The Disclaimer: Throughout the past year, I have been given many opportunities to read many ARCs (Advanced Reader Copies), review copies and giveaway books of varying qualities. However, this was one of the first books I got to read as a critique partner. When we were first paired and set to exchange chapters in December, I wasn’t sure if I was going to enjoy this story. I don’t usually read historical romances. In my mind, historical romances were all set in Victorian England among petticoats and women being introduced into society during the Season. I like my romance a bit more real. So I stayed away from the genre. When Christina sent me what would become this book, she had to redeem a whole genre in my eyes, not an easy task to fulfill. Plus, I’m a nit-picky critique partner who sometimes forgets to mention the good in favor of pointing out mistakes. 😉
The Set Up: In Hollow, Montana in 1883, Hetty Grace’s world is turned upside down when Alma Calhoun, the woman she is a companion for, leaves for Philadelphia to be with her ailing sister. She secures a job working for the Wheeler family on a nearby farm. Isaac Wheeler is a furniture maker and a bachelor living with his mother, widowed brother Elias, and Elias’ daughter, Lottie. Both consider themselves unworthy of love–Hetty because she is an orphan and Isaac because of mistakes in his past. But with divine intervention, family meddling, and a lot of faith, these two can overcome every obstacle separating them from the love they crave.
The short of it: Read this book! I loved Hetty and Isaac together. This has all the important ingredients in a romance: characters you want to root for, believable impediments to them being together,unique ways of putting them together, a sweet reveal of their feelings for each other, and I didn’t feel like I missed out on the best parts of their journey. The faith element was strong throughout without feeling overdone or overemphasized. And I’m not just saying that because Christina is my critique buddy; this girl can WRITE!
The long version: This book made me rethink my aversion to historical romances. There wasn’t a petticoat to be found! The writing didn’t feel dated but flowed off the page. The romance was the central focus of the story, not the setting, and Christina’s writing allowed me to get lost in Hetty and Isaac, not the lack of central heating or air conditioning. She captured the time period beautifully while crafting a story that is timeless.
I loved the interaction between Hetty and Isaac and Isaac’s family. The secondary issues and themes that they brought to the story fleshed out the conflict and added texture to the story. The relationships that Hetty built with Isaac’s family both pulled them together and caused her to step back. It was an interesting dynamic to watch unfold on the page. The conflicting feelings that exist between Isaac and his brother Elias were another great aspect of the story. The fact that most of the tension and guilt is all one-sided makes it even more compelling.
I won’t spoil all of the surprises by mentioning all of the other characters that you will meet, but just know that the town of Hollow, Montana is full of interesting characters that you will love just as much as the Wheeler family. I thought that the minor characters in Reverie were used to good advantage, but were also more than plot devices. Each character felt fully fleshed out.
Reverie is a character driven romance that pulls you in and keeps you interested until the very last page. I was so thrilled to see Hetty and Isaac again in the follow up to Reverie, Reliance, which will be released October 7th. I hope you will fall in love with Hetty and Isaac as much as I did, and that you also be waiting with bated breath for the next story.