I used to read a lot of LDS romance books. Really. When LDS novels first appeared on the scene, that is almost all there was to read. They were shallow, sappy and cheesy stories. When I go back and reread some of them I find them poorly written and I wonder what it was about them that I enjoyed so much when I was younger. I think as a youth I enjoyed them because there was that storybook ending where everyone joined the church, the boy got the girl and everyone lived happily ever after. Isn't that what every young girl dreams of? And considering there were no eligible LDS boys where I grew up having my crush join the church and us living happily ever after would have been wonderful. I guess. What do I know, I was a teen. But now I look back with the eyes of life experience and wisdom.
I can see that life is not a rose petal strewn path to happiness where everything works out in the end. And that some of the things that you loved as a youth are different as an adult. Time and things as well as people change. Circumstances are not always what you want them to be. Dreams don't always come true. And happily ever after isn't always happily or ever after. Young Adult girls grow up to be women and put away some of their childhood things and do the things that adults are supposed to do- cleaning, wiping noses, putting the cat out, turning out the lights, being responsible. But in the secret room in her heart the woman still believes in the fairytale where dreams do come true and happily ever after is not just a story, but a fact of life.
Annette Lyon writes LDS historical fiction. I had not read any of her books before because I stopped reading "romance" books. Especially LDS romance- too silly and the characters are flat and the endings were always too neat and tidy for me. However, I do read Annette's blog, The Lyon's Tale. While I love everything about Annette's blog, I love WNW (word nerd Wednesday) the best. Annette takes the time each Wednesday to explain something about grammar to her readers. When I got the chance to be part of Annette's blog tour for the release of her new book, I said yes. And I am glad I did.
Tabitha never let go of her dream to create a family. It wasn't the family that she thought it would be when she was dreaming of her happily ever afters. But she was willing to rewrite the fairytale and include new characters in her story. Sam also did not get the family that inhabited his dreams. He too had to recreate his story and include new characters. They both had to learn to open up the secret room in their hearts, knowing that they could be hurt and damaged yet again. The path they walked was strewn with not just rose petals, but thorns as well. But they chose to walk it anyway. They both learned to be strong and how to create a new life by relying on that strength. Then they learned how to rely on each other when that strength was not enough. Together they learned that with the strength of the Lord they can withstand anything.
The story takes place in Manti, Utah in 1884. The historical backdrop is the building of the LDS Manti temple. One thing I love about the way Annette writes is the fact that while her history is correct, and things happen in the book that happened in real life, the history is not the book. It does not take over the book, it is just the setting for the story. Tower of Strength could be set in any other city and still be just as strong and just as good. The romance is not sappy or silly. Tabatha and Sam do not do the silly things couples usually do in romance novels. They are friends first and foremost. They work together and help each other. And it is ok that Sam is not always the strong one, the all knowing one but has to rely on Tabatha to help him figure out some things. That was my favorite part. They are equal partners in their relationship.
I enjoyed this book enough that I will now be reading the rest of Annette's temple series.
General Book Information
Covenant Communications $15.95,
First Printing March 2009
Smells are a part of this book- Tabatha smells like roses and ink, Sam hates the smell of the horse barn and longs for the smell of the wood in his carpentry shop. I created two fragrances for this book. One for Tabatha that smells of a rose garden on a summer evening and one for Sam that has deep woodsy overtones. If you would like to purchase products scented with these fragrances, shoot me an e-mail.