Review: “A Refuge Assured” by Jocelyn Green

Sometimes, stories will sweep you up into an era and a people that both fascinate and stir the heart with truth. This is all the more special when such a story exhibits historical facts and accuracy which are results of detailed research. Author Jocelyn Green’s latest historical novel, A Refuge Assured, is just such a story. Its characters are as vivid as the tumultuous time frame portrayed: the peak of the French Revolution colliding with post-revolution America. With it, Jocelyn has worked her way onto my list of all-time favorite authors! I highly recommend this historical novel (with a hint of romance) to fans of authors like Lori Benton and Laura Frantz.

About the Book

A Refuge AssuredLacemaker Vivienne Rivard never imagined her craft could threaten her life. Yet in revolutionary France, it is a death sentence when the nobility, and those associated with them, are forced to the guillotine. Vivienne flees to Philadelphia, but danger lurks in the French Quarter, as revolutionary sympathizers begin to suspect a young boy left in her care might be the Dauphin. Can the French settlement Asylum offer permanent refuge?

Militiaman Liam Delaney proudly served in the American Revolution, but now that the new government has imposed an oppressive tax that impacts his family, he barely recognizes the democracy he fought for. He wants only to cultivate his hard-won farm near Asylum, but he soon finds himself drawn into the escalating tension of the Whiskey Rebellion. When he meets a beautiful young Frenchwoman recently arrived from Paris, they are drawn together in surprising ways to fight for the peace and safety for which they long.

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Review

A Refuge Assured is an emotionally gripping and immersive story of a search for refuge and peace. With high emotions and multifaceted characters, Jocelyn Green knows how to pen a story that appeals to the heart and displays a bright hope. I felt like I was witness to revolutions and cries for liberty!

A Refuge Assured QuoteThe plights of Vivienne, and subsequently Liam, are attention-getting and full of natural ups and downs as they face challenges from their environments, political pressures, family stresses, and personal secrets that determine their paths. The added knowledge that so much REAL historical facts and events are portrayed in this story makes it all the more interesting!

What is true freedom? Is it rooted in a government, a cause, authority? Or, is it found as a child of the King, in His will and freedom to choose His path of forgiveness? These are just a few of the questions a reader might ponder when reading A Refuge Assured. This story is more than a narrative on history with relatable characters, it’s an experience of an era, vivid settings, and the hearts of human beings.

Thank you to the author and publisher, Bethany House, for the complimentary review copy of this book. This is my honest review.

Review: The Mistress of Tall Acre by Laura Frantz

New books by my favorite authors always make me happy. It’s the little things in life, right? 🙂 This time, The Mistress of Tall Acre by Laura Frantz surpassed my already high expectations. I have heard a few other reviewers use the adjectives “beautiful” and “poignant” to describe it. They are most definitely right, and I’m going to add “heartfelt characters” and “grand setting” to the list!

The Mistress of Tall Acre by Laura Frantz ReviewedBook summary: The American Revolution is finally over, and Sophie Menzies is starved for good news. When her nearest neighbor, General Seamus Ogilvy, finally comes home to Tall Acre, she hopes it is a sign of better days to come. But the general is now a widower with a small daughter in desperate need of a mother. Nearly destitute, Sophie agrees to marry Seamus and become the mistress of Tall Acre in what seems a safe, sensible arrangement. But when a woman from the general’s past returns without warning, the ties that bind this fledgling family together will be strained to the utmost. When all is said and done, who will be the rightful mistress of Tall Acre?

Triumph and tragedy, loyalty and betrayal–readers find it all in the rich pages of this newest historical novel from the talented pen of Laura Frantz. Her careful historical details immerse the reader in the story world, and her emotional writing and finely tuned characters never cease to enchant fans both old and new.

