Tuesday, June 24, 2014

My review: A Place in His Heart

A Place in His Heart is the first book in Rebecca DeMarino's newest series, The Southhold Chronicles. 

Description: Anglican Mary Langton longs to marry for love. Puritan Barnabas Horton is still in love with his deceased wife and needs only a mother for his two young sons. And yet these two very different people with very different expectations will take a leap of faith, wed, and then embark on a life-changing journey across the ocean to the Colonies. Along the way, each must learn to live in harmony, to wait on God, and to recognize true love where they least expect to find it.

About the Author:
Rebecca DeMarino is a member of American Christian Fiction Writers, Romance Writers of America, and The Southold Long Island Historical Society. She was a 2011 Genesis Award semi-finalist. Rebecca is retired from a major airline and lives in the Pacific Northwest with her husband, Tom. Learn more at www.rebeccademarino.com.

My review - 2 stars
Barely finished it.
A Place in His Heart is the first book in Rebecca DeMarino’s new series The Southhold Chronicles. I am always intrigued by marriage of convenience stories, so I was really interested to see what Ms. DeMarino would do with that. I was also curious about the time period - I haven’t read many books set in the 1600s. I’m sorry to say that after all my anticipation, I did not enjoy this book. It felt more like a nonfiction book that a romance novel. The descriptions were great, the historical detail well researched, but the relationships and characters fell flat. The historical detail overshadowed pretty much everything.
I found the heroine, Mary Langton-Horton to be a very annoying character. She spends the first few chapters of the book telling her father she wishes to marry for love - her excuse to not marry the man her father has chosen for her. But, she then marries Barnabas, a man she knows doesn’t love her and who is only marrying her so that his young sons will have a mother. This would have been okay, but during what seemed like every chapter (actually, it was probably only about half of them) she laments about her husband not loving her. I could not connect with her, at all.
Barnabas Horton was even worse for me. This book covers about 9 years and for all but the last chapter, he still misses his late wife and compares Mary to her. How could he be married to Mary for 9 years and still not care anything for her? He says wants to please her, but he ignores her, all-but forces her to leave England for Massachusetts, and doesn’t seem to respect her. All he thinks about is his church, his late wife, and the fact that his current wife isn’t giving him the children he desires. I couldn’t find it in me to like him at all. I really just wanted Mary to wise up and realize that he wasn’t worth her time.
The main thing, other than Barnabas’ attitude, that bothered me was how the book jumped months or even years at a time. I would finish a chapter, then have to flip back to the beginning of it to find out how much time had passed. I felt like I missed so much of their lives because of this. Granted, if she hadn’t done that, the book would’ve been huge, but still, that really bothered me. It was also one of the reasons I couldn’t connect with the characters.
The romance also falls short of what I expected. The characters spend time together, but there is little to no love shown. There were several times where I really wanted there to be a sweet moment between Barnabas and Mary, but if there was one, it ended quickly, swallowed up by one of the seemingly endless descriptions. Or it would get cut off by the end of a chapter, which would then skip a minimum of a week.
There was also a major theological problem for me. Mary desires to have children of her own and when she doesn’t, she and Barnabas come to the conclusion that God will give them a child after they have completed the work He has for them - going to the New World, building a home and a church, etc. I don’t agree with this. It gave the impression that they had to earn God’s favor.
I so often felt like an uncaring bystander while reading this book. I wanted it to draw me in and engage me, but this is a book that I wanted to finish as soon as possible, not to know what happens, but just to get it over with and move on.
The reason I gave this book 2 stars is because it was well researched and Ms. DeMarino brought the scenes to life with her descriptions.
I recommend this book if you like history and are interested in reading about a often ignored time period.
I received a copy of this book through The Christian Manifesto for my honest review, which I have given. I was not required to write a positive review and all opinions expressed are my own.

Thanks for stopping by!  I hope you enjoyed my review.  If you've read this book, what did you think?  I'm always interested to hear other opinions (yes, even opposing ones), so if you have time, I would love to hear your thoughts! :)

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