Tag: England

Quote from The Secrets of Paper and Ink: This girl had a story worth telling—and so did Sophia. It was worth telling. It was.

Book Review | The Secrets of Paper and Ink by Lindsay Harrel

The Secrets of Paper and Ink is the story of three women: Sophia Barrett, a women’s counselor from Phoenix, Arizona; Ginny Rose, bookshop owner from Port Willis, Cornwall; and Emily Fairfax, governess and lady’s companion in Victorian England.

Sophia returns to work after a three-month enforced sabbatical following a mental breakdown—the result of her conflicted feelings over the death of her fiance a year ago … her abusive fiance. She lasts less than an hour before her past intrudes again and she runs away. This time she makes a spur-of-the-moment decision to visit Cornwall, once home to her favourite dead novelist.

Owning a bookshop in a remote Cornish village isn’t Ginny’s dream—it’s her husband’s dream. But he’s currently off “finding himself” in London, leaving Ginny with a failing business and no other means of support. She could go back to America and back to her parents, but that would mean being back under her mother’s control.

Emily’s story comes to us through a journal Sophia discovers in the back of Ginny’s shop. She’s the impoverished daughter of the town’s drunken parson, now supporting herself as a governess while secretly writing a journal, a novel, and letters to her forbidden beloved.

It’s good to see Christian fiction that deals with the hard areas in life.

The Secrets of Paper and Ink features a therapist who’s a victim of domestic violence, a separated Christian woman, and an impoverished gentlewoman. All are in difficult situations, partly a result of their own bad decisions but more a result of the decisions of the men they depended on.

The Secrets of Paper and Ink is a powerful story of love and loss and loving again.

The writing is excellent, and I loved the way the author wove the Victorian story into the contemporary. The main theme is of three women forced to discover their identities as individuals rather than as daughter, fiance, or wife. It’s a challenge many modern women still face—finding our purpose in God rather than in man.

It’s a strong message that’s presented well.

The novel isn’t preachy at all—in fact, you could give this to a non-Christian friend and they probably wouldn’t even guess it’s from a Christian publisher. At the same time, it’s true to real life and true to the Bible. Sin is present, but so are the consequences. And the end message is most definitely Christian: that we are defined by Whose we are. It doesn’t matter where we’ve been or what mistakes we’ve made along the way. What matters is that we can find our peace in God.

Thanks to Thomas Nelson and NetGalley for providing a free ebook for review.

About Lindsay Harrel

Linsay Harrel, author of the Heart Between UsLindsay Harrel is a lifelong book nerd with a B.A. in journalism and M.A. in English. She lives in Arizona with her young family and two golden retrievers in serious need of training. Lindsay has held a variety of jobs, including curriculum editor for two universities, medical and business writer, and copywriter for a digital marketing agency. Now she juggles stay-at-home mommyhood with working freelance jobs, teaching college English courses online, and—of course—writing novels.

When she actually has time to do other things, she loves to sing, read, and sip passion iced teas from Starbucks. She loves to watch God work in ordinary lives to create something extraordinary, and she writes to bring hope to those who may have lost it along the way.

You can find Lindsay Harrel online at:

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About The Secrets of Paper and Ink

Brought together by a charming bookstore in England, three women fight to defy expectations, dream new dreams, and welcome love into their lives.

As a counselor, Sophia Barrett is trained to help people cope with their burdens. But when she meets a new patient whose troubles mirror her own, she realizes she hasn’t dealt with the pain of her recent past. After making a snap decision to get away for the summer, Sophia moves overseas to an apartment above a charming bookstore in Cornwall, England. She is hopeful she will find peace there surrounded by her favorite thing: great literature.

Bookstore owner Ginny Rose is desperate to save her business without asking for help from a husband who’s decided to take a break from their marriage. Ginny never imagined she’d be solely responsible for keeping afloat her husband’s dream, but the unexpected friendship with her new renter has her feeling more optimistic. Between the two of them—and Ginny’s brother-in-law, William—the bookstore might stand a chance.

Then Sophia finds a notebook in the bookstore that contains journal entries from Emily Fairfax, a governess who lived in Cornwall more than 150 years ago. Sophia learns that Emily harbored a secret passion for becoming an authoress—as well as a deep love for her childhood friend, Edward, whose station she dared not dream to touch.

Eager to know more of Emily’s story, Sophia goes on a quest—dragging Ginny and William with her—to discover the heart of the woman behind the beautiful entries. Soon Ginny’s need to save the bookstore becomes more than a way to save her marriage, and Sophia finds new purpose of her own. Together they find that sometimes both heartache and hope can reach across the centuries.

You can find The Secrets of Paper and Ink online at:

Amazon US | Amazon AU | ChristianBook | Goodreads | Koorong

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Book Recommendation: Making Marion by Beth Moran

Making Marion by Beth Moran


An Outstanding Contemporary Christian Romance Novel

If you’ve signed up for my monthly Newsletter, you’ll already have receive my entirely biased list of 50 novels from my favourite Christian authors. Today I’m reviewing Making Marion by Beth Moran, a contemporary Christian romance novel I enjoyed for the characters, the writing, and the memories of living in England. This review previously appeared on my reviewing blog, Iola’s Christian Reads.

Book Description

(from the back cover, as there doesn’t seem to be a description on Amazon)Contemporary Christian Romance Book Recommendation - Making Marion by Beth Moran

Where’s Robin Hood when you need him?

Marion Miller comes to Sherwood Forest to uncover her father’s mysterious past. She is looking for somewhere to stay, but instead finds herself on the wrong side of the reception desk at the Peace and Pigs campsite. Despite her horrible shyness, she promptly lands herself a job working for the big-hearted and irrepressible Scarlett.

It takes all of Marion’s determination to come out of her shell and get to grips with life on a busy campsite, where even the chickens seem determined to thwart her. Then an unfortunate incident with a runaway bike throws her into the arms of the beautiful, but deeply unimpressed, Reuben.

Can Marion discover her father’s secret? And will she find peace, and perhaps even love, among the pigs?

My Review

Making Marion isn’t a novel for the ultra-conservative Christian reader. It has a distinctly British flavour in terms of language, content, and plot. Marion has a lot of issues in her past, and these are addressed through humour (like Bridget Jones) rather than angst (as used by, say, Karen Kingsbury). I found the sometimes irreverent humour made the hard parts easier to read, but some readers might find that same humour to be disrespectful or offensive.

The plot was good, and the characters, especially Marion and Scarlett were excellent, and the writing was probably the best I’ve come across from a British author, with a subtle theme of love and forgiveness. The present story was regularly interspersed with flashbacks to Marion’s past, which showed us something of the events which had shaped her, and how much she had to forgive.

Recommended for those looking for the depth of Sally Bradley and Varina Denman with the humour of Bridget Jones.