This novel is a very complex one. There are many layers of stories going on at once and at times I was little confused.
The setting is after the Civil War in a small town in Ohio. Our main character is Bianca. She is twenty-five and waiting for her true love, encouraged by her father. He's a bit of a romantic and because of him, Bianca is well read and intelligent. He sees an advertisement for a contest. The winner would travel to London and then journey to the Holy Land. She enters and is one of four winners.
The other characters are the man who originated the contest and the other travelers. Shortly after Bianca arrives in London, we find out that there is much more to the fellow travelers and the host than originally meets the eye. Throughout the journey on the boat and the time in the Holy Land, we gather information about the travelers and their relationships (hidden or overt) to the other travelers. Danger is woven into the narrative, as is romance.
I had a little trouble with Bianca. She is supposed to be so well read yet she is entirely naïve in some areas. She seemed poised one moment yet entirely falling apart the next. She just did not seem to have a consistent personality to me.
I did not like any of the other characters. Each was someone very different from whom he or she appeared to be on the surface. For me, that was a bit much. Trying to understand all the previous entanglements of the characters made reading the book more difficult.
One strong aspect of the book is the presentation of the gospel. It is presented strongly and several times. I felt at times it was a bit much and forced. Completing the novel, one would certainly have a clear understanding of the gospel.
I look forward to the next novel from this author. She says this story was fourteen years in the making. Perhaps that is why there are so many layers and complex characters in the book. I'd like to see one written in a year or two, with a more focused plot, consistent character structure and about fifty fewer pages.
Brandy Vallance lives in Colorado with her missionary husband. They have two children. You can find out more at www.brandyvallance.com.
Worthy Publishing, 400 pages.
I received a complimentary egalley of this book from the publisher for the purpose of an independent and honest review.