Rating: 4 Stars
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Review: Reading a novel by a new author is always an exciting prospect. Sometimes the excitement fades and disappointment sets in; other times the pages reveal a fresh voice full of promise. "Bleeding Heart" is a promising debut, and Amber Stokes treats readers to a poignant tale of heartache and healing. As the title and synopsis suggest, broken hearts are the central focus, so this is not a traditional light-hearted romance. The plot is unpredictable, and Stokes takes risks by incorporating some tragic events that will leave readers emotionally shaken. Five battered characters make a heavy load for one novel to carry, but "Bleeding Heart" is successful. Stokes intersects the lives of each character in a story centering around Sally Clay, while giving each individual a unique source of pain and different ways of coping.
The ending of "Bleeding Heart" is more hopeful than completely happy. Hope balances the pain that is present in the novel. Sally, in particular, represents healing and forgiveness. Although her story is sad, it is ultimately uplifting. Stokes depicts two kinds of bleeding hearts throughout her novel, both a human's broken heart and the actual flower. She shows readers that hearts can become darkened and bitter, but those hearts that allow love to heal them can become as beautiful as a bleeding heart's blossom. The cover captures the overall essence of "Bleeding Heart" - the peace and beauty that arise when a heart heals from devastating wounds.
Although the subject matter of "Bleeding Heart" is heavy, I did not feel burdened by it. The novel is an engaging and worthwhile read that reminds me of Alison Pittman's "Crossroads of Grace" series in the non-formulaic plot and the portrayal of soiled doves on the road to redemption. Amber Stokes shows undeniable talent for crafting a touching and memorable story, and I hope that "Bleeding Heart" is just the beginning of many more novels.
I received a complimentary ARC copy of this book from Amber Stokes. I was not required to write a positive review. The opinions expressed above are my own.
Sally Clay’s livelihood has been snatched away, but in its place arises an opportunity to escape from her sordid past and an unrelenting, unwanted suitor. Boarding a train with a heartsick rancher and an enigmatic miner, she leaves Virginia City behind and heads to Northern California, waiting for the chance to make right what went wrong three long years before.
But the road to revenge is far from smooth. Sally soon learns that the jagged pieces of a broken heart can far too easily wound the hearts of others – and hers isn’t the only heart that’s broken. Tragedy and fear dog her steps as she flees from the redwood forests to the high desert and back again. Will her bleeding heart ever find a way and a place to heal?
A desperate soiled dove. Three men who come to care for her. One man determined to claim her.
All on a journey that will show them what true love really involves.
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