I have had the privilege of getting to read and review The Everstone Chronicles by Dawn Crandall and I’d like to share my thoughts with you about each of the books in the series today. While the books do connect, each of the books can easily be read as a stand alone.
The Hesitant Heiress is the first book in the series.
After being unjustly expelled from the Boston Conservatory of Music, Amaryllis Brigham sees her dreams of founding a music academy in her hometown of Seattle, Washington, disappearing before her very eyes. Now, the only way to achieve her goal comes with high stakes for someone set on avoiding men as much as possible: Marry within the year to inherit the immense fortune of her estranged grandmother. Amaryllis reluctantly moves in to her aunt’s Boston home and rubs shoulders with fashionable society. Despite her own misgivings, she soon finds herself quickly falling in love with the most unlikely of men–Nathan Everstone, the envy of every eligible female, whose father has haunted her dreams for the decade following her mother’s tragic death. However, Nathan turns out to be much more than he seems…and everything she never knew she wanted. But just as everything Amaryllis has recently hoped for comes to fruition, it all falls apart when she finds that the real culprit who has been managing her life isn’t who she thought at all.
This book captured my attention from the very first page. Ms. Crandall did a wonderful job of immediately engaging me and even my emotions on behalf of the heroine, Amaryllis. She weaves an interesting, intriguing story that had me unwilling to put the book down until I found out some answers and saw some resolution.
I do have to admit I was a little confused toward the beginning, trying to figure out what was going on and what the truth was about the past, and I wanted things to unfold a little faster than they did.
While my attention was quickly captured by the situation the Amaryllis finds herself in at the beginning of the book, it wasn’t long before I began to get a little frustrated with her. As the book progressed, I realized that things were probably not as they appeared to her, but she was very stubborn in refusing to see events and people any differently than she had. Amaryllis was so insistent that every man is inconsistent and I think she viewed God that way as well. She thought she trusted Him, but she didn’t really.
While she had a tendency to be extremely honest with others about what she saw in them and their situations, she was not so with herself. She was blinded to the truth for so much of the book and that became more than a little frustrating after a while, especially when she had opportunity to find out more about the past, but would not, as if she were in denial, refusing to see the past in any way other than how she currently viewed it.
Even though Amaryllis’ stubborn refusal to see the truth became exasperating, Nathan’s sweetness and his obvious care for her made up a little for that exasperation. I loved Nathan and his character and I was a little disappointed that it took Amaryllis so long to let go of grudges from the past that were not even based on full truth so that she could finally see him for the godly, sweet man that he was. She wasted a lot of time running from her past and her problems instead of facing them. And while that was incredibly irritating, I can see how we often do the same thing in our own lives. Hopefully, we won’t be quite as long in coming to see the truth as it took Amaryllis. The more I read, the more thankful I became for Nathan and his willingness to love her in spite of how she treated him. Through that willingness and consistency, he eventually won her over. The resolution and ending finally came and helped make up for all the rough bumps in getting there.
The second book is The Bound Heart.
One accidental kiss from Lawry Hampton. That was all it took to throw Meredyth Summercourt’s world upside-down. Determined to marry the ever-elusive Vance Everstone, she simply doesn’t have the time or the desire to fall for her best friend. But with Vance out of the country, and with Lawry at her side nearly every day, teaching her what the world is like through the eyes of a little orphan girl named Wynn–Meredyth can’t deny that what’s holding her to Vance is nothing more than a desire to redeem herself from her past. Will she marry Vance once he returns from Europe? Or will she be strong enough to break free from the tangled web she’s convinced she deserves, and accept that God’s plan for her life includes redemption…and, quite possibly, Lawry Hampton?
I really enjoyed this book and getting to know better some of the characters I was introduced to in the first book. Watching Meredyth’s story, her past, and her thought process about what she must deserve because of it unfold was a little heartbreaking and more than a little realistic. How often do we view ourselves as she did, knowing we must deserve one thing for our actions when God just wants to offer us His precious grace and redemption? I loved getting to see God break through to Meredyth, showing her the healing and hope He has in store for her. So often, we try, as Meredyth did, to do things to earn right standing with God, to somehow right our wrongs when really the only way to do so is to admit them and let God heal them, let Him cover our sins with the pure blood of His perfect Son.
Lawry was a wonderful character and one of my favorite things about this book was seeing Meredyth’s eyes slowly open to him, his love for her, and her own love for him. His steadfast love for Meredyth was precious and swoon worthy.
Ms.Crandall did an excellent job of engaging me as the reader in Merdyth’s journey in discovering God’s forgiveness, truly being able to accept it, and finally being able to forgive herself so that she could be set free for the life God has for her. I love how Ms. Crandall tells her stories in first person. She so very accurately captures the way we, especially as women, often view ourselves and the people around us. She shows how our doubts, hurts, and insecurities can affect our thought processes and the way we view others all while still managing to convey to the reader things about other characters that the heroine may not see so accurately.
Next we have The Captive Imposter.
For her own protection following the murder of her brother Will, hotel heiress Estella Everstone assumes the alias of Elle Stoneburner and takes a job as companion to an elderly widow. Never did she imagine that her position would lead her back to her beloved Everston, a picturesque resort property tucked away in the rugged mountains of Maine. Living below her station in a guise of anonymity has its struggles, but her spirits are buoyed by a newfound friendship with the hotel manager, Dexter Blakeley. And his distaste for the spoiled socialites who frequent his hotel causes her to take a close look at her own priorities and past lifestyle. When Estella finds herself in need of help, Dexter comes to the rescue with an offer of employment she can’t refuse. As the two interact and open up to each other, Estella feels a growing attraction to Dexter; and increasing discomfort over concealing her identity. Yet, in spite of the false pretense she’s putting forth, she’s never felt freer to be herself than in his presence. But will he still love her when he learns the truth about who she is?
In this, the third book of the The Everstone Chronicles, we find yet more mystery as we encounter Dexter Blakely and his family. Discovering more about the Blakely family and their connections with the Everstone family is an intriguing part of this novel. Each of the books in Ms. Crandall’s series has allowed us a view into the lives of the Everstones, their history, their flaws, and their good sides. Getting to know more about them in each book is a great draw of the series.
Estella has spent a long time pining after someone, who, in my opinion, quite frankly doesn’t deserve her and hasn’t treated her well. Just like Estella, many of us have, at some point in our lives, tried to force something to be that was not meant to be—maybe a relationship or a job among other things. Finally, here in this novel, we get to see Estella truly let go of something not meant to be, something that God knows is not best for her and then watch as He orchestrates His beautiful best for her.
I believe that Estella and Dexter’s developing relationship is one of my favorites of the series. Again, we find a steadfast character in the hero who makes you fall in love with him right along with the heroine. In spite of the false name and position Estella has to use for protection, she’s actually able to more freely be herself than she would as Estella Everstone, enabling Dexter to get to know the real her without personal prejudice potentially getting in the way. Their sweet friendship that grows into love will melt your heart as you join them on their journey.
The Cautious Maiden, the fourth book in The Everstone Chronicles, just released at the beginning of October and is well worth the read! I will be sharing my thoughts on The Cautious Maiden as a part of Dawn Crandall’s blog tour on Friday, November 4! I hope you’ll come back and join us then for my full review of it as well as a giveaway.
**I received the books in this series free of charge from the publisher. All opinions in these reviews are my own.
If you haven’t read any of the books in this series, but you’d like to start, click below for the chance to win a Kindle version the first book in the series, The Hesitant Heiress.