... which may not seem too extraordinary. Lots of girls are.
Favorite movies? Romantic comedies. Favorite TV shows? Well, those are rarely romantic, but it sure helps if there is some husky, manly lead character with great shoulders that I can lust after. Books that I read over and over? Romances. Or maybe I should re-categorize that as love stories, since the traditional "romance novel" is generally trash I avoid. I adore love stories, especially love stories set in times when men were gentlemen and women were modest. Hence my Austen compulsion. I often loose myself for days in the countryside of Regency England, falling in love over again with dapper young men in riding coats, preferably with a small fortune at their disposal. I'm no classics snob, though, and I've even been known to fall for an old fashioned vampire and a modern werewolf all in one story.
I have discovered a new author who transports me to another time and place,introducing me to strong, compelling women and honorable men who love them. Annette Lyon is an LDS author with six titles under her publication belt, four of which are historical novels centered around Utah temples in the 1800s. Having read and loved Spires of Stone (which I would briefly summarize as Much Ado About Nothing builds the Salt Lake Temple), I was quite excited and very flattered to be asked by Annette to preview and review her new novel, Tower of Strength, set around the construction of the Manti Temple. See a beautifully done book trailer by clicking here.
Tower of Strength features Tabitha, a young bride who is tragically widowed before the birth of her first son. Fear has kept her from returning to her hometown of Manti for nearly seven years. Now a woman with greater maturity and courage, the purchase of the local Manti newspaper brings her back home to face her past, in the form of her cold and accusing mother-in-law.
Enter Samuel, a simple yet charming British immigrant himself recently widowed. Together Tabitha and Samuel find fast friendship and companionship that progresses into something more.
Far from a sugary story of love at first sight with a ride into the sunset, Annette addresses themes of pain and loss and reluctance to love for fear of losing more. And far from a flat telling of boy meets girl, Annette knits and purls rows of texture--equine adventure, news reporting, crime sleuthing-- and colorful characters who make you cringe and smile and laugh and cry. The resulting creation is a compelling tale that you can wrap around your shoulders and warm up with.
Though the setting is early Mormon Utah, I am confident that my non-LDS friends would enjoy Tower of Strength as well as my Mormon friends. Annette's writing has universal appeal. Her characters are real, their stories ring true.
On a personal note, I'd like to add that happy as I am to have found a new source of romantic prose, I am more happy to have become acquainted with Annette through her blog, The Lyon's Tale. Annette is funny and kind, articulate and interesting, with diverse talents and interests. (Plus, she's practically my long lost twin!) If you're a grammar fanatic, or even just a sometimes wannabe writer like me, be sure to check out her Word Nerd Wednesday posts for an academic laugh. (Ooh, it's Wednesday--click over now!)