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the bound heart book coverReviewed by Marisa Deshaies

Three families forever intertwined during the Gilded Age in America feel the twists, turns, and tugs of heartaches that come from the intermingling of friendships, families, and marriages. The Everstone, Hampton, and Summercourt children have been friends since before birth. The lone young lady of her age in her circle of friends, Meredyth Summercourt has always counted her close friendship with Lawry Hampton as a blessing. Despite their almost-sibling relationship—and everyone’s surprise that they have not formed an attachment after years of close ties—Meredyth keeps her eyes and heart focused on Vance Everstone.

An unfortunate circumstance leaves Meredyth believing that marriage to Vance is her only chance of redemption; Lawry, however, holds strong to God’s plans for his and Meredyth’s future together. While Lawry fights for Meredyth’s heart, Vance’s return home poses multiple threats that could change Meredyth and Lawry’s lives forever. With the chance to believe in God’s love and redemption, Meredyth must choose between the plan she has always believed He has had for her or the one He has truly designed for her life.

The Bound Heart opens quick and suspenseful and doesn’t let go until the last page. This novel, the second of three in Dawn Crandall’s The Everstone Chronicles, has everything a reader looks for in inspirational historical fiction: a strong hero, a swoon-worthy hero, romance with purity and passion, suspenseful action, a calling for the greater good, and spiritual lessons that deepen readers’ faith. Crandall has written a story that is fantastic in its characters and characterization, historical content, setting and plot, and its spiritual themes. With a strong following from The Hesitant Heiress, Crandall had an intimidating lead to follow for her second novel; however, The Bound Heart proves an excellent contender.

The intertwining of the families who comprise The Everstone Chronicles series creates a comfortable atmosphere within these novels that invite readers directly into Crandall’s stories. Introduced in The Hesitant Heiress, Meredyth Summercourt and Lawry Hampton are welcomed back with vigor into The Bound Heart. Lawry is a beloved friend of the male lead in Crandall’s first novel; there is no doubt that readers will fall for him upon the opening of her second book. Handsome, passionate, intelligent, loyal, kind, God-fearing and faith driven, and faithful to a fault, male leads do not come much better than Lawry Hampton. Meredyth, a female confidant in The Hesitant Heiress, leads Crandall’s second novel with beautiful first-person point-of-view that draws readers into her life through the emotive inner-workings of a young woman eager for redemption but unsure of her own worthiness. Between these two lead characters and a variety of secondary ones that push and pull Meredyth and Lawry through their lives, The Bound Heart brings the Gilded Age to life with characters that feel like family.

Plotlines in The Bound Heart support the themes of Crandall’s second novel. Historical aspects of the Gilded Age bring The Bound Heart to life as her characters show the culture and expectations that influenced people in every part of their life. Lawry and Meredyth’s passion for those less fortunate than themselves, for example, is a driving force in the novel that is opposed by their family and society but essential to their relationship and individual growth. This plotline is a particular favorite of mine and one in which I feel Crandall excels because her attention to detail to her characters’ spiritual callings for the less fortunate allow The Bound Heart to penetrate readers’ emotions regarding their own passions and God’s plans for their lives. Meredyth’s spiritual growth is stilted at times; a fuller explanation of her understanding of God’s Word would make her acceptance of His plan for her life more realistic. Nevertheless, Crandall’s themes of redemption and mercy are plainly made, so Meredyth’s change of heart is believable.

I wholeheartedly recommend The Bound Heart for readers who love inspirational historical romance. This novel, while second in the series, can be read as a stand-alone book, and is a good choice for a single reader or for group discussion.

Rating: ★★★★½ 

An alumna of the University of Delaware’s English department, Marisa holds a Master’s degree in professional writing from New England College. Her dream job is to work as an editor for a publishing company. A voracious reader of all types of literature, her favorite genres include the classics, contemporary and historical fiction, Christian fiction, and women’s “chick-lit”.

Review copy was provided free of any obligation by Whitaker House. No monetary or any other form of compensation was received.