I love historical fiction that succeeds at weaving real people, real events, and real places into an intriguing narrative. "All Things Hidden" was a good effort, though the story fell short of that elusive quality that makes an excellent novel. What I did like about this book was the setting and background. The history of the colonization of the Matanuska Valley in Alaska is fascinating and the authors very ably described the courageous, pioneering spirit of those who settled what are now the towns of Palmer and Wasilla, Alaska. I thought authors Tracie Peterson and Kimberley Woodhouse did a great job conveying the history (i.e., the accomplishments and the flaws) of the Matanuska colonization, which was part of FDR's New Deal- the federal effort aimed at America's recovery from the Great Depression. They were able to communicate the importance of one's attitude in facing hardships and challenges, and the difference that a positive or negative outlook can make. They also brought out some great spiritual insights (the importance of prayer, trusting God, and forgiveness) in a very natural way.
The twist in this story is the villain, Clarence; a successful, and therefore rich, thief who for some reason ends up hiding in poverty in the highly publicized and photographed Matanuska Project rather than in the anonymity of his wealth in Europe or the South Pacific. For also obscure reasons, he becomes obsessed with Gwyn. The element of suspense and intrigue that Clarence and his wicked schemes lend to the book was a good idea and definitely added to the plot, but the reason for his obsession with Gwyn and his propensity to engage in evil at all times only contributed to the feeling that the characters in this novel were overly contrived and served to make the plot too predictable.
I enjoyed this book because I'm easy-to-please and I love history wrapped up in fiction, but I can't put "All Things Hidden" on my list of all time favorites.
I received a complimentary copy of this book for review from Bethany House Publishers. I was not required to write a positive review. The opinions I have expressed are my own. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission's 16 CFR, Part 255.
A story that promised much with it's beautiful cover art and intriguing setting, I couldn't wait to bury myself in it.
When 200 new colonists are sent to 1930s Alaska, to face a new life in a vastly different landscape and remote settlement. Gwyn along with her father Harold Hillerman have loved in the Alaskan town for many years together after his wife left with Gwyn's younger sister to return to Chicago, unable to endure the remote and primitive conditions. Gwyn is not a fan of change and has lived and worked alongside her beloved father for as long as she can remember. The news that their peaceful town is about to be inundated with new and desperate folks is not news she relishes.
When Jeremiah gets that chance to escape Chicago and head to the Alaskan town to join Dr Hillerman, he thinks he can keep the sordid scandal a secret but for how long . . .
Add to this an intriguing tale of bank robbery and a villainous character also heading for the same Alaskan town and you have a thrilling combination of gentle love story and surprisingly suspenseful tale. I also loved the historical detail, which is well explained at the end of the book, revealing what was fiction and what was directly sourced from facts.
With many twists and turns, this will keep the lover of historical tales very happy. Unique setting and well rounded characters will make the pages literally fly by. Lets hope this is not the only tale told in this fascinating setting and time period. It's literally crying out for a sequel if not an entire series.
Book description: "Gwyn Hillerman loves being a nurse at her father's clinic on the beautiful Alaskan frontier. But family life has been rough ever since her mother left them, disdaining the uncivilized country and taking Gwyn's younger sister with her.
In Chicago, Dr. Jeremiah Vaughan finds his life suddenly turned upside down when his medical license is stripped away after an affluent patient dies. In a snowball effect, his fiance breaks their engagement. In an attempt to bury the past, Jeremiah accepts Dr. Hillerman's invitation to join his growing practice in the isolated Alaska Territory.
Gwyn and Jeremiah soon recognize a growing attraction to each other. But when rumors of Jeremiah's past begin to surface, they'll need more than love to face the threat of an uncertain future."
My review: Not only is this a great story, it has wonderful spiritual truths embedded throughout the book. A lot of Christian novels do not have many Scripture or Biblical lessons incorporated into the story. This novel is not one of those. I was encouraged by the verses and challenged to examine my own life and responses to the circumstances in which God has placed me. This is a book that I could share with an unbeliever and know that not only would they be reading a great story that will hold their interest, but the seeds of God's Word will be planted into their hearts. I enjoyed each of the characters and was immediately drawn into each of their lives. The characters were real and the historical facts that played into the book made the story that much more interesting. I hope the authors plan to make this a series. I received a complimentary e-copy of this book from Bethany House Publishers in exchange for an honest review. All opinions are my own.
I usually steer clear of books that are romance, but I love Kim's books, and read some of Tracie's books years ago, so I braved it and requested it to review. I didn't figure I would be disappointed, and I wasn't.
This book is actually more historical fiction with a romantic plot, and even some suspense thrown in to make readers like me like it even more. It is set in 1935 in Alaska. The book starts with the decision by Franklin D Roosevelt to send several families to Alaska to start a settlement in the Mat-Su Valley. The book is filled with not just fictional characters, but actual nonfictional people who were there.
I really liked the plot. To be honest, I sometimes have trouble reading historical fiction, but I started the book at work (I am allowed to read where I worked today) and finished it when I got home. I loved it. The romance was well done and wasn't gushy sickening sweet nor unrealistic. The historical part was very interesting, and not something I had read about before. The hero and heroine were both very likeable and realistic people. I identified a lot with Jeremiah, the main male figure, with his issues with God, and even hiding things from people.
I like it when authors aren't afraid to put God and Christian issues in a book, and this one falls into that category. The issue of worry and trusting God was discussed a lot, along with the already mentioned issues Jeremiah had with God, and blaming Him for the bad in his life, something I have done.
This book has it all: an interesting historical story, romance, suspense with a bad guy, and a great message of how we need to trust God in everything. That it can be a good thing to not have control, if God has control.
This is the first collaboration between these two authors, and it is a great one. I highly recommend it. If you like romance, you'll enjoy it. If you like suspense, there is enough in it that you'll like it. If you like historical fiction, it is right up your alley. Great job, ladies.