Roses & Thorns

Roses & Thorns

Thursday, January 22, 2015

A Trusting Heart, Souls of Indenture 2, by Mary Andersen



Oxford, Maryland

Susannah Smith is devastated by the unexpected death of her husband, James. They had shared a depth of love that she knew she would never find with another. Yet the way of things is to remarry quickly, and her financial situation demands she do just that. Since marriageable women are scarce, potential suitors constantly hound her to accept their proposals. She would have to choose very wisely though. Marriage to a drunkard, a womanizer, or a man prone to violence was out of the question. Even though most of the prospects seem like decent men, time and time again Susannah turns them down, still unable to accept the idea of moving on.

A mysterious stranger...

Perhaps the best option is to avoid marriage altogether and remain a widow. If she sells James' candle shop, she can use the proceeds to support herself for a while longer, or to gain passage up the bay in hopes of living with her family. However, not only dust has taken up residence in the abandoned building. Much to her dismay, she discovers that a wounded squatter has found refuge there as well.

Josiah Richards represents everything Susannah despises. Quite frankly, he scares her to death, and his unorthodox ways are turning her life upside down. Yet her traitorous heart reaches out to him still. There are things about this dangerous man that she longs to figure out. Why is he there? And why does it feel like the pain she sees in the handsome stranger's eyes is the result of more than just his physical injuries? Will he ever trust her enough to open his heart and let her in? Or will his violent past end up destroying them both?

Donna's Review

While I enjoyed certain aspects of Mary Andersen’s first novel, A Willing Heart, which review you can read here, her second novel, A Trusting Heart, sucked and pulled me in from the start. Andersen is developing a style that is not only raw and gritty, but chock full of historical facts and details, from the dialogue to the food and clothing to the historical events of the time. I really felt immersed in the late 17th century of the young British Empire.

In A Trusting Heart  Andersen brings us recently widowed Susannah Smith and Josiah Richards, a young man who carries his torments with him and believes he can never be free of his past. His transformation into a man who can finally trust Susannah is excellently done. It is particularly poignant that he cannot stand her touch at the beginning, even as that is the very thing he needs to heal him, not only physically but mentally as well.  The courage he finds later to face his past is admirable, and his spiritual journey is believable and not trite or over blown.

The dialogue was particularly impressive. It has an “old feel” but still flows naturally and lends itself to the story.  Dialogue in historical fiction will literally keep us writers up at night. The trick, of course, is to sprinkle enough words and phrasing in our characters' mouths to give the reader a flavor of the times but not cause a burden when reading.  In this instance, Andersen hit a fabulous balance that enhances the setting.

The plot was tight and moved quickly. There were a number of times I just couldn’t really determine in my mind where Andersen was moving next with the story as it didn’t seem there were any possibilities of a resolution towards a happily-ever-after. This book literally kept me guessing at every turn, so naturally I had a hard time putting it down. In a genre that relies on happily-ever-afters, messing with a reader’s mind can be difficult. Andersen did not disappoint.

This is a gritty, Christian novel about the power of healing a human heart and the need for forgiveness, both from others as well as ourselves. There are some birthing scenes that are rather realistic. There is a description of an Indian attack, and there is a murder and near hanging. Josiah’s issues are real. He’s not a Christian at the beginning, and he has led a worldly life. This is never detailed in specifics, but it is mentioned and discussed among the characters.

If you are looking for a sweet historical romance, this is not it. If you are looking for a raw, emotional experience that will touch your heart, then you will not be disappointed. An easy 5 roses on this one!

Now, to wait for the third in the trilogy. But waiting is so hard . . .  

Length:  492 PAGES
Print:  $12.50
Digital:  $0.99
Buy Link:

 Thanks for visiting, Rose, Julie, Donna, & Rochelle

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