Tuesday, April 12, 2011

Review: Surrender the Heart by MaryLu Tyndall

Relive the rich history of the War of 1812 through the eyes of Marianne Denton and Noah Brenin, who both long to please their families but neither one wishes to marry the other. Noah is determined to get his cargo to England before war breaks out, and Marianne is equally determined to have a wedding so that her inheritance can be unlocked and her destitute family saved. When their stubborn games get them captured by a British warship, can they escape and bring liberty to their country--and growing love? (summary from marylutyndall.com)

This probably wasn't the best book to read while touring France, since I found myself eagerly wanting to get back to the hotel so I could read more of Marianne and Noah's story. It's that good!

I loved the character of Marianne and found myself relating to so many of her struggles and insecurities. She thinks of herself as no great beauty, and after experiencing personal tragedy and hardship has resigned herself to expecting nothing more than an ordinary life. When circumstances land her on her reluctant fiance's merchant ship sailing to England, she has to face her past and the issues that have haunted her. There were a few times where I was frustrated by her lack of trust, but that really showed the power anxiety can have over us. When she finally trusts God enough to face her fears and fulfill her destiny it is a really nice moment.

Though Noah starts out as a somewhat unlikeable character (at least in terms of his treatment of Marianne) he becomes an admirable hero. He is burdened by guilt over his brother's death and his family's expectations but possesses a strength of character and a willingness to stand up for what is right. I loved that Noah slowly comes to admire Marianne's courage and kindness and realizes just how beautiful she really is. I'm always a sucker for the "dislike turning into attraction" storyline (aka Elizabeth Bennett and Mr. Darcy), and Surrender the Heart delivered that in spades.

In terms of the historical backdrop, I really enjoyed Tyndall setting the book in the months leading up to the War of 1812. That war often seems like just a blip on the history of the U.S., but she shows how critical a victory was to our very young nation and how unmatched we seemed to be against the British. It made me want to read more about the contest and America during that time.

A few minor issues with the story... for the most part, I thought that the character's journeys toward faith were realistic and heartfelt, but there were a few instances where everything seemed to fall into place too quickly. It was like one minute a character was burdened by guilt and the next they were suddenly free. I know that God is capable of radically changing people's hearts, but it seemed a little fast. Also, I hated how Noah occasionally referred to Marianne as "princess." Maybe it's just a weird quirk of mine but I squirmed every time he called her by that name (which luckily was only three or four instances in the book.)
Rating: 4.5 out of 5 stars. This book kept me totally riveted with its mix of romance and adventure set against the first months of the War of 1812. The characters were likable and relatable and I was caught up in their love story.

Details: published by Barbour, August 2010. Book 1 in the Surrender to Destiny series.
Source: personal copy

Monday, April 11, 2011

J'Adore France...

Sorry for the nearly month-long hiatus... between getting ready for my trip to France and traveling I haven't had much time for blogging. However, I was able to get a fair amount of reading done on my vacation so reviews will be coming soon. Below are a few of my favorite pictures from my trip to France!

Rodin's "The Thinker" with the Invalides in the  background

Petit Trianon at Versailles