A treat for fans of historical romance and of Christian women's fiction, Blowing on Dandelions makes a great start for Miralee Ferrell's Love Blossoms in Oregon series.
I'm getting a late start on reading the Love Blossoms in Oregon series, having only just now finished reading the first book, a year after its publication. But with Book 2 (Wishing on Buttercups) released this past February, a complementary novella (Forget Me Not) released in March, and Book 3 (Dreaming on Daisies) coming in October, this seemed as good a time as any to start reading the series. I'm glad that I did because Blowing on Dandelions made for a very enjoyable read, and I look forward to the chance to learn more about some familiar characters in other books in this series.
The author does a great job balancing the need to stay true to the time period (1880s Oregon) with telling a tale that appeals to present day readers. We get interesting historical details in a way that doesn't take us out of the story. In fact, the story feels almost timeless, perhaps because of its focus on relationships and the emotions, both good and bad, accompanying them.
Besides fulfilling the expectations of a good romance (lots of obstacles, both internal and external, on the way to a satisfying happily ever after ending) this book also delves deeply into relationships beyond that between the hero and heroine. And it does so from LOTS of different viewpoints, for a multi-faceted look at those relationships. Viewpoint characters include not just Katherine Galloway (heroine) and Micah Jacobs (hero), but also the heroine's mother, daughter, and some of the boarding house guests. While using more than a few viewpoints can risk putting distance between a reader and a story, I think in this case it adds depth to the story, sheds light on some significant misunderstandings between characters, and allows some of the less sympathetic characters to be viewed with more understanding.
Relationships dealt with in this book include those between a mother and daughter (Katherine and her domineering mother, as well as Katherine and her young daughters), between friends (relationships within Katherine's quilting group, as well as between her mother and another strong-willed woman determined to befriend her), and _ oh yeah _ between a man and a woman who are each dealing with the deaths of their respective spouses and falling in love again.
It's a complex tapestry of relationships, this author weaves, and she does a beautiful job of it. With her experience as an accredited counselor and minister to women it's no wonder she's able to show both helpful and challenging relationships in such a believable and realistic light. As I read and got to know the characters and their relationships better, I was drawn more and more into the story, and was pleased by the changes that took place as time went on.
Recommended reading for fans of historical romance and women's fiction, but particularly for anyone who might be dealing with difficult family relationships, because this book takes a very hopeful look at just that kind of relationship.
Thank you to the publisher, David C Cook, for providing me with an electronic copy through NetGalley for review purposes. Opinions expressed are my own.
Readers can learn more about author Miralee Ferrell on her Web site, and can connect with her on Facebook and Twitter.
I really appreciate the "realness" of the characters created by Miralee Ferrell as they work their way through every day life facing heartache and loss, hope and despair, frustration and anger, forgiveness and healing; circumstances that bring moments of joy and celebration; events that challenge and may even cause them to doubt their faith and doubt God.
I so enjoyed reading this book and grew to love and appreciate each character, even the hateful, stubborn, and gregarious ones! I readily identified with Katherine as she struggles with confidence, whether or not she is making the right choices, her ability to exemplify honor and respect when dealing with her mother's critical attitude, and her desire to make sure her own children know they are loved.
Though "Blowing on Dandelions" is a work of fiction, the author has a unique style and ability to weave honest unspoken thoughts, emotions, concerns, and second-guessing of one's self and choices amid the dialogue and gritty details of life as it is experienced by Katherine, Micah, Frances, Seth, and the other characters. In doing so, she gives readers a much deeper look into the real and vulnerable people behind the self-made facades. With this revealing also comes the truth that, we too, may have or may have had similar fears, doubts, concerns or worries, but are or were too fearful or ashamed to admit them to anyone.
Or perhaps there was no one person trustworthy enough to turn to. As Frances experienced, through the example of a most unlikely boarder, kindness can break down barriers, honesty and truth can set you free from the burden of fear and self-protection, and relationships can be restored.
