Be Still My Soul: Cadence of Graces Series #1 --e book
A powerful story, not just a fluffy romance
Joanne Bischof's Cadence of Grace trilogy is the three-part story of Gideon O'Reilly and his wife Lonnie in the early 20th century Blue Ridge Mountains of Virginia. In part one, Be Still My Soul, Lonnie has been looking forward to the day she turns eighteen and may flee her abusive father's house. However, before that day comes, she ends up trapped in a shotgun marriage with Gideon. While it releases her from her father's thumb, she is no more free than before - just owned by another man. Gideon is none to pleased to be saddled with a wife, especially since he gets stuck dragging her with him to look for work far from Rocky Knob. Will he turn to God and learn to appreciate the woman he married? Or will his destructive behavior ruin their marriage and possibly destroy them both?
Gideon was very easy to dislike at first, but I was able to pity him too; if anything, his family is poorer than Lonnie's, and he is just another neglected mouth to feed. He is an alcoholic, which makes such temptations extremely difficult for him to endure, and though of marriageable age, he is not mature enough for a family of his own. I thoroughly approve of Jebediah's methods of character reform, at which time I finally started to gain some respect for Gideon. He grows slowly but believably - there is no overnight change in him, but rather a realistically gradual softening.
Lonnie has not had an easy life - neither before nor after her marriage. Between the abuse and neglect, she has felt very little love in her life. While she never loses her faith in God, always remembering that his eye is on the sparrow, she understandably struggles. While I have never been in a situation like that, I could still relate with her in other ways. Although she is sweet and God-honoring, she is not perfect - she loses her temper on occasion and makes poor choices with painful consequences - just like anyone. Her relationship with her husband reminded me of that between Millie and Adam Pontipee in the musical Seven Brides for Seven Brothers.
Bischof has a well-paced story - it does not ever feel like it is dragging or that there is too little happening, but neither is it rushed with an unbelievable quantity of disaster. While the focus of the novel is on Lonnie and Gideon's relationship, there is sufficient action too. Her attention to the setting is such that I could picture the Appalachians, though I have never seen them. It is a very rich novel - painful at times and heart-warming at others, but in no way a fluffy romance. 4.5 stars
November 17, 2013
Beautiful and memorable
I don't post many reviews but this book is so exquisitely written and evocative I can't help myself. Being from Appalachia I was intrigued so purchased BE STILL MY SOUL when it first released. I was especially drawn to the lovely cover and the story's premise. Was I ever delighted by the contents! Fresh, riveting, and emotional, this story will live on in minds and hearts for years to come. The author does some very brave things with her hero that make him so real and touching you are right there in the story with him and the woman he comes to love. In an age of formulaic fiction, this novel is anything but. I am a fan of Joanne Bischoff's for life and always recommend her and her books to reading friends at every opportunity. Can't wait to read more from her head and heart!
September 2, 2013
A Forced Marriage That Grows With God's Grace
Joanne Bischof in her new book, "Be Still My Soul" Book One in The Cadence Of Grace series published by Multnomah Books brings us into the lives of Lonnie Sawyer and Gideon O'Riley.
From the back cover: Night's chill tickled her skin. Lonnie pressed her hands together and glanced up. He was even more handsome up close. Having grown up the shy, awkward daughter of Joel Sawyer, she'd hardly spoken to any boy, let alone the one who had mothers whispering warnings in their daughter's ears and fathers loading shotguns.
Pretty Lonnie Sawyer is shy and innocent, used to fading into the background within her family, and among the creeks and hollows of the Appalachian hills. Though her family is poor and her father abusive, she clings to a quiet faith. But when handsome ladies' man and bluegrass musician Gideon O'Riley steals a kiss, that one action seals her fate.
Her father forces her into a hasty marriage with Gideon--a man she barely knows and does not love. Equally frustrated and confused by his new responsibilities, Gideon yearns for a fresh start, forcing Lonnie on an arduous journey away from her home in Rocky Knob.
Her distant groom can't seem to surrender his rage at the injustice of the forced matrimony or give Lonnie any claim in his life. What will it take for Gideon to give up his past, embrace Lonnie's God, and discover a hope that can heal their two fractured hearts?
Gideon only ever cared about himself. Now that Lonnie is his wife, will he ever be worthy of her heart?
I can't believe there is anything worse than a forced marriage. Neither Lonnie nor Gideon love each other. All Gideon did was steal a kiss and now he is paying a very high price for that one moment. Lonnie's heart is broken and it seems her future is shattered. Now these two wounded individuals have to learn how to make their future together work out in some kind of unity and harmony. Ms. Bischof has done an outstanding job of giving us characters that, for the first time, really don't love each other. "Be Still My Soul" is an exploration of marriage and how this journey will be so deeply spiritual and emotional. Ms. Bischof has begun this series with a bang and I am so looking forward to seeing where this very talented author is going to take us in the next book.
Disclosure of Material Connection: I received this book for free from Multnomah Books for this review. 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."
July 28, 2013
A Wonderful Book!
What an amazing story of forgiveness and love! Lonnie and Gideon find themselves trapped in a loveless, shotgun wedding. After living a life of abuse under her father's hand, sweet Lonnie hopes that Gideon will someday be able to love her. However, Gideon resents being bound to Lonnie and his anger grows and grows. This story has everything. There are highs and lows inside a marriage that binds two people together. There is hurt, anger, grief and despair. And finally, there is forgiveness, hope and love. Watching Gideon's growth throughout the book is captivating. And in watching Lonnie forgive him time and again, God's grace is apparent. The author has a beautiful writing style that truly makes her characters come to life with depth and realism. I loved this book!
July 6, 2013