Series Review & Giveaway: Everstone Chronicles by Dawn Crandall - an ACFW 2015 Carol Award Finalist

I'm excited to be sharing an historical romance series with you. The first book, The Hesitant Heiress, has a slight inspirational element perfect for historical AND inspirational romance readers alike. It's also an ACFW 2015 Carol Award Finalist in the debut category, which it definitely deserves! The other two books in the series are definitely more inspirational, so keep that in mind. I was sad that they're only available in ebook right now, but just found out that they'll be in print this fall (find more info and dates here). Check out all the usual info, my reviews, and a giveaway below...

The Hesitant Heiress (The Everstone Chronicles, #1)The Hesitant Heiress
(Everstone Chronicles #1)
by Dawn Crandall
Adult Historical Romance, Inspirational
ebook, 315 Pages
August 1st 2014 by Whitaker House Books

Summary

After being unjustly expelled from the Boston Conservatory of Music, Amaryllis Brigham sees her dreams of founding a music academy 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 her grandmother’s fortune. Amaryllis reluctantly takes part in her aunt’s society, intent on getting to the west coast on her own… and without a husband.

Despite her own misgivings, she soon finds herself falling in love with the most unlikely of men, Nathan Everstone, whose father not only had a part in her expulsion, but whose ominous presence has haunted her dreams for a decade since her mother’s tragic death. 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.

 

My Review

I thoroughly enjoyed The Hesitant Heiress from beginning to end! I found there to be great dialogue, lots of chemistry, plenty of humor, and some sweet romance. There was also high society, family dynamics, a little inspiration, and some danger that intensified the plot towards the end. 

I would have to say that my favorite part of this story, and what kept me from laying it down, was the constant romantic tension between Amaryllis and Nathan. I tend to like stories where the heroine and hero are at odds in the beginning, where there's not insta-love, but there is insta-attraction that at least one of the characters fight. It just builds that tension and also seems to develop a stronger base for a relationship as the couple get to know each other and eventually fight to be together. This definitely was the case with this story.

I also loved getting to know the families involved in this series. There is plenty of potential here for several stories and it definitely made me curious about other characters and possible romance for them. I also enjoyed seeing the contrasts between high society, the lower class, and those less fortunate. This is definitely a theme in the other books as well.

If you enjoy historical romance, inspiration or not, then I'd definitely recommend this one!


Content: There was an attempted rape and some violence, but I would consider this clean.

Source: Purchased.

The Bound Heart (The Everstone Chronicles, #2)The Bound Heart
(Everstone Chronicles #2)
by Dawn Crandall
Adult Historical Romance, Inspirational
ebook, 319 Pages
November 3rd 2014 by Whitaker House

Summary

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?

 

My Review

The Bound Heart was full of loss, heartbreak, hope, and love. It had some rough spots where the main character, Meredyth, had some things that she had to figure out. There were also special moments with family and friends, some inspirational moments, some twists, and unseen danger.

I really liked Meredyth from the first book in this series as well as Lawry, so I was looking forward to reading their story. Meredyth had some lessons to learn and took some time before she got there. She wasn't the only one though. It wasn't always easy to read, in fact there were spots where the characters upset me and I literally wanted to throw the book. What made this story worth it was Lawry and Wynn. I absolutely loved them! I loved Meredyth too, but I didn't always like her choices or how easy she let something or someone else decide her future.

By the middle of this story, I was completely invested and enjoying the romance and then things change. I wasn't sure how it all would go from there. I didn't like how easily one man took over and that it just didn't quite feel authentic. In the end, everything came together.

I'd recommend The Bound Heart to inspirational romance readers.

Content: Some innuendo and references to sex out of wedlock, as well as some violence, but I would consider this clean.
Source: I would like to thank the author for my complimentary copy, which did not affect my review in any way.

The Captive Imposter (The Everstone Chronicles, #3)The Captive Imposter
(Everstone Chronicles #3)
by Dawn Crandall
Adult Historical Romance, Inspirational
ebook, 276 Pages
April 1st 2015 by Whitaker House

Summary

Sent away for protection, hotel heiress Estella Everstone finds herself living undercover as a lady’s companion named Elle Stoneburner at one of her father’s opulent hotels in the mountains of Maine—the one she'd always loved best and always hoped to own one day, Everston. The one thing she doesn't like about the situation is that her ex-fiancé is in the area and is set on marrying someone else. Reeling from her feelings of being unwanted and unworthy, Estella reluctantly forms a friendship with the gruff manager of Everston, Dexter Blakeley, who seems to have something against wealthy young socialites with too much money, although they are just the kind of people Everston caters to. 

When Estella finds herself in need of help, Dexter comes to the rescue with an offer she can't refuse. She sees no other choice aside from going back home to her family and accepts the position as companion to his sister. Throughout her interactions with Dexter, she can't deny the pull that's evidenced between them every time he comes near. Estella realizes that while she's been hiding behind a false name and identity, she’s never been freer to be herself than when she's with Dexter Blakeley. But will he still love her when he finds out she's Estella Everstone? She's not entirely sure.

 

My Review

I really enjoyed reading The Captive Imposter. I remembered Estella from the previous books and was curious if she'd finally get her man. This story fit right in with this series with more great dialogue, arresting characters, some interesting family dynamics, some inspiration, and romance that was full of chemistry and friendship (just the way I like it).

Estella is definitely a more mild and reserved character in many ways, but not necessarily weak. For the first time she can be who she wants to be and who she really is without the restraints of high society and those that want her association due to her wealth. She also for the first time meets someone who completely intrigues her, attracts her, but also makes her feel safe. I loved Dexter. He also had more of the rough and rugged feel to him, while also being loyal, honest, and gentle.  He was a perfect counter to Estella. There were some other characters who made cameos in this book as well as some new characters that I enjoyed being a part of this story.

The plot was interesting. I liked how friendships developed over time and some of the sweet moments shared among friends, family, and between Estella and Dexter. There were a few places where things weren't quite consistent, places where what happened was a little too easy, and where the inspiration was a little too strong for my tastes, but overall I loved reading this one. 

Here's one quote that stuck out to me because it is so true and summed up the romance in this entire series:

     ". . . After all, no one is perfect. But that's part of the commitment you make when you marryto always love your spouse, flaws and all."
(Location 4301, Kindle version)
Another great book from this series and one I'd definitely recommend to inspirational romance readers.

Content: Some violence, innuendo, and references to a brothel, but I would consider this clean.
Source: Purchased.

About the Author

Dawn Crandall

Dawn Crandall writes inspirational historical romance. She has a BA in Christian Education from Taylor University and lives in northeast Indiana with her ever-supportive husband, her three cats [Lilly, Pumpkin and Clover] and their newest addition, a little baby boy.

Print copy of The Hesitant Heiress (to be sent once it's released - to US entrants only)
ebook of The Hesitant Heiress (Kindle or Nook provided by the author)
Open internationally as long as you can receive the ebook in your area.
Ends July 18th

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