DiAnn Mills' "Awaken My Heart" is a story of love between enemies in the territory of early 1800s Texas. Marianne Phillips is a white woman whose father thinks of her as nothing but an opportunity to gain wealth when he marries her off to a rich older man. Armando is the leader of a group of Mexicans who refuse to leave their homes even though their land is a conquest of Mr. Phillips' to graze his cattle. Armando and Marianne meet initially by chance, then have an opportunity to get to know each other's hearts when Marianne is kidnapped by one of Armando's men. Although this is not my favorite DiAnn Mills work, it is an enjoyable read. The best part of the book is where Marianne, a Protestant, shares with Armando, a Catholic, that he does not need a priest to have a relationship with God. Armando's initiation of that relationship brought a tear to my eye.
I have to admit that this is my first experience with DiAnn Mills and I have to say that I like her. "Awaken My Heart" was thrilling to read. Just the right pinches of rebellion and devotion to God... Real emotions and the struggle to understand them make this book and it's story true to life.An early 19th century Texas Colony Zorro meets Romeo meets Shakespeare in Love.The heroine Marianne is a much better person than I, but she gives me an example of a woman's life that I should strive to be as strong as she. This book does have the desired kidnapping, fall in love, find peace with Christ, someone dies, and an almost happier ever after ending just as most good Christian Inspirational Fiction novels do, but it is even better because it is real and not overly flowery as some. Other plus points to this book are the little inputs of the Spanish language that I knew just enough of to really be able to enthrall myself into the atmosphere of the narrative. I could smell the earth and roses she described as well as hear the speech and playful banter of the characters throughout. As well as the main struggle with "culture, religion, and social demands [to] embrace the love that comes only from the great Creator."I would definitely read this author again.
I've read many books written by Diann Mills, and this story is my favorite. It's definitely the most romantic book, in my opinion, that she has ever penned. Life in 1800s Texas was portrayed in such a way that I got a strong sense of the culture during those hard times. Marianne had some difficult choices to make and she had to choose wisely. Several gritty and edgy topics arose in this adventurous tale and I applaud the author for her excellent portrayal of the destructiveness of domestic violence, alcoholism, and greed. Her clear portrayal of true faith is also to be commended. The author contrasted traditional religion with a relationship the believer has with the Living God, and the hope and true peace such faith produces.Armando was the ultimate hero. He was strong, yet compassionate, dedicated, yet torn because of his past. The author's description of him made me think of Antonio Banderas. Zorro here I come! Ah, what a tale of love! It was so passionate and felt so real it swept me off my feet. I loved every yummy kiss and the emotion I experienced as the hero and heroine dealt with all of the things separating them, along with all of the things drawing them together. Fabulous romance. Great historical fiction. This story gets my highest rating. It's a real page turner! The Avon Inspire line has some of the best, most inspirational and romantic historical fiction I've read to date!