Friday, April 24, 2015

Review: "Twice Loved" (Second Chance Brides) by Wendy Lindstrom

TWICE LOVED is the SWEET edition of Shades of Honor: 

She Planned To Marry Her Best Friend—Then His Brother Returned Home And Complicated Everything. 

Marrying her lifelong friend and neighbor, Kyle Grayson, will allow Evelyn to care for her ailing father. But when Kyle’s older brother, Radford, returns home with his young daughter, it turns Evelyn’s life upside down. The wounded man and withdrawn little girl awaken Evelyn’s heart and she can no longer deny her need for love. Will she be forced to choose between her desperate need for security and the love she has always dreamed of? 

Genre: Historical Romance (Sweet Edition)
My Review:
Twice Loved is a wonderfully-written, emotionally-gripping story of a woman torn between the man she is committed to marrying, and the man she loves. Wendy Lindstrom creates a compelling picture of historical Fredonia, NY and the Grayson family, and draws the reader into the lives of her characters. A fantastic first "sweet novel" in the Grayson series, it invites us into the lives of Evelyn, Radford, and Kyle but also teases us with glimpses of Duke and Boyd Grayson and entices the reader to want to read their stories as well.
Radford is a troubled soul, haunted by his experiences in the Civil War and suffering from the nightmares and flashbacks resulting from those experiences. The author's realistic depiction of his nightmares and the scenes from the war draws the reader into the pain that Radford experiences. He finally returns home 5 years after the war, with his 4-year-old daughter in tow. The author draws us into the strife between Kyle and Radford created by Radford's return and creates an environment where the reader can actually feel empathy for both of these men who are fighting for what they believe most important to them. Kyle is also engaged to Evelyn, Kyle and Radford's childhood friend and the daughter of Radford's confident and leader during the Civil War. The love triangle that ensues between Kyle, Radford, and Evelyn is heart-wrenching and beautiful at the same time. They each experience their own anguish and hurt as the story unfolds and the reader is drawn into the emotions that each of them feels.
The author should issue a pack of tissues with each book purchased! The sign of a book that completely draws you in is one in which you find yourself crying and laughing along with the characters in the book - and Twice Loved did that in spades! The love and the heartache both create an emotionally-charged situation leading to the climax of the love-triangle. As Radford continues to struggle with his inner-demons, Evelyn struggles with her feelings for Radford, her desire to continue running her family livery, and the failing health of her father. It's a shame that Evelyn and Radford's happily ever after had to come at Kyle's expense. While I found myself rooting for Radford and Evelyn's happily ever after, my empathy for Kyle wants him to find his as well.
I thought it was masterful how the author created Evelyn's father's love story with her mother to parallel Evelyn's struggles with her feelings for Kyle and Radford. It enables Evelyn to draw on the strength of her parents love as a means of following her own heart. Her father is a delightfully engaging character and a wonderful means to help draw Radford and Rebecca back into life in Fredonia. The author's use of secondary characters to create a picture of Fredonia really makes the reader want to step back into post-war Fredonia with the Grayson's.
Twice Loved is the "sweet" version of Shades of Honor. I had read Shades of Honor a couple of years ago. Prior to reading this book, I was curious to see how the author would be able to ensure a smooth story line while removing the sensual aspects of the story. I was pleasantly surprised; the story flowed so seamlessly that I couldn't tell where the sensual scenes had been removed. And I didn't miss them! I enjoyed the story with the sensual scenes in Shades of Honor but this story was equally enjoyable, compelling, and emotionally-charged even without those scenes. I would recommend this book to anyone who wants an "intimacy-free" historical romance. For those looking for a more sensual story, Shades of Honor will deliver!

Goodreads - Amazon

About the Author:
I was born and raised in upstate New York. My seven siblings and I were as wild and untended as the land around us, nurtured by the rich, black earth and warm sunshine. We swam in a shallow creek and made forts in the corn field where I would lie beneath the enormous blue sky and imagine epic adventures.

Alone I would haunt the forest, sharing my stories with the trees. I would press my face against their bark to feel their energy; a deeply furrowed oak, a scaly pine, a smooth beech, all welcoming my skinny arms and childish cheek. Thirty feet in the air, I would perch on their limbs, feeling safe beneath their leafy canopy. There I would become the heroine of the stories I imagined. There I began my life as a writer.

My first attempt at storytelling was in English comp class at SUNY University at Fredonia. My professor, Melinda Wendell, told me I had a voice for storytelling and that she hoped to see my work in a bookstore one day. (Thank you, Professor Wendell!) I never finished that particular story, but in the messy, handwritten pages of my journal an idea began to form. While researching, I came across a Civil War memoir by George K. Collins and I knew I’d found the premise for my first book Shades of Honor.

My award-winning Grayson Brothers series set in 19th Century Fredonia echoes the sounds and smells of my childhood. Like me, my characters are driven to understand what it means to be alive to each experience and fully embrace the unknown.

While writing books three and four of my Grayson Brothers series I spiraled into chronic fatigue syndrome. Although I dabbled with a few projects during that time, I didn’t have the energy or focus to write a book. Like all adventures, there comes a moment when a person must embrace the unknown and leap! I took up tai chi to get myself moving again. I started kickboxing a few months later and eventually began taking karate. I’m happy to say that I have since earned an Green Belt in A.K.T. Combatives and have returned to vibrant health. Most importantly, I published SLEIGH OF HOPE and LEAVE IT FOR THE RAIN, books 5 and 6 in the Grayson Brothers series. More books in the Grayson Brothers series, and also in my new Crane Landing series, are in the works.


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