Monday, October 24, 2011

Review of Refuge on Crescent Hill by Melanie Dobson

Rating: 4 Stars
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Synopsis from Kregel Publications: This homecoming wasn’t what she expected . . .
Jobless, homeless, and broke, Camden Bristow decides to visit the grandmother she hasn’t seen in years. But when Camden arrives in Etherton, Ohio, she discovers that her grandmother has passed away, leaving her the 150-year-old mansion on Crescent Hill. The site of her happiest summers as a child, the run-down mansion is now her only refuge.

When Camden finds evidence that she may not be the mansion’s only occupant, memories of Grandma Rosalie’s bedtime stories about secret passageways and runaway slaves fuel her imagination. What really happened at Crescent Hill? Who can she turn to for answers in this town full of strangers? And what motivates the handsome local Alex Yates to offer his help? As she works to uncover the past and present mysteries harbored in her home, Camden uncovers
deep family secrets within the mansion’s walls that could change her life—and the entire town—forever.

Click Here to read an excerpt! 

Review: The cover of Melanie Dobson's novel, Refuge on Crescent Hill, evokes the mysterious aura that lingers, almost tangibly, until the last page.  The grand home on Crescent Hill is a primary character in the novel, and she shines with a faded beauty through the dust and peeling paint. Dobson speaks of Crescent Hill in rich detail, drawing the reader in to uncover its past and present secrets. Each of the main and secondary characters is somehow tied to the house, and their lives entwine in unexpected ways.  Like any good suspense, there are good guys, bad guys, victims, and heroes.  There is little mystery as to who is good and who is bad; their loyalties are fairly clear from the beginning of the novel.  Dobson tells the story from several different perspectives: Camden Bristow, Alex Yates, Jake Paxton, and Stephanie Ellison-Carter.  Each chapter is comprised of various scenes, each told from the viewpoint of a different main character.  A scene often ends right before something is revealed,  which moves the plot at a steady pace to keep the reader interested. 

As a fan of historic homes and history, the setting of this novel is the highlight for me.  Although the plot is modern day, its focus on the past provides just the right amount of historic elements.  The connection of the house to the Underground Railroad differentiates the Refuge on Crescent Hill from other novels.  I've read books set during the Civil War and the years of slavery, but have seen little mention of the Underground Railroad.  It is inspiring to read about the sacrifices the families made in the quest and fight for freedom.  I enjoyed looking at the photos of the real house that inspired the story on Melanie Dobson's website. 

The romance element is quite small in this novel.  It is primarily a mystery, but is also story about love and sacrifice.  There is ultimately romantic interest between Camden and Alex, but the development of their relationship is not a primary focus.  There were moments in the story that I wanted more depth.  I did not feel entirely connected to the characters, but I enjoyed this book nonetheless.  Refuge on Crescent Hill is a page-turner until the end. 
About the Author: Melanie Dobson is the award-winning author of The Black Cloister; Love Finds You in Liberty, Indiana; and Together for Good. A former corporate publicity manager at Focus on the Family, Melanie has worked in the fields of journalism and publicity for more than eighteen years. She and her family live in Oregon.

I received a complimentary copy of this book from Kregel Publications.  I was not required to write a positive review. The opinions expressed above are my own. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s 16 CFR, Part 255 “Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising.”

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