Promises to Keep – Genevieve Graham

Promises to KeepOn the Cover: Summer 1755, Acadia

Young, beautiful Amélie Belliveau lives with her family among the Acadians of Grande Pré, Nova Scotia, content with her life on their idyllic farm. Along with their friends, the neighbouring Mi’kmaq, the community believes they can remain on neutral political ground despite the rising tides of war. But peace can be fragile, and sometimes faith is not enough. When the Acadians refuse to pledge allegiance to the British in their war against the French, the army invades Grande Pré, claims the land, and rips the people from their homes. Amélie’s entire family, alongside the other Acadians, is exiled to ports unknown aboard dilapidated ships.

Fortunately, Amélie has made a powerful ally. Having survived his own harrowing experience at the hands of the English, Corporal Connor MacDonnell is a reluctant participant in the British plan to expel the Acadians from their homeland. His sympathy for Amélie gradually evolves into a profound love, and he resolves to help her and her family in any way he can—even if it means treason. As the last warmth of summer fades, more ships arrive to ferry the Acadians away, and Connor is forced to make a decision that will alter the future forever.

Heart-wrenching and captivating, Promises to Keep is a gloriously romantic tale of a young couple forced to risk everything amidst the uncertainties of war.

Published: April 2017

 


 

The Review:

I was excited for this book the moment I heard about it. After reading Graham’s Tides of Honour I was eager to read another of her novels. I had the luck to win Promises to Keep in a giveaway from the awesome Chrystal at Snowdrop Dreams – thank you again!

The one thing that made me fall in love with Graham’s writing is her ability to paint a picture with words. Promises to Keep begins in Grande Pré, and Graham undeniably captures the beauty of this land. Each sense is caught up in the descriptions, and I felt as though I could smell the sweet summer air, hear the ocean in the distance, and feel the sun on my skin. Graham’s writing truly transported me to this world. Even more magical was that I actually visited Grande Pré weeks after finishing this novel, and I felt as though I was truly stepping into Amélie’s world. The accuracy and depth to Graham’s visual depictions are stunning and leave me in awe.

The visual elements in Graham’s novels become even more significant when it comes to the history. The Acadians are subjected to terrible conditions during their relocations, which resulted in illness, starvation and in many cases, death. Here, Graham’s writing illuminates on their experience, her writing so vivid and impactful that it is hard to look away from the page. But just as strong is the resilience and determination of the Acadian people as they fight to survive. Amélie Belliveau speaks and fights with an unwavering vehemence and I absolutely loved the way Graham portrayed her character.

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If there was one thing I couldn’t get behind in this novel, it was the love story. This breaks my heart, for I really wanted to be swept away. Unfortunately, the love story is a little too Romeo-and-Juliet-esque, and it does border on insta-love in a way I just couldn’t enjoy. If there had been a bit more foundation to the romance in the beginning of the novel I would have been more convinced. That being said, I did enjoy the evolution throughout the book and by the end I was content.

Promises to Keep hits fairly close to home, as I am married to a Belliveau whose family was and is from the Grande Pré area. Reading a story that his ancestors literally lived through was incredibly deep and touching, and I understand his Acadian pride a little bit more. This book is rich in detail and is both beautiful and shattering. It a wonderful read for anyone who wants to explore this little corner of Canadian history and learn more about the Acadian people.

Rating: 4 / 5

Quotations: 

“The hummingbirds would return soon, tiny warriors marking the true beginning of summer in their frantic, efficient manner, and I smiled every time I saw them.” – p 1 

“In my life I’d never gone beyond the limits of Grande Pré, but from here I could see past the golden rises of the dykes and let my daydreams ride the Atlantic. The prettiest sight of all was at the end of the day, when the fishermen’s white-sailed boats returned home, riding the spill of sunset on the water. They had been joined recently by a number of much larger, unfamiliar ships, and we all wondered at their business. Until this morning, I had enjoyed the anticipation of one day finding out why they were there. Now I knew from my brother that they brought only more soldiers. I was no longer happy to see them.” – p 8 

“I blinked up at him, my feet anchored on the mud-splattered boards of the dock. How could I blindly go up that ramp? I am not a sheep! I wanted to cry, but in truth I had become exactly that.” – p 139

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Glamour in Glass – Mary Robinette Kowal

glamourOn the Cover: Mary Robinette Kowal stunned readers with her charming first novel Shades of Milk and Honey, a loving tribute to the works of Jane Austen in a world where magic is an everyday occurrence. This magic comes in the form of glamour, which allows talented users to form practically any illusion they can imagine. Shades debuted to great acclaim and left readers eagerly awaiting its sequel. Glamour in Glass continues following the lives of beloved main characters Jane and Vincent, with a much deeper vein of drama and intrigue.In the tumultuous months after Napoleon abdicates his throne, Jane and Vincent go to Belgium for their honeymoon. While there, the deposed emperor escapes his exile in Elba, throwing the continent into turmoil. With no easy way back to England, Jane and Vincent’s concerns turn from enjoying their honeymoon…to escaping it. Left with no outward salvation, Jane must persevere over her trying personal circumstances and use her glamour to rescue her husband from prison…and hopefully prevent her newly built marriage from getting stranded on the shoals of another country’s war.

Published: 2012

Other Books in this series:

Shades of Milk and Honey

 


 

The Review:

I was really apprehensive when I picked up Glamour in Glass. I really liked the first novel, and I had fond memories of the glamour present throughout the story. The first book follows the storyline of Jane Austen’s Pride and Prejudice up to the conclusion of Austen’s novel – and as the second novel went beyond the outline of the first, I wasn’t sure what to expect from Glamour in Glass.

I ended up really enjoying where the story took me. Jane and her husband travel abroad to learn more about the glamour craft. It is this dedication to glamour that made me love the story. Jane and Vincent are wonderful in their interactions together and their drive to better understand how to work and manipulate the glamour to create beautiful things. Vincent is a wonderful artist on the page, and Jane is like a scientist, driven by her pursuit to push the craft of glamour beyond all known boundaries. I love these two together and their dedication to their art.

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Perhaps what interested me the most in this story is that the two characters come up against an obstacle that they cannot fight: Jane becomes pregnant. I was incredibly intrigued by this turn of events, as this is not a subject I’m used to reading about in classically set novels. Women were typically hidden away during their pregnancies and it’s certainly not a subject dwelled upon. Yet I absolutely loved its presence in the story. Not only is Jane faced with the difficulties of the time period while pregnant, but she also faced the issues of how pregnancy affects glamour. I’ve never read a book that questions how magic is affected by a pregnancy and I greatly enjoyed the exploration into the subject. Jane has some great character development that comes from her pregnancy and it made me adore her character even more.

There are some really great things that happen in Glamour in Glass in terms of glamour, art, and the scientific study of the ether. While the ending gets away from itself and turns a bit silly, the overall story is very solid. Kowal does a great job at expanding her story beyond the constraints of Pride and Prejudice and making this into her own world that resonates with beauty. This is a series that I’m very much enjoying, and would recommend to anyone who likes historical novels touched with fantasy.

Rating: 4 / 5