The Skylark’s Secret

This is one of 12 reviews I did last quarter for Historical Novels Review Magazine/Historical Novel Society website. I will be doing a feature on all of them this week.

In the late 1970s, Lexie Gordon returns home with her daughter, Daisy, to Aultbea, a small fishing village on Loch Ewe in the Scottish Highlands. She has come to live in her family’s cottage after a vocal cord injury ended her singing career in London. Embarrassed at first that the town gossipers might judge her for her lost career or single parenthood, Lexie slowly begins to reconnect with her town. She also begins to discover, through the townspeople, secrets of her family’s past.

In 1939, Flora Gordon lives with her family in the Keeper’s Cottage in Aultbea. Her father is the gamekeeper for the Laird, a surly and imposing man. Aultbea is suddenly tapped as the location for the Royal Navy’s Arctic convoys and is turned into a military base virtually overnight. At the same time, Flora finds herself falling in love with the Laird’s son.

Valpy paints a gorgeous word picture of the beauty of Scotland, both before and after the war, as well as the scars left behind in Loch Ewe when the war is over. I also enjoyed the description of everyday life in a fishing village and how that is suddenly changed by a military presence. The characters are well developed. The love between Flora and her family, and the love Lexie has for her daughter, is palpable. I was often furious at the cruel tactics of the well-crafted and despicable Laird. The town comes alive through its people and their connection to each other. This is a well written novel involving WWII fiction, Scottish history, and family dynamics with a touch of romance. 

I received a free copy from Amazon Publishing UK and Historical Novels Review Magazine via Netgalley. This appeared on The Historical Novel Society Website/Historical Novels Review Magazine.

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The Edge of Belonging

The Edge of Belonging by Amanda Cox is a multi-timeline novel set mostly in Tennessee. It shifts from 1994 to 1998-1999, and back to Present Day. 

In 1994, Harvey, homeless and living by the highway, finds an abandoned baby girl. He connects with her immediately, trying to care for her in his lean-to by the side of the road. Abandoned as a boy, he hopes to make a family with this lost little girl.

In the Present Day, Ivy, who is in an abusive relationship with a controlling fiance, returns home to Tennessee to settle her grandmother’s estate. Her grandmother has left her a message and pointed her to a journal which will explain more about her adoption. With the help of her friend Reese, she starts to try and find out more about the first three months of her life.

The beauty of this book lies in the simple message of family and what constitutes a family. Ivy’s family has always been her parents, her grandmother, and her Uncle Vee. But who are they really? 

This book also hits some hard issues. It looks at domestic abuse, sex trafficking, drug abuse, the foster care system, and PTSD. It shows how important it is to love each other, and how love can transform a life. And it shows how God answers prayers, but not always in the way you would expect. 

The Edge of Belonging is well written and hard to put down. The characters are so well developed that they will permanently touch your heart. The message of hope amid sorrow and tragedy abounds through the book. I highly recommend this to anyone who has experienced loss, or anyone who just wants to read a well written novel. 

I received a free copy of this book from Revell via Netgalley. My review is voluntary. 

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