Like the many seeds of the puffy dandelion, this story is filled with examples of the seeds of God's love, trust, wisdom, grace, truth, and forgiveness that, when "blown" into the lives of others in a loving way, can take root and grow, bringing new life, joy, and healing to wounded souls and hurting hearts.
I enjoyed this first book I've read by Miralee Ferrell. She explores a challenging relationship between a mother and daughter in the 1800's West. Another theme is how two single parents meet each other , live in her boarding house and develop a relationship amidst her interfering mother, two children who become fast friends, and an accident involving the man and a close call for one of the lady's daughters. The characters are intriguing and drew me into the story. Can't wait to read the sequel.
"Katherine's soft exhale sent the dandelion fluff dancing on the current of air, but it didn't bring the anticipated relief.
. . . Seeds-that's all they were. Seeds that brought unwanted weeds when they matured. Just like her life.
Unwanted. Unwelcome. Unsung.
At least by the one person who mattered the most while she was growing up.
. . . It was time to put the past behind her. . .and somehow Katherine had to survive."
Katherine Galloway is working hard to care for her two daughters and a boarding house after her husband's death, when life goes from tough to hopelessly unbearable for the single Mom in 1860's Oregon.
The very last thing Katherine needs or wants is a visit from her overbearing, authoritarian mother but not only does her mother visit-she decides to move in. Katherine has felt she never lived up to her mother's expectations and the constant nitpicking seems to just further drive the point home.
Micah Jacobs, a widower, recently moved to Baker City, Oregon. He started a livery business in hopes of getting his teenage son, Zachary, away from books and into a trade. After all, at 15, Zachary should know books were not the answer; besides, their family had a history of working with their hands not their minds.
Both main characters have to deal with seemingly insurmountable odds but face similar situations in very different ways; one turning to God for hope and consolation, the other turning from God with animosity and resentment.
Miralee Ferrell does a masterful job of showing life from both sides of the coin as daughter and mother struggle to understand each other, father and son pursue different paths in life and boarders come to the realization of God's love. She skillfully weaves an emotional story with romance in Blowing on Dandelions, book one in the Love Blossoms in Oregon series.
"Dandelions" is an enlightening and encouraging book for anyone who has struggled with an overbearing person(s) in their lives.
The author includes a chat, discussion questions and historical notes at the end of the book. She also includes a first chapter teaser of the series second book, Wishing on Buttercups.
A copy of this book was provided by bookfun.org in exchange for my honest review. The opinions are my own and no compensation was given.
Blowing on Dandelions, set in Baker City, Oregon in 1880, is the first book in Miralee Ferrell's Love Blossoms in Oregon series. Like other books I've read of Miralee's, this story deals with life/family issues - namely, long-running conflict between a mother and daughter. Both narrative and plot are strong, and we are introduced to some very interesting characters.
Katherine is a character I sympathized with and admired from the beginning - a daughter who felt unwanted, unable to measure up to her domineering mother's expectations. "Always her memory returned to those times when the dandelion fluff had carried her away to a place where mothers were loving and kind, and little girls didn't need to be afraid of cutting words or sharp voices." The quiet, rugged strength of Micah Jacobs is exactly what Katherine needs, and while the mother/daughter conflict takes center stage, their romance is sweet and enjoyable.
Miralee very effectively uses the vehicle of a boardinghouse to place an unusual assortment of characters in close vicinity, and even more conflict is introduced with the arrival of guest Wilma Roberts, who I grew to love. Wilma is an imposing and proud woman, yet she senses that Katherine's mother is lonely and determines to become her friend. And then there's the mysterious Jeffery Tucker, who I suspect we will see much more of.
Katherine's mother, Frances, is an extremely abrasive character who made me even more thankful than I already am for the wonderful mother I was blessed with. Anyone who has experienced family conflict can relate to this story and be inspired by the hope that it offers. I like the slow, but steady spiritual growth that several characters experience.
One of the best things about a series is getting to continue on with certain characters, and I look forward to what Miralee has in store for us in Wishing on Buttercups, which releases on February 1, 2014. Recommended to those who enjoy historical romance and relationship drama.