3 Stars Out Of 5
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August 26, 2013
Blue Jeans & Teacups
This review will contain spoilers.
I truly expected to enjoy this book since I loved The Rose of Winslow Street. Sadly, that is not the case.
This book has too much tragedy and the vile creepiness of the villain was to much for me. Instead of feeling refreshed from reading a Christian novel, I was deeply bothered, and felt sick to my stomach.
This book does have Christian references, but it felt as if God was in the background.
It begins in 1876 Boston, featuring Lydia, a lovely little girl who is half Greek, half Turkish and opens on her family's tiny boat, The Ugly Kate. Tragedy ensues which changes her life forever. Fast forward 15 years to 1891 and the story resumes with her working as a translator in the Boston Navy Yard.
Eventually, she encounters Alexander Banebridge aka Bane. Apparently this character was from a previous novel, The Lady of Bolton Hill. In that novel, I gather he was quite vile until he found salvation. After reading the vileness in this book, I have no intention of subjecting myself to any further reading of that sort. In this novel, Bane is a fun, interesting character who is tortured by his past and believes he must spend his life doing penance for it.
Professor Van Braken is devious and, I believe, insane. He values his collection of rare books as if they were his children. To fund his passion, he deals in the opium trade, which at that time, was legal. However, he is battling opposition and evading taxes, in addition to other crimes. He kidnaps children of wealthy men who would stand in his way and keeps them for years. If his opponents resist, he sends the child back dead. It is horrifying. Now, I am not saying this type of control never happened, but it is not what I personally enjoy reading.
The dependency on opium is covered in great detail in this book; particularly the long lasting effects from childhood into adulthood. Apparently, since it was not regulated and ingredients were not required on labels, it was added to children's teething medicines and tonics. Mrs. Winslow's Soothing Syrup was marketed from 1849 to 1915 in the U.S. and until 1930 in England and was widely administered to children, particularly in orphanages to get children to relax and behave (noted in the back of the book. Once they finally listed opium as its main ingredient, the public was outraged and they went out of business. We are along for the ride when one of the characters begins to stop the use of this drug and goes through heart wrenching withdrawals and all the detailed symptoms that go along with that.
Lydia, has intelligence in spades. She is a good person; however, she is not a Christian. I have trouble with Christian authors weaving romance around unequally yoked characters. It is not biblical, and I know from personal experience the heartache it causes by disobeying this important law. When an author leads a character down the road of salvation, but it is clear the intended match has already fallen in love prior to their revelation, and intends to help lead/guide them rather than seeking an equally yoked mate, I find that disturbing. It gives the sense that it is ok and could leave some Christians (not well versed in the bible) believing it is fine - we can help lead people to salvation for our romantic purposes. All to often, that leads to heartbreak.
I give it 3 out of 5 stars, because it is well written and very detailed. However it is not my cup of tea and I could not recommend it.
I leave it to you to judge for yourself.
You can read more about this author at www.ElizabethCamden.com
Included at the End:
*Discussion Questions for the reader to ponder or for a Book Club
I purchased this copy and am offering my honest opinions for no compensation.
Reviewed August 26, 2013