A Hope Remembered
About This Book
As the war ends, love begins.
Nora Lewis just wants an escape after losing her fiancé in the Great War. When she inherits property in England, she boldly packs up and leaves America for a fresh start. But, if not for her dashing new neighbor, Colin Ashby, she’d be lost. Even as their friendship deepens, Nora knows a British aristocrat would never be free to love an American orphan, no matter how much the war has changed the world . . .
After his brother’s death in the war and his own experiences as a pilot at the front, Colin returns home broken, only to discover his family’s estate is also in ruin. The pressure is now on him to save his home and the Ashby’s place in society with a well-bred match to a wealthy heiress. Too bad he finds more of a kindred spirit in Nora, the beautiful American next door. She, too, has faced the rigors of war and survived. Now the ex-soldier will have one more battle to fight—this time for love.
I picked up the first and second books in this series a while back but haven’t yet had time to read them, so when I saw this third one, I thought I might as well dive in and see if these novels really do stand-alone! Looking at some of the other romance titles on this secular publisher’s website, I was wary about what this book might have in store for me. But it didn’t take long to realize this was, in fact, a faith-based romance, and by the end of this book, I knew I’d found a new favorite author!
I really don’t know why one of the Christian publishing houses didn’t snatch up this series—it’s everything CBA readers look for and then some. Skillful writing with beautiful imagery, a strong sense of voice, good balance between prose and dialogue, with every scene flowing smoothly into the next . . . this book was technically a great pleasure to read.
Nora and Colin were instantly likable and relatable despite their equally grim circumstances at the outset of this story—or perhaps even because of them. They felt very real and natural, and as they slowly brought each other out of their grief, they brought the story to life. The secondary characters were all well-developed and added much to the story world without overpowering Nora and Colin’s story.
The conflict and tension in this story were absolutely spot-on. I was immediately drawn in by both Nora’s and Colin’s internal struggles as well as their external opposition, from others and from each other. As writers, we’re taught to give our characters diametrically-opposed goals and desires so that it appears there is no possible solution, and Henrie delivered just that and then some. And the romantic tension was lights out! Henrie did everything exactly right in the way she brought Nora and Colin together and allowed their friendship and romance to blossom all on its own. They definitely have a lot to overcome in order to be together, not to mention some pretty big sacrifices on both sides, and the result is a happily-ever-after I was literally cheering for.
Henrie also clearly did her research (evident even without the author’s note), and she flawlessly brings the 1920s English countryside to life. From aristocratic parties to sheep farming, from soaring in a biplane to village church choir practice, Henrie imbues her story with such rich and minute details that I felt I was really there. Often American authors go overboard trying to show just how much research they’ve done for their international story, and most historical authors love to show off their research, too, so that an historical romance set overseas might very well suffer from author intrusion that overwhelms the plot—but that is definitely not the case with A Hope Remembered. The story remained front and center but was firmly and wonderfully grounded in its period setting.
This story’s spiritual message was appropriately subdued for its historical time period, but I feel general market readers might find some scenes and conversations between the characters to be a bit too much—which again makes me wonder how this series came to be at Forever. The post-war setting gives the characters several opportunities to discuss the spiritual ramifications of the war and why God allows suffering, and Nora and Colin both demonstrate a deeper relationship with Him as the story unfolds. There was no questionable content of any kind.
Pre-Depression 20th Century is the era I personally live for, both as a reader and writer, so I am always eager to devour stories in this setting, and this book’s UK setting was a refreshing change from what I’ve lately read in this era. This is a top-notch example of historical romance in any market, but is a must-read for lovers of inspirational Historical Romance in particular. As a movie, this would almost be rated G, though the trauma and mature themes of the war might be more appropriate for a PG rating. I would recommend this book to my non-Christian family and friends, and I hope that, with this secular publisher, it does indeed make its way into a lot of readers’ hands who don’t normally pick up inspirational fiction. While part of the Of Love and War series, this book absolutely stood on its own.
The only reason I’m not giving this book five stars is because there were a couple scenes in the middle where the pace dragged a bit for me, where the action felt a little too routine when I felt something new should be happening to move the story along. Other than that, the structure was solid, with just the right amount of back story crumbs to help me understand these characters without dumping a bunch of information all at once. The satisfying ending, I expect, also ties up the series nicely (though I won’t be able to say for sure until I read the first two books . . . which I really, really want to do now!).
In all, A Hope Remembered is a surprisingly sweet, emotionally charged, spirit-filled find from a publisher I normally wouldn’t look at even once. Packed with vivid imagery, outstanding historical detail, and a strong message of hope in the midst of grief and suffering, this is a romance to savor and enjoy over and over again. Not only did this book—and this series—find a permanent home on my keeper shelf, but this talented author is now on my must-read list. I can’t wait to read more!
Available March 31, 2015 from Forever (Grand Central) Publishing