July 31, 2012

Book Review—Karen Witemeyer’s Books

Over the last couple weeks I have had a delightful time reading through Karen Witemeyer’s four historical romances. As usual with series like this, I read through them so fast that I didn’t have time to sit and write a detailed review after each one, but here a few of my thoughts on each book in the order I read them.

A Tailor-Made Bride

My mom downloaded the Kindle copy of A Tailor-Made Bride when it was free on Amazon a few months ago. It was a book I had seen before and was always interested to read considering my love for 1800s romances. Not to mention the cover is both beautiful and humorous, and very eye catching. I have to say I was slightly disappointed. The book didn’t draw me in like some of my favorite stories. I was tempted to skim the first half, but it did get much better toward the end. I think the problem was that I didn’t love the guy. For me, the guy in a story is important. More times that not, I love the guy much more than the girl. This was the exception. I liked him . . . eventually, but didn’t love him. Still, despite my personal opinions, I was incredibly impressed by Witemeyer’s writing style. Her phrases and descriptions, particularly of emotion, have me a little envious! For this reason, it’s definitely worth the read.

To Win Her Heart

First, I have to say thank goodness I didn’t stop after reading A Tailor-Made Bride!! To Win Her Heart is one of the best, if not my favorite, historical romances I’ve ever had the pleasure of reading. This is very cliché of me to say, but I couldn’t put it down. I adored Levi, and I actually quite liked Eden. I enjoyed the progression of their relationship and really felt for Levi in his struggles. And I can’t say enough about the gorgeous cover. This is the book that drew me to Witemeyer’s fiction in the first place. What can I say? I have a thing for blacksmiths in historical fiction. :) Once again, the writing style left me in awe. All the emotions felt so real, and left this hopeless romantic with a dreamy sigh and big grin at the end. ;)


Short-Straw Bride

I anxiously dove into Short-Straw Bride as soon as it came in at the library shortly after finishing To Win Her Heart, and it did not disappoint. This gave me all the dreamy sighs the last one did, plus a healthy dose of giggles. This book cemented my opinion that Witemeyer not only writes great main characters, but also fabulous supporting characters. I was absolutely delighted by the sibling relationships between Travis and his three brothers.The story was fairly light-hearted compared to a lot of fiction I’ve read, but I liked that. My only complaint was some of Meredith’s actions. Over the years I’ve developed a pet peeve for woman in fiction taking matters into their own hands when the guy is perfectly capable and responsible for taking care of things. It comes up in almost every historical romance, it seems. Maybe it’s starting to feel cliché. Either that or it’s just because I’m not that kind of woman. Whatever the reason, it didn’t detract from my love for this book.


Head in the Clouds started out a bit slow for me, but once I got into it, I very much enjoyed it. This one seemed more serious than the other three, but still fun. What I loved about this one was how different it was from a lot of 1800s romances. Gideon, the main guy, was actually English and the son of a baron, but he moved to America to set up a sheep ranch. Because of this he definitely wasn’t the cowboy rancher I was used to in western novels. I really loved both Gideon and Adelaide, and thoroughly enjoyed the plot.

My conclusion is that Karen Witemeyer is now one of my favorite historical authors. In my opinion, she is one of the most skillful authors I’ve come across, particularly when it comes to emotion (something I would love to learn from). Her characters felt remarkably real, and I’ve found myself thinking about them long after I’ve put her books down. My biggest regret is that I don’t have any more of her books to read! I can hardly wait until she comes out with something new. I highly recommend these four books to fellow lovers of historical Christian romances. (Though, on the flip side, if romances aren’t your cup of tea, these probably aren’t for you. I’m not sure I’d recommend them for teens either.)

To learn more about Karen Witemeyer, visit: http://www.karenwitemeyer.com/

July 25, 2012

Gluten Stole My Ambition

It’s been a while. My strange post title is part of the reason. About a month ago I discovered that I have celiac disease. I can’t have anything containing gluten. Ever. That’s something that takes a long time to wrap your mind around. You would not believe how many things contain gluten besides bread and baked goods. It hides everywhere! It’s pretty overwhelming when you realize you’ll never be able to have an Oreo cookie again, or buy your favorite birthday cake, or bake anything normally. And I can’t just have a taste here and there. Nope. Even the smallest, invisible trace of gluten will make me sick (I’ve already experienced this). And it’s not just an annoying allergy. Gluten actually damages my small intestines, so it’s basically poison to me. Crazy, huh?

However, once I got past the mindboggling ramifications of going gluten free for the rest of my life, I was glad to know I had celiac. The thing is, I’ve been sick for almost three years. I suddenly got really nauseated one day, and it pretty much never went away. I had good days, but never felt normal. At one point, it got so bad that almost all I ate was crackers (which I now realize were just poisoning my body) and was down to 95 lbs. It was a scary time, and no one could tell me what was wrong! All my blood tests showed I was perfectly healthy. I eventually started eating more again, but the symptoms just wouldn’t go away. Then, last summer, I began struggling with depression. It lasted through the fall, winter, and early this spring. I’d completely lost all creativity and ambition, and even felt like I’d lost the ability to write! Now there’s a depressing thing for a writer. I was tired all the time no matter how much sleep I got. I attributed it to Seasonal Affective Disorder (which I get in the winter), but it didn’t go away with springtime and longer days.

Finally, and I think this was God stepping in after months of desperate prayer, I looked into celiac disease a little over a month ago. After reading through this page of symptoms, I knew that’s what I had. I found symptoms on there I never would have connected to my stomach issues, but it all started to make sense. I’ve been gluten free for four weeks now, and I’m noticing a huge difference. I don’t remember the last time I felt so healthy. My stomach problems have begun to disappear, as well as other symptoms, particularly symptoms I always thought were just bad allergies. And I’m even more sure gluten is bad for me after accidently glutening myself last week. I went from feeling amazing to being tired, depressed, and more stomach problems within a day. I’m finally now starting to feel better again.

So, now I have an answer to all those months of inactivity and lack of ambition. Never want to go through that again. I may mourn the loss of many of my favorite foods, but none of them are worth feeling sick all the time. My ambition is finally coming back. The problem now is how out of practice I am in my writing. It’s been a struggle to really get back into it again, but I’ll keep working. I’m sure it will get easier and easier to get back to normal the longer my body has to heal. It’s been a lot to take in and learn, and I’ve still got a long way to go, but I am so thankful to finally have answers and understand what’s been going on. It’s definitely something God has used to teach me patience and trust.