I give this book 5 out of 5 Clamshells
Fascinated by Dierenpark, an abandoned mansion high atop a windswept cliff in the Hudson River Valley, Sophie van Riijn sees no harm in setting up a rooftop weather station for her work with the newly established Weather Bureau. While the villagers are suspicious of the mysterious estate and its tragic history, Sophie has come to see it as her own enchanted piece of paradise.
The first Vandermark to return to the area in sixty years, Quentin intends to put an end to the shadowy rumors about the property that has brought nothing but trouble upon his family. Ready to tear down the mansion, he is furious to discover Sophie trespassing on his land.
Instantly at odds, Quentin and Sophie yet find common ground when she is the only one who can reach his troubled son. There’s a light within Sophie that Quentin has never known, and a small spark of the hope that left him years ago begins to grow. But when the secrets of Dierenpark can no longer be kept in the past, will tragedy triumph or can their tenuous hope prevail?
I thoroughly enjoyed Elizabeth Camden’s “Until the Dawn.” I always love Bethany House Publishers’ books, but this is one of the best I’ve read in six months.
Things I Liked the Most
To be honest, I had tried Elizabeth Camden’s work once before, but I was turned off by the harshness of her hero in “Lady of Bolton Hill,” so I never finished that book. But some of my critique partners love Elizabeth Camden’s books, and she continues to win awards, so I decided to give her another try. I am SO glad I did! The hero in this story, also, was harsh at the beginning, but as the story progressed, he began to win me over. I’m very glad I stuck it out. He turned out to be a gentleman I could respect. (It makes me want to go back and try “Lady of Bolton Hill” again, because I’d probably have a different perspective now.)
I loved the Gothic feel of the house and the grounds, which are practically characters themselves. And I was intrigued with the Beauty and the Beast archetypes. That is something I’ve wanted to experiment with in my own writing but haven’t yet, so it was fun to see how someone else explored the idea.
Besides those things, I loved the spiritual themes of renewal and faith. Faith that there is a loving God even if you can’t see or touch Him, and renewal of life–after trials, after death, after heartache, etc. The dawn always comes again. What a beautiful theme to include in a story.
Things I Didn’t Like Much
Really, the only thing I didn’t fall in love with was their romance. I did believe they were equally matched, but I didn’t feel the chemistry as I would’ve hoped. I wanted to be swept away by Quinten as he learned to love, and I wanted to feel the transformation of Sophie’s love for Quinten, the only man who ever believed in her. And it was almost there, but I found myself wishing for more scenes centered on those emotional transformations between them, and less scenes centered on their pre-transformed personas. I felt like a few of the scenes with Martin, her previous fiancé who jilted her, were a bit superfluous, and Quinten could’ve easily been prompted to love Sophie through other scenes. However, while the romance wasn’t as emotionally deep as I would’ve wanted, everything else about the book was riveting for me.
I would definitely recommend this book. Elizabeth Camden did a great job, and I’ll be checking out her back list promptly.
I received this book free from the publisher in return for my honest review.