I knew that C.S. Lewis and I had more in common than our Christianity when he said, "You can never get a cup of tea large enough or a book long enough to suit me." Welcome to a celebration of faith, tea, and the written word. I'm always engaged in a book, and whether it's one I'm reading or one of the inspirational historical romances I write, there's always a cup of tea close by. Join me in a cup as we chat about faith, our favorite books and the exciting places our reading and writing adventures take us.

Tuesday, November 29, 2011

Dance of the Dandelion, a Tale of Redemption

Dina Sleiman’s debut novel, Dance of the Dandelion, is a beautifully-written tale of rebellion and redemption set in 14th-century Europe.

After a devastating famine, peasant Dandelion Dering fears going hungry again, and doesn’t believe God can be trusted to provide for her. While she loves and is loved by William, she plans to become a servant at the local castle, where food is abundant and a thrill of excitement perfumes the air. Little does she expect her choice will take her on a journey far from William, her family, and England…but never too far to escape the love and forgiveness offered by God.

Dandelion is easy to relate to: she’s loving and vibrant, but she’s utterly dissatisfied with her lot in life. When she repeatedly takes her future into her own hands, troubles tumble one after another onto her path. It takes years and a heap of heartache for her to accept God on His terms and live according to His will, not her own. But when she does begin to see God for who He is, the experience is profound, not a cheap, quick fix.

Readers should be aware that there are a few components in the book which may be considered edgy to a Christian market, including a strong sensual element—nothing gratuitous or erotic—but moms may wish to screen first.  Personally, I found the references to sensual situations to be culturally realistic to both the medieval period and today. It might be worth reading the story with an older teenage daughter in order to discuss the temptations Dandelion allows herself to fall into, as well as the repercussions of her choices.

Sleiman’s well-crafted debut is quick-paced, well-researched, and lyrically written. Her message of God’s overwhelming grace is one of encouragement and power. Readers might recognize themselves in Dandelion, and learn a bit about their relationships with God, too.

Tuesday, November 22, 2011

A Necessary Deception

In 1812, England is engaged in war against France…and on the verge of another war with the Americans. Political intrigue swirls through the ballrooms of London’s elite like the silk gowns of marriage-minded debutantes.

In this environment of whispers and schemes—both political and matrimonial—Laurie Alice Eakes delivers a satisfying tale in A Necessary Deception, weaving delicious Regency detail with a fast-paced plot and a tender romance.

Young widow Lady Lydia Gale believes she is repaying a favor of her deceased husband’s when she obtains parole for a French prisoner, expecting to never hear about the matter again. But when a mysterious man uses the information to blackmail her, placing her family in jeopardy, Lydia’s troubles are just beginning. When the French prisoner, Christien de Meuse, appears in her drawing room, Lydia finds herself enmeshed in a dangerous web of international stratagems.

Lydia should be helping her younger sisters, bluestocking Cassandra and defiantly daring Honore, make their bows to Society, but balancing her responsibility with handling the terms of her blackmailer is no small task. Especially when she feels attracted to the Frenchman. For which country does he truly spy? Is she protecting her family or leading them into danger?

Eakes is an award-winning author, recognized for her way with a story and her attention to historical detail. Once again, she's written an engaging plot, emotionally and spiritually. I was fully invested in Lydia and Christien's adventure. The blackmail plot takes many twists and turns, too, urging the reader to keep turning pages to determine the identity of the true villain. The characters are interesting and sympathetic, and I’m pleased I’ll get to see them again in two more books, forthcoming in the Daughters of Bainbridge series.

Find Laurie Alice Eakes online at www.lauriealiceeakes.com.  A Necessary Deception is available at your favorite Christian retailer or on Amazon.

I received a copy of this novel from the publisher for the purposes of review. A favorable review was neither expected nor promised.