*on to the enthusiastic review*

Laura Frantz has a unique gift of storytelling which engulfs the reader in the story completely. From the very beginning, I was caught up in Sophie’s emotions: her relief that the war was over, her remaining uncertainty of what was to come, her longing for a family of her own. And, I think Laura Frantz used a new method to build romantic suspense in the story – tell the reader two characters will get together in the summary, then put it off longer than expected! At least, it was a little longer than this reader wanted. But all good things are worth the wait. ❤

Both Sophie Menzies and Seamus Ogilvy were very strong characters. She, used to living with little, was unfairly caught between two sides of society and left to the mercy of others. He was trying to readjust to life after the war and find his way back into his little girl’s life. It was precious how Sophie’s newfound companionship with little Lily Cate united her in purpose with Seamus in his efforts to be a good father.

Seamus’s time in the war had left him seemingly stern and abrupt at times (on the outside), but he was so sweet with Lily Cate! That’s what made me like him even more. Readjusting to the role of father or friend had to be hard during that era for returning soldiers used to commanding others. As the story progressed, Seamus proved to be very caring and tender. His strong determination and choice to face whatever tough decision might come were more reasons to love him.

I enjoyed seeing how these characters grew and changed because of their circumstances and influence on each other. For instance, Sophie brought out a different side of Seamus, an intensity and honesty. She encouraged him to lean on his faith in a different way than he had considered. Her experiences gave her a self confidence and renewed trust in God’s mercy. And, Lily Cate’s childlike trust in both Seamus and Sophie made them stronger.

Along with all the reasons I love this story, I want to tell you one teeny-tiny thing I didn’t like about the finished version of it. That is, the back cover summary made me think there would be somewhat of a love triangle, maybe with a previous love interest. This is happily not quite the case. So don’t let the summary discourage you if you don’t like love triangles, because this is NOT that type of story.

The way Scriptures and truths are woven in this story is beautiful. (I know, I’m overusing the word beautiful). A hint at truth being freeing, new mercies given each morning, and children being a gift from God are just a few examples.

There is an intensity to this story and an uncertainty which keeps the plot moving forward.The small element of suspense was very well executed by Laura. I don’t want to say more for fear of revealing too much, but I’ll say after a few particularly agonizing pages, I think I was holding my breath!

Laura Frantz sets the bar high for her genre — and keeps raising it– with each book! If you are new to historical fiction, Christian fiction, or new to Laura Frantz, this book is a perfect place to start.

A sincere thanks to Revell Publishers and Laura Frantz for a complimentary review copy of this book in exchange for my honest review. 

Book Review: George Washington’s Secret Six by Brian Kilmeade and Don Yaeger

Being a birthday twin with George Washington, I’ve often been interested in the revered military leader and first president.  When I received this book for my birthday, I was very excited to delve in to the story of the secret spy ring which contributed to the success of the Patriot efforts in the Revolutionary War. Here’s my take on book #7 of my Empty Shelf Challenge:

George Washington’s Secret Six: The Spy Ring that Saved the American Revolution by Brian Kilmeade and Don Yaeger is a nonfiction account of the Culper Spy Ring, residing in New York City, which thwarted several attacks and plans of the British during the course of the war. They risked their lives to observe, record, and relay the British troop activities within the city and in the surrounding ports. With clever routes and methods, these 5 men — and one lady — witnessed the struggles of their cause firsthand, facing great obstacles while covertly monitoring the British.

With enthusiasm and structure, Kilmeade and Yaeger provide the background of each of the members of the Culper Spy Ring, as well as the history and events leading up to their collaboration in New York. I found it fascinating that the identities of several of these agents was revealed years later – and only then through the shrouded correspondence Washington had preserved. The identity of one man was not uncovered until the 1920s, and the identity of one “lady” is still unknown. George Washington’s Secret Six reveals the character of Washington and the members of the ring, showing them to be true “Patriots” – brave, humble, and committed to their cause. Much credit is deserved by these men and lady, though modern history often neglects to disclose the essential role they played in the success of the Revolution.

Anyone who reads this book will have a better understanding of the valiant Founding Fathers of America. Even in modern times, their examples can be respected and looked up to. The Secret Six was a very interesting read that I really enjoyed.

George Washington's Secret Six by Brian Kilmeade and Don Yaeger

Are you a history buff? Who is your favorite “Founding Father”?