Monday, January 28, 2013

Hometown Cinderella by Ruth Axtell Morren, ©2012

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By page 33, before finishing Chapter 2, I was ready for Mara to shake off those mourning clothes and marry her neighbor! What a delightful daughter he has. So sweet and earnest. Then having to go home to crabby Mrs. Blackstone. Ugh. Mara Keller's father and husband have passed away and she has been given half ownership in her father's home. Only... it includes his widow who is far from congenial.

Mara Keller has a young son who is eager to be doted on by Mr. Jakeman. Oh, I haven't introduced everyone to you. It is autumn of 1884, in the countryside of Eagle's Bay, Maine, a small coastal community. Mara meets the neighbors on her first Sunday at church, Gideon Jakeman and his fourteen year old daughter, Lizzie. Lizzie's mother died when she was young and she and her father farm near Mrs. Blackstone and Mara's property. Mara's little son, Dietrich, is six. He was sitting between Gideon and Mara and was a little more wiggly than Mrs. Blackstone liked. Gideon makes a paper bird for him and after church tells Mara that Dietrich is welcome to his farm anytime to spread his legs and energy. Upon returning home, Mrs. Blackstone reminds Mara that she is newly widowed and doesn't need gossip to upset her (Mrs. B's) life!

On Monday, walking back from town after looking for employment, Mara is met by the Jakemans returning from town and they invite her to ride with them in their wagon. Mrs. Blackstone is not agreeable to Mara taking her buggy without taking Mrs. Blackstone as well. To his befuddlement, Mara asks to be dropped off before arriving at her home. Socially acceptable behavior ~ for Mrs. Blackstone's prying, that would be!

So here we are, not yet out of Chapter 2, and I am wanting her life to change immediately! This is the first story I have read by Ruth Axtell and it is like being right there with them. So well written and clear. I am anxious to get back to the story to discover their journey! I hope it doesn't take too long to find each other. I want to meld these two families together. So much to give each other in hope, acceptance, and love.

Seasons change as they go from cider pressing, putting up cranberries, to surviving winter storms. This is a beautiful story. I have missed author Leisha Kelly who passed away two years ago in January. Her last published work was The House on Malcolm Street. Reading Hometown Cinderella reminded me of her writings. So genuine as families grow together, parent with child, and those near them. I would love to read a sequel to Hometown Cinderella as their lives continue to unfold. As I mentioned, I really liked Lizzie Jakeman, Gideon's daughter. He has loved her well. His concern for others gives life.

Also, so apparent is criticism. Are we aware of our words? Crushing, or uplifting? Mrs. Blackstone is drowning in her bitterness. Thankfully, Mara Keller looks to the Lord for direction for herself and her son.

I give this story a five-plus rating! Highly recommend.


BACK COVER

Love Inspired Historical, Hometown Cinderella
Small Town, Big Dreams
After years traveling in Europe with her musician husband, all that widow Mara Keller wants is security for her son. A half-share in her father’s Maine farmhouse is the only refuge she has left, even if her resentful stepmother treats Mara as little more than a servant. But there is one bright spot: the unexpected kindness of neighbor Gideon Jakeman.
A widowed farmer with a teenage daughter, Gideon hardly pictures himself as anyone’s Prince Charming. Especially a woman of Mara’s refinement. Yet his quiet, rugged strength makes her feel as though she’s found her rightful place by his side, if they can find faith enough to forge their own happy ending.

