, including a bag with real vintage lace! 

To enter, follow the Rafflecopter link:

Add My Heart Belongs in Niagara Falls, New York, on Goodreads:

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  1. Aww, thank you so much for this beautiful review, friend! It makes my heart happy to know you connected with the characters! You totally captured the essence of Drew. And I’d seriously like to do that New Year’s Eve game night with Hope and Delany, Ben and Terry. I think Delany and Terry would get along well. :-)

    It’s been so special to share this debut novelist journey together! I can’t wait to see what the Lord has in store for both of us in 2018!

    1. You are so welcome, friend! We'll have to get someone to do artwork or something, like Kara Swanson and Bethany Jennings did. I loved the hot dog artwork on Facebook with their two characters. :)

      I can't wait to share the journey with you in 2018!

  2. I love this...I have had three human babies, but I've never written or published a book; and yet, as I watched the labor process of editing and preparing the book for publication, I was struck by the parallel experiences. Congratulations to both of you for reaching this point!!!!!

    1. I'm hoping this will be good practice for human babies, lol! It's been such a fun, incredible journey to have this year. :)


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