This was another one of those books that I tried so very hard to like, but it was oh-so-difficult. I think that the author had a great idea to base a series of books on midwives, but this first book just fell flat. There was so little information about midwives and their roles in society that I was left wanting by the book's end. This may have had something to do with so few women in the book that were pregnant (only 3 deliveries of babies and one litter of puppies in a 400 page novel).
Another thing that kept me from really enjoying the book was all the filler. One chapter left me on a climax, then the next chapter switched to a different scene entirely, and it usually was one that had no excitement at all. By the time I got back around to the resolution of the cliffhanger from 2 chapters before, my anticipation to know what happened had vanished. This is something that I've noticed with authors that typically write short novels (Heartsong or Love Inspired), who then switch to writing a full-length novel. The plot of the story may be good, but the delivery gets choked up by all the filler to make it a longer book. (At this point, I have not read any of Ms. Eakes' other novels, but I know she has some shorter novels that have been released, and that's why I am drawing this conclusion.)
I am still interested to read the next book in this series, and I hope that there will be more of a midwife feel to it as opposed to another historical Regency. Ms. Eakes' has a great deal of talent with her writing; I just hope that it will be more focused in her next full-length book.
What a treat for the romantic soul. The vibrant characters leapt off the page and into my heart. The heroine strong yet feminine, the hero dashing and witty. The rich mysterious setting became a character of its own. More than anything, though, I appreciated the depth of passion between the hero and heroine. Too often in Christian romance novels I see nothing that reflects the actual human experience of falling in love. And the author portrayed these emotions with such skill and innocence. The brush of a finger. The heat of a glance. That sense that the world ceases to exist when their beloved walks away. This, I recognize as love.
I'll admit that early on I struggled with some of the motivations. But don't give up on this book. It's well worth your time, and I suspect you will fall in love with it as I did. This is a novel that will please both genre romance readers and those who prefer deeper themes and an artistic touch.
Lady in the Mist by Laurie Alice Eakes is the first book in the Midwives series. Tabitha works as the midwife in her coastal Virginia community in the early years of the nineteenth century. She inhabits a gray zone there, where because of her unmarried state she doesn't fit in with the other families, but she's not quite a servant either. After the deaths of her father, mother, and finally grandmother that left her alone, she's turned her back on God for his apparent abandonment and throws herself into her work. But that work is endangered when the husband of one of her patients dies along with her unborn child mysteriously and he lays the blame at her feet. Her former fiance, Raleigh Trower, has returned from the sea where he fled to get out of their engagement and is now determined to win back her heart, but redemptioner Dominick Cherrett keeps getting in the way. Tabitha and Dominick are thrown together again and again as each tries to spy on the other in the hopes of discovering who is behind the disappearance of so many men from their small town. Eakes has written a powerful romance with plenty of intrigue. Tabitha, Dominick, and Raleigh each suffer under the impression that we must earn God's love, and when we sin, we need to earn it back. The villain is fairly obvious from early on, but Eakes does a good job of throwing out some red herrings and keeping the suspense high. Sometimes she does so, however, by leaving the reader at a moment of high tension and then skipping ahead several hours or days without giving readers the payoff of following the characters through their struggles. This is still a terrifically entertaining historical romance with twists and turns and a healthy dose of faith. I look forward to the next book in the series.
There was a lot to enjoy about this book and a few things that dragged on for me. I think a hundred pages less would have made it a tighter story, but the writing itself was very good. I liked the historical aspects of the novel. The author clearly knows American history and it really shines in this book. I enjoyed getting to know the characters and also enjoyed the mystery portion of the story.
The romantic tension was nice, though the back and forth between the two men seemed to go on a bit too long in my opinion. It seemed like the story was more about the potential for war between England and America than about midwifery itself. But the setting was well done so I felt fully planted in that time period. I did marvel at how often Dominick was just roaming around considering he was a servant.
The tension regarding the hero being British and the townspeople's angst about England was pretty engaging, too. A few times I wasn't sure what was going to happen. The spiritual thread was strong in this story. Some good points were made in regards to faith. Overall Lady in the Mist was an enjoyable read.
This is among the best books I have read this year. I will be pretty shocked if it does not receive some type of award.
Bibliotherapy point: Tabitha is dealing with deep abandonment and loss issues. This has affected her spirit and her relationship with God. Dominick doesn't even seem to realize how his father's atrocious behavior was also abandonment, which is consistent with how men often handle this issue, i.e., through denial and repression.
Disability related: Lady in the Mist is available in large print, as a e-book with audio feature, as well as hardcover and softcover editions. Would love to hear this makes it to a recorded book later.