Wednesday, October 1, 2014

Review of "The Covered Deep"

Rating: 4 Stars

Review: Brandy Vallance's debut novel, "The Covered Deep," is rich with details and veiled in secrets. Faith and forgiveness are predominant themes throughout the novel. Vallance describes the Holy Land with vivid realism and gives a two-fold historical view of the area - the area's actual biblical history and the area as it would have been in the late 1870s.  The setting of the novel was definitely one of the highlights for me.  I love the opportunity to "see" places from different perspectives, especially when that perspective is from a bygone era.  "The Covered Deep" reminded me of Lisa T. Bergren's Grand Tour series with its expedition to far off lands and a dashing guide to share his knowledge.

Bianca goes on the trip searching for love, and finds herself instantly attracted to the historian, Paul. Although I am usually bothered by the two lead characters developing a romantic interest early in the novel, there are enough hindrances to their love to keep it from blossoming too soon. My opinion of both Paul and Bianca fluctuated throughout the book. I took me a few chapters to warm up to Paul's character.  Although he seemed gentlemanly, I wasn't sure if he was playing a role in Sir Adrian's underlying scheme.  Paul's character took on more depth as the plot progressed and more of his point-of-view was revealed.  I began to empathize with him, and then found myself perplexed by Bianca.  In the opening chapter, Bianca appeared as an innocent dreamer and book lover with an adventurous side yearning to see the world beyond her Kentucky home.  Her personality seemed to change midway through the novel, and some of her endearing qualities became less obvious.  It was frustrating to watch Bianca preaching forgiveness numerous times, but failing to show forgiveness.  There were times that I was quite put off by her behavior, but it ultimately brought the central themes together.

The message of "The Covered Deep" is a powerful one that gives the title true meaning.  There are a few references throughout to past sins being "covered deep" and forgiven. Vallance shows that it isn't always easy for us to practice forgiveness, whether it's forgiving ourselves or others. There is a air of mystery that lends emotional tension to the novel. When Bianca first meets her travel group in New York City, it is clear that the organizer, Sir Adrian, has an agenda and her travel mates have guarded secrets. As the story unfolds, layers of deceit and mistakes are revealed.

I finished the novel feeling a disconnect with Bianca and some of the other characters, but learning their motives and connections kept me interested. Two definite highlights were the solid lesson of faith and the well-researched and well-presented history. "The Covered Deep" is a promising debut and an interesting read for those who enjoy historical romances.

I received a complimentary copy of this book from Worthy Publishing through NetGalley. 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. 

Summary from Worthy Publishing: An incurably romantic bookworm from Appalachia wins a contest and travels to England and the Holy Land in search of the perfect romantic hero. Set in 1877.
Bianca Marshal is holding out for the perfect husband. Finding a man that meets the requirements of her “must-have” list in the foothills of the Appalachian Mountains has proven impossible. Bianca’s mama insists that there’s no such thing as a perfect true love, and that Bianca’s ideal man is pure fiction. On the eve of her twenty-fifth birthday, Bianca discovers a devastating statistic: her chance of marrying is now only eighteen percent. Unwilling to accept spinsterhood, Bianca enters an essay contest that propels her into a whirlwind search for her soulmate. Via the opulence of London and the mysteries of the Holy Land, Bianca’s true love will be revealed, but not without a heavy price.

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