EXCERPT


Excerpt. © Reprinted by permission. All rights reserved.
Before Carina could reprimand him for scuffing it, Dietrich suddenly leaned forward, reaching for his mug of milk. Mr. Jakeman rose a fraction from his seat, as if to grab the boy’s plate from his knee. Instead, his own cup fell from its saucer and hit the edge of the table.
Mara watched in horror, extending a hand as if she could stop the fall, but instead, hearing the shatter of porcelain.
She rose and rushed to the sofa, seeing the puddle of tea against the floorboards and three large pieces of porcelain scattered about.
Not hearing the sounds of voices around her—“I’m sorry,” “Mama, Mr. Jakeman broke your cup—”, “I’ll get a rag—” Mara knelt down, crowded between Dietrich’s legs and the edge of the table. She picked up the largest piece of broken cup. It was true what Lizzie had said, it was like an eggshell.
The next moment, she felt the table being moved away from the sofa and Mr. Jakeman crouched down opposite her. “I’m awfully sorry, ma’am.”
Before she could think what to say, Carina stood behind him, craning to see what had broken. She broke out into a cackle. “One of the crown jewels! Serves you right!” She addressed Mr. Jakeman, “She was so proud of that set, carting it around everywhere, packing it up so carefully.” She sniffed. “Pride goeth before a fall!”
“Carina!” She shot her stepmother a look of mortification.
“That’s a shame,” Mr. Jakeman said softly. “I was clumsy.”
“Please think nothing of it. It wasn’t your fault.” She focused on the pieces on the floor. Mr. Jakeman’s large hands began to pick up the remaining pieces, making more evident how fragile they were.
“That’s all right, I can do that.”
“It didn’t break in too many pieces. Maybe you can glue it back together.”
She met his sorrow-filled eyes, not having the heart to disagree. Instead she smiled, trying to put a good face on things. “Yes. I can do that and use it as an ornament on my shelf.”
He nodded. “That’s a good idea.” He looked so hopeful her irritation and disappointment melted.

ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Ruth has loved regencies ever since she read Pride and Prejudice and discovered Georgette Heyer in her high school years. Everything from the wit of the dialogue, the formality of the courtship and the variety of hero types draws her to this genre of romance. She will have a single title regency out in March 2013 for Baker/Revell Books and an Americana historical for Moody Publishers. Her books have been translated into Dutch, Italian, Polish, Czech and Afrikaans. She was a Golden Heart finalist in 1994. Her second published book, Wild Rose, was a Booklist “Top Ten Christian Fiction” selection in 2005. She is a member of ACFW (American Christian Fiction Writers), RWA (Romance Writers of America), HisWriters and Maine RWA. Ruth studied comparative literature at Smith College with a concentration in French and English literature, and spent her junior year in Paris. Since then she has lived in the Netherlands and the Canary Islands. Shortly after college, she committed her life to Christ. Fourteen years later, she committed her writing to Him. Currently, Ruth lives on the down east coast of Maine with her three children and two cats. She enjoys the challenge of vegetable and flower gardening in a cool, foggy climate, long walks, reading, watching British period dramas like Downton Abbey, and doing historical research for her novels.Find out more about Ruth at her website ruthaxtell[dot]com.


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Thank you to author Ruth Axtell for sending me a copy of her book, Hometown Cinderella, to read and review in my own words. I am delighted to be introduced to this fine author! I think I would have titled this book, "A Way of the Heart," because of the beautiful way their pure hearts are discovered. Such joy and happiness await them. Their children will be fine friends as their story emerges.

slide-2 Coming March 2013!

Lady Celine Wexham seems the model British subject. French by birth but enjoying life in 1813 as a widowed English countess, she is in the unique position of being able to help those in need–or to spy for the notorious Napoleon Bonaparte. When Rees Phillips of the British Foreign Office is sent to pose as the countess’s butler and discover where her true loyalties lie, he is confident he will uncover the truth. But the longer he is in her fashionable townhouse in London’s West End, the more his staunch loyalty to the Crown begins to waver as he falls under Lady Wexham’s spell. Will he find the proof he needs? And if she is a spy after all, will he do the right thing?

2 comments:

  1. Thanks, Kathleen, for your great description of this story. You captured it perfectly! And the excerpt is one of my favorites. I had already envisioned that scene long before I knew the rest of the story. It's almost as if I wrote the rest of the story AROUND that scene.
    Love your quilt motif!

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