Monday, October 04, 2010

Love's First Bloom by Delia Parr (book review)



If you knew me IRL, you'd probably pick up on my love of historical fiction.  I have always loved history and historical romances combine both history and passion, an unbeatable mix!  I was fortunate to have received a copy of Delia Parr's new novel, Love's First Bloom, from Bethany House to review.

The story begins with Ruth, who flees New York City at the insistence of her father.  A scandal is brewing and he is going to be tried for murder.  He wants her, and a little girl named Lily, as far away as possible.  He ships her off to Tom's River, New Jersey, where she is taken in by a loving couple.  She lives there under a double alias, first as a former prostitute to her caretakers and secondly as a widow with a child to the townsfolk.

Ruth finds some solace in a nearby garden, but must interact with it's injured owner, Jake Spencer, who is really newspaperman sent to find her.  Exposing Ruth would mean Jake could be reunited with his brother and rejoin their newspaper honorably.  Falling in love with her was unexpected and now leaves Jake torn between two futures:  life with Ruth if she'll have him or redemption as a reporter.

My Take:

Love's First Bloom took a while to get into.  I just didn't feel the "can't put the book" down feeling with this novel.  I liked Ruth's character well enough and felt like I was given enough back story to make her feel whole.  I found her character to be very believable and endearing.

With Jake Spencer's character, I didn't like him nearly as much.  As a disguise, he fakes an injured back.  This got old.  I wish that the author would have cured him half way through or at least not given him such a severe fake injury.  I think it impeded the love story, though it made for good drama when he finally came clean.

Bethany House does publish Christian romances, of which this is one.  What I liked about Love's First Bloom was that while there was religion, it was very light.  The author wove it into the story quite well, and didn't make you feel that it was just shoved into the story line because Ruth happened to be a daughter of a man of the cloth.  There were even a few scenes that I wept with Ruth as I felt her pain of loss and frustration.

The mystery of the secret of the box was not one that I expected, yet was very fitting.  I like to be surprised and not have guessed the mystery half way through.  It also wasn't hokey or "Scooby Doo-ish" the way it was revealed.

Overall, I liked the book and it is worth hanging in there despite the slow start.  Please visit Bethany House's website to learn more about Love's First Bloom.

Disclosure:  I received a copy of Love's First Bloom at no cost to me, courtesy of Bethany House.  Though the book was provided to me at no cost, the opinions stated herein are 100% my own.
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