RATING: 4 Stars
From the Cover ~
Ann dreams of a marriage proposal from her poetic suitor, Eli—until Will Hanby shows her that nobility is more than fine words.
On a small farm in 19th-century Ohio, young Ann Miller is pursued by the gallant Eli Bowen, son of a prominent family. Eli is the suitor of Ann’s dreams. Like her, he enjoys poetry and beautiful things and soon, he will move to the city to become a doctor.
Ann travels to Pittsburgh, accompanying her father on business. There she meets Will Hanby, a saddle-maker’s apprentice. Will has spent years eking out an existence under a cruel master and his spirit is nearly broken. But Ann’s compassion lights a long-dark part of his soul. Through his encounters with Ann’s father, a master saddler, Will discovers new hope and courage in the midst of tremendous adversity.
When the Millers must return to Ohio and their ministry there, Will resolves to find them, at any cost. If Will can make it back to Ann, will she be waiting?
My Thoughts ~
From the beginning, Elliot’s words captured my attention. I don’t know if it was my need to read a book after not having read one in a good couple weeks, but nonetheless, my attention was taken! Given that is a hard thing to do as I have been intently watching NCIS from the beginning, and am now up to Season 7. For NCIS fans, I understand how addicting it can be!!! Waiting for the next season from the Library is nearly torture. But that proves for another discussion some other time. Back to the review….
I must admit that I was fearful of not liking Will. Drawn from past experiences (from reading, of course), men who are bound to their masters and are beaten (nearly to death) and starved, have had some sort of vulnerable and fragile appeal to them. While there is nothing wrong with this!!!!, I prefer my heroes to be able to stand on their own two feet with courage, determination and a strong personality. Elliot does a phenomenal job with this! All the central characters are so well rounded and have such a deep personality that I felt like I knew them all. Having read my fair share of books, I can understand that that is not necessarily an easy achievement. However Elliot mastered it! I fell in love with the story and having finished it now, I can hardly wait to read another of Elliot’s books.
The story line was so complex. Both Ann and Will had promised themselves to, what they believed to be their husband and wife, that I began to doubt Ann and Will will ever get together. But the more I read, the more I appreciated and noticed their undercurrent affections for each other. It didn’t come immediately though as it came more than half-way through the book. This, as you can imagine, made for a great ending. I was beginning to get concerned that it would not end the way I imagined, so I skim read the pages (which I never do FYI)! The match-making though, of the father, was funny. I had a feeling he knew all along!
The main highlight of the book though, was the message Elliot conveyed. In amongst the rush of life, it is so easy to forget looking out for others and doing good-will, being compassionate and making sure their needs are met before yours. That is what struck me. The nature of Samuel Miller’s heart – helping slaves runaway and being a spark of hope for Will – whilst having to live with little money for his family, really resonated with me. Then there are other characters, such as Ann and Dr. Loftin that further encouraged this view as I was forced to reflect upon my Christian heart, and if I would help those in need. I would like to think that I would! I can’t imagine myself doing otherwise!
I can assure you that you will have many mixed emotions when reading this book – hatred, frustration, anger, love, compassion, understanding and many more! I hope that you will pick up this book and be inspired and encouraged like I was, whilst enjoying it, of course 😉