Friday, March 1, 2013

First Friday Debut: Sanctuary for a Lady by Naomi Rawlings

Okay, here's the idea...I'll review a debut novel on the first Friday of the month. The author might be brand-spanking new, a long-standing favorite, or somewhere in between. Whoever the author is, First Fridays will be reserved for the debut offering.

I confess this idea has been rattling around in my brain for many months. I've missed several perfectly good First Fridays out of procrastination ("Yes, the first Friday is coming up, but I've got plenty of time.") or inattention ("Oh, fiddlesticks! I missed the First Friday again!") Well, today the mood struck at just the write moment, so here I am.

This month's debut is from a personal, cyber-friend of mine, Naomi Rawlings. It was published in April 2012, and her second offering, though in the works, is not yet available. So she still falls under the "Brand-Spanking New" category. We were "introduced" by a mutual friend and fellow writer, and we have tons of things in common. Listing them would be boring (to you, though it tickles me pink), so I won't. Suffice it to say, I'm taking great interest in the career of this promising new writer.

Without further ado, my review of Sanctuary for a Lady

Sanctuary for a Lady (Love Inspired Historical Series)

From the Cover:
(Just look at that beautiful cover) --->

Rescued by the Enemy--The injured young woman Michel Belanger finds in the woods is certainly an aristocrat. And in the midst of France's bloody revolution, sheltering nobility merits a trip to the guillotine. Yet despite the risk, Michel knows he must bring the wounded girl to his cottage to heal.

Attacked by soldiers and left for dead, Isabelle de La Rouchecauld has lost everything. A duke's daughter cannot hope for mercy in France, so escaping to England is her best chance of survival. The only thing more dangerous than staying would be falling in love with this gruff yet tender man of the land.  Even if she sees, for the first time, how truly noble a heart can be...

Andrea's Take:
Take the Good Samaritan, plunk him down in war-torn Revolutionary France, and make his patient the beautiful daughter of a slain aristocrat, and you have the basic description for this novel.

This was my first impression, though Naomi later told me that theme hadn't occurred to her while she was writing it. (I love finding "accidental" themes in novels. :) Other prevalent (and likely purposeful) themes are healing and forgiveness. Both characters suffer spiritual wounds in connection with the ongoing Revolution, and the healing of those wounds is a spiritual parallel to Isabelle's physical healing. Forgiveness is a necessary stop on their path to true love.

Their stations in life make them natural enemies, thus they must learn to lay aside the broad brush of generality, and see one another as individuals rather than one of a collective. She is more than an aristocrat. He is more than a peasant. While neither can control the world around them, they can, and do, strive to view that world from the other's perspective. In a surprising twist (which I absolutely loved!), Isabelle has the opportunity change roles, from patient to Good Samaritan.

I won't give away the ending, but I'll say that it was fresh and satisfying, certainly not the run of the mill happy ever after.

My readers may or may not know that I'm a  proud Anglo-phile (which tends to make me a natural Franco-phobe). British literature and history enthrall me. French? Not so much. That this novel was able to draw me so fully into the time and place of the French Revolution (not to mention leave me wanting stories for more of these amazing characters) is a definite feather in the author's cap to my way of thinking.

5 Stars * * * * *

I gladly award Sanctuary for a Lady five brightly shining stars because I cannot think of one thing I would have changed in this story.

Naomi's second novel is due out sometime, but I don't know when. (Perhaps I can persuade her to come by the comments section and let us know.) I do know it is set in 19th Century America, not Revolutionary France. What I've heard of it sounds wonderful. But I hope she'll return to the cast of Sanctuary for a Lady in the future. There's a brother in this book who really needs his own story.

1 comment:

  1. What a lovely review, Andrea! Thanks so much for sharing the book with your blog readers. :-)

    Um, I do have answers to some of your questions. First, my next book releases in January of 2014, and no, it is not set in France.

    BUT . . . I do have a contract for two more Belanger family stories. So I'm heading back to France for more writing, and yes, the rather interesting brother does get his own story. I can't wait to fix up some of his problems and make him into a wonderful husband for some deserving woman. :-)