Thursday, September 6, 2012

Review: The Gold Crucifix by Nickie Fleming

Born in the aftermath of Civil War to Charles Davenport, a royalist, and to Rebecca Flint, daughter of the vicar of Cherwell St. Mary, Sarah Jennings never felt she fit into her family. Her mother's favorite, she was educated better than her half-siblings were and encouraged to dream grander than they were.

When her mother dies, Sarah is left alone and uncertain of what to do next. Opportunity comes in the form of Walter Carey, current Earl of Linfield -- recently returned from his exile in France. He is impressed with this clever and beautiful girl and invites her to stay at Linfield Grange as the housekeeper.

Her idyllic life and relationship with Walter is tested when Walter's younger brother, Richard, arrives from France. And history threatens to repeat itself as Sarah is seduced by Richard's sophisticated ways.

Richard is clear that he only wants Sarah as a mistress so Sarah runs away to London where she finds work in the tavern. But not long after, she catches the eye of Charles Hart, who happens to work for Sir Thomas Killigrew of the royal theatre.

Reminiscent of Bertrice Small's Blaze Wyndham -- this is a sweeping story that takes the reader from the Civil War to Cromwell's England and finally to the Restoration and tells the story of Sarah Jennings.

It takes Sarah and Richard over a decade to discover a love that overcomes class difference. In that period, Fleming treats us to historical tidbits about the royal court, theatre life and the Great Fire of London.

This book has a lot to recommend it: it was a fascinating read. I loved how Fleming was able to blend the fictitious life of Sarah Jennings into the very historical world of Nell Gwynne and the court of Charles II. But I also have a few complaints about this book. One is that the author could have made the time transitions more clear -- this is an epic story that spans over 2 decades -- and it was a bit difficult to keep track of the year/period.

Second is I wish the writing were tighter and more focused. In some scenes, the storytelling felt like a recitation of events -- while it did its job to connect the story, I wish it were more fluid.

Lastly, while this is a historical romance novel. It focuses more on the historical aspect of the novel and reads more like historical fiction rather than romance. (Not really a complaint because I enjoy reading historical fiction as well.)

Nickie Fleming recently completed a successful virtual book tour to promote The Gold Crucifix. Read the Q&A she did for Love Saves the World here.

To find out more about Nickie Fleming and her books, visit her website. She's also on Facebook.

Disclosure: I received a review copy of this e-book from the tour organizer, Goddess Fish. Yes, this is an honest review.



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