The over-arching storyline of a marriage of convenience between a recently arrived immigrant and a grieving widower with five children to care for is not so new … but, other elements of the story made it unique. The first of which being that our heroine is being severely mistreated by her employer when she first meets her husband-to-be. His unselfish and quick response to save her from further harm, and not merely his good looks, are what our heroine is immediately drawn to. She knows immediately that this is a man of character. When she finds that man to be on trial for the death of his wife and custody of his children she has no fear (except of rejection) when stepping forward to quickly marry him and help him to keep his children.
My favorite unique factor about this book was its obvious incorporation of personal accounts from a very famous Michigan forest fire. You simply couldn’t make up that amount of realism. Serena did her homework, and the result was a fascinating read that was hard to put down!
More women than men would be interested in this book, however, anyone with an interest in the Michigan fire, or early lumber camp history would also enjoy it.
Book Cover Review
This cover is very beautiful, but not outstandingly so. The cherry blossoms in the background are a nice touch, but they do not give a sense of place or time to the cover, nor do they highlight the true story. Somehow incorporating the five young children and an out of the way forest backdrop would have drawn the right reader more. Cherry trees on their own are not remarkable, but cherry trees planted in the wilderness, or with young children or a dirty and tired couple helping to water and keep them alive during a drought would have been. (Easier said than done I know.)
Also, the shirtwaist of the young model on the cover doesn’t give away a lot in the realm of place or time period either. You can tell it is a historical, but not a lot else. Still a pretty cover, but not as effective as it could have been.
* Available October 2012 at your favorite bookseller from Revell, a division of Baker Publishing Group.
The below information was additionally provided by Revell:
A Promise to Love
By Serena B. Miller
Serena B. Miller takes her readers on a rich, historical journey that combines both romance and a touch of mystery. In this fascinating story of love and family commitment, Miller introduces us to characters that capture our hearts and imagination as they discover that love is more than just words.
Ingrid Larsen, a young Swedish immigrant, arrives in Michigan in 1871 to search for her brother who has disappeared into the woods to work the dangerous lumber camps. Destitute and barely hanging on to hope, she encounters a newly-widowed farmer who is struggling to raise five children on his own. Marriage would solve both of their problems, and so Ingrid proposes to a man she barely knows. She will fight to protect her new family–but the hardest battle of all will be winning the heart of her new husband.
Serena B. Miller is the author of The Measure of Katie Calloway and Love Finds You in Sugarcreek, Ohio, as well as numerous articles for periodicals such as Woman’s World, Guideposts, Reader’s Digest, Focus on the Family, Christian Woman, and more. She lives on a farm in southern Ohio.
Endorsements for Serena B. Miller and A Promise to Love:
“A Promise to Love is historical fiction at its finest! Brimming with romance, history, and a touch of mystery, this story is a joyous portrayal of true love and God’s gift of family. Serena Miller writes with an irresistible freshness and honesty, crafting compelling characters that tug on your heartstrings and leave you changed. A Promise to Love met all my expectations and more. I eagerly anticipate her next novel!”—Laura Frantz, author of Love’s Reckoning
“In A Promise to Love, Serena Miller has done it again. With fascinating history and characters you can’t help but love, she’s written a story that pulls at your heartstrings and keeps you turning pages as fast as you can to see what happens next. And just when you think the story tension can’t get any higher, she turns up the excitement another notch. A story not to be missed!”—Ann H. Gabhart, author of Words Spoken True and The Gifted
“If you’re searching for novels with both heart and soul, you will love the thoughtful and richly satisfying works of Serena Miller. I do.”—Emilie Richards, author of Sunset Bridge and One Mountain Away
‘A Sweethaven Summer‘ by Courtney Walsh was a delightfully refreshing story, full of mystery … and eventually forgiveness. I have to admit that I was drawn to this story initially because one of the main characters is named Suzanne and it mentioned scrapbooking in the promo text. While reading the story I found out the character and I shared a love for art, scrapbooking, and middle names too! But that’s about where the direct similarities ended.
However, one of the overarching themes in the book is one I think most adults can relate to – the regret of not staying in touch with someone we were once close to. In the case of this story the main characters mother (Suzanne) has died suddenly and the three other young women pictured with her mother in numerous old scrapbook pages she finds in her mother’s house are her only hope to finding out who her father is. What she discovers along the way to discovering her father will change her life for the better – in more ways than one!
This debut novel was an enjoyable discovery. I look forward to seeing what this new author writes next.
Book Cover Review
The photos and colors chosen for this cover are perfect. The story is closely tied to a beach town and the connection between 4 teenage girls who scrapbook. So a beach photo and usage of a rich blue and sandy beige are very appropriate. However … I do wish that the cover artist had added a few more elements to the cover to simulate actual scrapbooking which is a major part of the story. It could easily have been done, and just seems like a lost opportunity to draw in scrapbooking fans to this story. As it is right now, the cover just appears to be a beach read about one summer captured in time on a single photo.
I do like the font choices though. They have a modern flair to them that helps to ground the cover as a contemporary novel, allowing it not to be mistaken by potential readers as a historical.
* This book was received by the Christian Fiction Blog Alliance for review. More information about the book and it’s author are below.
ABOUT THE AUTHOR:
Courtney Walsh is a published author, scrapbooker, theater director, and playwright. Her debut novel, A Sweethaven Summer, will be followed by two additional novels in the series. She’s also written two papercrafting books, Scrapbooking Your Faith and The Busy Scrapper. Courtney has been a contributing editor for Memory Makers Magazine and Children’s Ministry Magazine and is a frequent contributor to Group Publishing curriculum. She works as the PR Manager for Webster’s Pages from her home in Colorado, where she lives with her husband and three kids, who range in age from 4 to 10. Courtney drinks entirely too much coffee.
ABOUT THE BOOK
Suzanne’s daughter, Campbell, journeys there in search of answers to her questions about her mother’s history.Suzanne’s three friends-Lila, Jane, and Meghan-were torn apart by long-buried secrets and heartbreak. Though they haven’t spoken in years, each has pieces of a scrapbook they made together in Sweethaven. Suzanne’s letters have lured them all back to the idyllic lakeside town, where they meet Campbell and begin to remember what was so special about their long Sweethaven summers. As the scrapbook reveals secrets one by one, old wounds are mended, lives are changed,
and friendships are restored-just as Suzanne intended.