I LOVED this story. It is one of Ms. Camden's BEST yet! As I read "Out of the Whirlwind" it was as if it was ME running thru the streets of Chicago during the legendary Big Fire of the 1800's seeking help and direction. Elizabeth Camden describes in such detail the effects of the fire throughout it's progress rampaging the great city of Chicago and the main characters affected. It is a wonderful story of bravery, endurance, passion and faith. As usual she doesn't disappoint in any aspect. This is a book that you won't, no, CANNOT put down!
A young woman oversees a unique watch factory in 1871 Chicago. The obstacles Mollie Knox has faced running the company her father started pale amidst the devastation of the Great Chicago Fire. How can Mollie survive, and what will happen to the Civil War veterans they employ?
Zack Kazmarek, an important attorney employed by Hartman's Department Store, appears to be Mollie's saviorâ€”rescuing her during the fire and supervising the offer to buy her business. But can he be trusted? The wealthy Polish man came from humble origins, which his parents continue to maintain.
The unlikely pair are drawn together, yet another suitor emerges to try to win Mollie's hand. Should she choose the war hero her father's company admires who sweeps in and comes to her aid or the lawyer who sacrifices himself for her without her knowledge? Or should she remain a single businesswoman and keep the watchworks going? Challenges abound, but Mollie manages to work her way through them and grow ever stronger in this exciting historical novel.
Camden's newest offering centers around Mollie Knox, single daughter of a Civil War veteran and owner and proprietor of her father's beloved 57th Illinois Watch Company. Just like the exquisite watches she lovingly assembles Mollie is a woman of delicate parts moving precisely in time and according to expectation. Zach Kazmarek is the exact opposite of Mollie. Raised from humble immigrant beginnings to become one of the city's most prominent attorneys Zach is bold, passionate, and not afraid to get what he wants; working for one of the city's biggest and best department stores he's developed a reputation for just that. For three years Mollie and Zach have met for strictly business purposes, she thinking him cold and unfeeling; he thinking she was the most beautiful creature on earth. After three years neither really knows the other but that is about to change_.
Set against the background of the Great Chicago Fire of 1871 Mollie and Zack are thrown together in a way they never expected. Amidst the chaos of that night and the following weeks Mollie is carried away on a whirlwind of events and emotions that throws her tightly ordered world into a tailspin that she may never recover from_ Conflicted about what she truly wants from life, and from Zack, Mollie struggles to rebuild her company and her life and learns that sometimes the only way to survive the winds of change is to embrace them.
Having fallen in love with Camden's work in the stellar "The Rose of Winslow Street" I have followed with interest her subsequent releases these last few years. Going into this book I had only a little knowledge about the Great Chicago fire and found many of the details she shares truly interesting as she, from the first pages, grabs the readers hand and pulls them along into the fire. In many places it really felt like you were there with Mollie, Zach, and little Sophie, whom they pick up during their flight from the city. I don't know why, but in the past when I think of the Fire I think of the great destruction that accompanied it- but I've never considered what that meant personally, logistically, and financially to the people affected. Through Mollie and Zach's eyes you really get a picture of how the city was rebuilt and changes made and it brings to the reader a personal connection to an event from long ago.
Over all my feelings on this particular Elizabeth Camden novel are mixed. There are things I really liked about the book like the time period, the neat way the historical info was presented, and the character of Zach who has a strong presence throughout. But there are things that I felt left something to be desired. I would have loved to dig a bit more into Mollie for example, though she is the main character and the story is told mainly from her perspective there were times that I felt disconnected from her- like she wasn't telling the whole truth with a particular thought or action. There were times that I questioned her sincerity in what she thought or did with her relationships with Colonel Lowe vs. Zach and how she treated both of them. In both cases it seemed that the relationship was more about her then about two parties and equal ground. At the end I got annoyed because when she's ready for what she wants she goes all angsty over whether or not she can get it, and get it when she wants it and I don't find that attractive in any heroine.
Having said that however, I realize that the issues that I have with Mollie's character are not a deal breaker for this book. Despite her being more indecisive than I would have liked for a woman with the futures of others in her hands I couldn't really dislike her either. Mollie finds her security in her routine and in knowing what to expect from herself and others- and I can't say that I have never been that way myself. What Mollie learns however is that with the right people by your side the storms of life are nothing to fear.
Final Rating: 3.5 stars
I received a copy of this book from the publisher in exchange for an honest review and opinion of the product.
Mollie Knox, owner of the 57th Illinois Watch Company, employs veterans who served with her father in the 57th Illinois Infantry during the Civil War. These veterans are talented artisans who craft high-end watches, but to Mollie, they are family. Mollie's contract with Hartman's, a fine department store, affords her a measure of financial security until Zack Kazmarek, Hartman's handsome, yet intimidating attorney, issues an ultimatum that Mollie must sell her business to Hartman or lose her contract. Unexpectedly, the Great Chicago Fire ravages the city, destroying tangible property and intangible dreams. When famed Colonel Lowe, leader of the 57th Illinois Infantry, helps Mollies rebuild, Mollie is torn between the kind, stable Colonel Lowe and the passionate, unstable Zack Kazmarek.
Into the Whirlwind by Elizabeth Camden is a stand-alone novel set in nineteenth-century Chicago. Admittedly, I don't know many details regarding the terrible tragedy of the Great Chicago Fire and Chicago's period of rebuilding; however, Camden's depictions seemed authentic and realistic. Into the Whirlwind has a solid plot that quickly hooked my attention and carried it through to the end of the novel. I found it refreshing that the romance elements of the story kept me guessing who Mollie was going to end up with. I recommend this book to lovers of historical romances.
Disclosure of Material Connection: I received this book free from the publisher. 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: "Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising."