Monday, May 26, 2014

"While Love Stirs" by Lorna Seilstad

While Love Stirs
Focusing on Charlotte, the middle Gregory sister, Lorna Seilstad continues her series set in the the early 1900's.  Upon Graduating from Fanny Farmer's School of Cookery, Charlotte attempts to find a job in a restaurant in St. Paul, but chefs do not seem to want a female cook in their kitchens.  However, she does get a job traveling around the state offering cooking demonstrations on a new gas stove, with a sweet chaperone and a young musician with a gorgeous voice to keep her company.  On her weeks at home, though, she keeps running into the bossy, order-obsessed young doctor Joel Brooks, who does not care for her suggestions about improving the hospital fare.  Badgered into planning a charity ball with the handsome doctor, the two frequently clash, but they grow to be friends as well.  Can Charlotte set aside her fears for a strong, forceful man, or will she settle for the sweet?

I liked Charlotte a lot.  Though she learned previously not to bend over backwards or change herself to please a man, she is still something of a people pleaser - she hates to be disliked or to disappoint others.  I can be that way myself - maybe it's a middle child thing?  As such, I could relate to her well.  I was glad to see her make friendly overtures to those who do not necessarily respond in kind, yet still stand up for herself and others when she needs to.  She makes a strong heroine - not perfect, but someone to root for.

Following dreams seems to be a theme of the series - in the first book Hannah's dream of completing law school eventually came to pass in spite of impossible circumstances.  Though it isn't precisely what Charlotte was planning for herself, God makes a way for her to share her love of cooking, both in goods and knowledge.  I enjoyed becoming better acquainted with Tessa, the youngest sister, whose dream changes with the wind - it will be fun to read her story and find out where her heart truly lies!

Like usual for Seilstad, the time period and place are well researched and written, and I enjoyed being able to picture some of the places described, having been there myself!  Through the subplot about Tessa, the author is able to insert a bit of intrigue: a pair of mystery initials are given, and though it took a while for me to pick up on it, Seilstad does a great job of sneaking in red herrings to keep the reader guessing.  While sprinkled with the author's characteristic humor, the spiritual message is not as strong as in her other novels, but the story is most enjoyable.  4 out of 5 stars!

Thank you Revell for a free copy of the book for the purpose of review; I was not required to make it positive, and all opinions are my own. 

The Gregory Sisters
1. When Love Calls
2. While Love Stirs
3. As Love Blooms

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