About the Book
Author: Liz Tolsma
Genre: Christian Fiction/Historical Fiction/Romance
Release date: May, 2022
Can Promises Made in Times of Struggle Endure 200 Years?
Visit historic American landmarks through the Doors to the Past series. History and today collide in stories full of mystery, intrigue, faith, and romance.
Young, spirited Josie Wilkins life is about to take a turn when faced with political turmoil and forbidden love in San Antonio of 1836. John Gilbert has won her heart, despite being a Protestant preacher who is forbidden to practice his faith in Texas. Will either of them survive an epic battle for liberty to create a legacy of love?
Nearly 200 years later, Kayleigh Hernandez takes breaks from her demanding job as a refugee coordinator working with Mexican migrants to attend flea markets where she has found a uniquely engraved ring. Enlisting the help of appraiser Brandon Shuman, they piece together a love story long forgotten. But will dangers linked to Kayleigh’s work end her own hopes for leaving a legacy built on hope, faith, and love?
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This dual time novel got off to a bit of a rough start. In the 1836 narrative, there are allusions to something terrible having happened to Josie previously. It seems very important but the information so vague, I wondered if I had missed a previous novel. We eventually find out what happened but earlier information would have helped me be more engaged in Josie as a character. This part of the novel starts with the people having settled in Mexican held territory north of San Antonio feeling in grave danger. I was lost much of the time as I felt there was not sufficient background material included to set an understanding of the situation. A paragraph describing the historical, political and military conditions would have helped a great deal.
While Josie is the heroine in this time period, I had difficulty liking her. She acted impulsively. Was she brave or foolish? She thinks, “If only she had thought this through better.” (1791/3434) She had to repeatedly apologize for her actions and at one point said she would never admit to John that he was right. (2058/3434) I felt there were unreasonable scenes of her being attacked by Manuel. One time she is riding on the lonely prairie but does not notice him coming because she is thinking about a poem. (1448/3434) On a prairie, where one can see for miles?
There was repetition in the narrative. The Mexican camp tents lined up in perfect rows were mentioned twice in close proximity with nearly exact descriptions. (1760/3434 and 1781/3434) I am not sure all the shenanigans with the ring work out well. In the contemporary story, the person desiring the ring just comes out of nowhere. And the final information reveal that puts it all together came out of the blue too.
I did appreciate the information in the novel about the Alamo and the battle there. I liked the informative historical note at the end, distinguishing fact and fiction. While I think this is not Tolsma's best novel, I have generally liked her work and will be watching for her next book.
My rating: 4/5 stars.
About the Author
More from Liz
The Story of Susannah Dickinson, Alamo Survivor
When asked how many died at the Alamo, many would answer that everyone did. While it’s true that all fighting on the side of Texas independence perished, there were survivors, all women and children and one slave. The only white woman (the rest were of Mexican descent) was Susannah Dickinson, along with her daughter Angelina. Susannah had followed her husband, Almaron, to Mexican Texas in 1831. They had married two years before when Susannah was just fifteen. She never learned to read or write.
She and the other women hid in the sacristy of the church, one of the surviving buildings in the mission and what we now think of as the Alamo. Her husband died, but Mexican General Santa Anna found them and spared their lives, sending them to Sam Houston with $2 each and a blanket.
She married again the following year but divorced him almost immediately on the grounds of cruelty. She married a third time the following year and was married for five years until her husband died of alcoholism. A fourth marriage occurred in 1847, but she divorced again in 1857, this time allegedly because she was having an affair. That same year, she married for a fifth time. This marriage lasted until her death in 1883.
The ring in A Promise Engraved is based on a cat’s eye ring supposedly given to Angelina by William Travis before the battle. Angelina was Susannah’s only child. She married and had three children, but that marriage ended in divorce. She gave the ring to a man she’d become involved with in New Orleans. She married again and had one more child but died in 1869 from a uterine hemorrhage.
Today there are many descendants of Susannah Dickinson. If you visit the Susannah Dickinson house in Austin, you’ll see a quilt that is signed by many of her living descendants.
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I received a complimentary egalley of this book through Celebrate Lit. My comments are an independent and honest review. The rest of the copy of this post was provided by Celebrate Lit.
(My star ratings: 5-I love it, 4-I like it, 3-It's OK, 2-I don't like it, 1-I hate it.)