One thing I’ve always felt when it comes to reading (and reviewing) historical romance/fiction is that I need to take a day or two after finishing the story before I can write the review. For one thing I always, always feel like I need time to return to my own place in time/history and the world - historical’s aren’t the only stories to do this to me, science fiction, fantasy, they do it too.
After I’m reoriented in my normal, then I need to take time to think about everything in the story. The norms for the time period in the book is always different then the cultural and social norms of now, so I always try to think about those differences and how they played into or effected the actual events of the story, or the choices/decisions of the characters in it. In many ways this step for me is simply about trying to discern whether everything that happens in the story makes sense based on what I understand or have been told about the time period.
Fiction is fiction though, whether it’s historical, fantasy, paranormal or contemporary. Whatever slivers of fact are presented in a story are also married to the imagination of the author, and thus historical fiction doesn’t have to be 100% true to the period. In my opinion, despite whatever twists an author includes in their world, the closer to true the better.
What do you think? Are your favorite historical romances true to the historical period they represent? Or do the authors you love to read take a greater degree of creative license within the historical era they’re writing? #TheseAreThingsIWonder
Now on to the book...
The Petticoat Letters
by Kelly Lyman
Reading debut novels is always something fun for me. A fresh voice in any genre is nice to discover. Sometimes a debut work is good but rough, yet you know (or at least believe) with time and dedication the author will find his/her rhythm and their writing will improve. Other times you finish the story and just think yes! Yes, this is a writer with amazing skill, a wonderful voice, a beautiful way of telling the story, and such incredible potential that you simply can’t wait to read whatever they may come up with next. Either case is fine but the yes! finds are the ones that make reading all debut works worth it.
For me, The Petticoat Letters is one of those yes stories; Kelly Lyman one of the yes writers whose works I will continue to look forward to reading. While the American Revolution isn’t a subject I’ve read a lot about, it is not an era of which I’m ignorant. And this story with it’s talk of battles waged, it’s delightfully simple yet complex characters, and even it’s settings... it is honestly, simply, beautifully written and so well done.
From the very first chapter I was pulled in to the story by Nora Bishop and her somewhat unique situation. I say somewhat unique because an unmarried woman suddenly finding herself bereft of immediate family and under the protection of some other branch on the family tree is not in and of itself a unique situation in historical times, especially not during one of war. There are a million ways Lyman could have developed the storyline from this particular starting point, the one she chose - fascinating.
In The Petticoat Letters we follow Nora Bishop as she struggles with the loss of her family and the uncertainty of what her future may hold. Through the course of the story she discovers many things that ultimately change her perspective, her feelings, and her loyalties. She learns, re-learns, and learns again that appearances can be deceiving and that the truth of a person hearts is often very different from what they present to the world. In a very real sense her life is utterly changed not just once but twice. She has, right from the start, an innocence that isn’t ignorant of the harsh realities in life, yet she carries with her throughout the story a degree of naïveté that lends credence to the role she ends up playing. She’s smart, compassionate, inventive when she needs to be, quick-witted and, quite frankly, brave. She’s also more than a bit impetuous and frequently acts before considering all possible options and their consequences.
It is one impulsive choice after another that first leads her to meet Alex Foster and then to continually come to be within his sphere. The rest of their story, I guess you could say, is history. The path they take is a winding one full of danger and the choices they’re forced to make could very easily destroy them. But the journey - oh the journey through this story is wonderful and it entranced me completely.
For a debut historical romance I think it’s safe to say that Kelly Lyman hit a home-run with The Petticoat Letters. I’m also feeling pretty confident in saying that if you give it a chance, you’ll probably love Nora and Alex, and their story, just as much as I did.
At the time of this post there are still a few days left to enter the giveaway and get your name in for the chance to win 1 of 2 e-copies of The Petticoat Letters. If you’re reading this before January 30th, it is honestly easy to enter and there are multiple ways you can do it - so please, take a couple minutes and get your name in the draw. After all, you just may win and I promise it’s worth it!!! So enter here for your chance to win...
If you’ve missed the contest period, or simply don’t want to wait, you can purchase The Petticoat Letters here.
Happy Reading Everyone!