This review is for the Virtual Book Tour for Romancing Olive by Holly Bush.
Holly will be awarding a $25 Amazon GC to a randomly drawn commenter during the tour so make sure to visit her other stops and comment! For links, click here. ^_^
Where do we discover our true selves?
Olive Wilkins found herself and her true calling in Spencer, Ohio -- far from the bustling and busy city of Philadelphia where she lives and works as a librarian.
She's in Spencer to fetch her nephew and niece, orphaned and abandoned after their parents murder. She arrives in Spencer with a plan and she's so confident of herself and her abilities that the reality of the situation that she found shocks her to her core: her brother and his family haven't been living a picture-perfect life on their farm. Olive finds out her brother was a gambler and his wife was an alcoholic who had been using her body to support their lifestyle. When they died, the children were abandoned and the kindhearted Jacob Butler took them in, despite his own personal problems.
With that revelation, Olive's whole perception of the world tumbles down around her -- and she has to face the cold reality: her nephew, John, has been traumatized by the murder and refuses to speak -- and her niece, Mary, is angry and wary of strangers. And both feel safer with Jacob Butler than with her, their aunt.
Still, Olive is determined to fix the situation -- she decides to stay with Jacob Butler's family and hopes she can change John and Mary's minds but, what Olive doesn't count on, is how much the situation would change her as well.
I loved this story. I think Jacob and Olive are wonderful, normal, everyday people who are challenged by their circumstances -- but their actions and the decisions make them heroic.
Jacob is an amazing hero. He lost his wife, the love of his life, and his youngest child has a birth defect, but, instead of wallowing in self pity, he's single-handedly taking care of his family. And he goes out of his way to take care of his neighbors' children -- even when he has no familial obligation to do so. Jacob's very honest about who he is and what he wants -- when Olive arrives, all high-and-mighty, he could have shut the door in her face -- but he was understanding and patient with her.
I had the impression that Olive was like Mary Poppins but Olive's "magic" doesn't come from outside of her but from within -- she never gave up hope and she realized that she was capable of loving people. As a spinster, Olive had resigned herself to that life but living in Spencer, with the Butlers, has opened Olive's eyes to the possibility of a different life.
"...Life is slipping away from us as we speak and I refuse to let another second of my life go by without some pleasure for myself," Olive replied.
Theda's look of shock and confusion was nearly comical.
"But Olive, we're spinsters. We always will be spinsters. Pleasure is not a pursuit meant for women like us."
"What are women like us meant for?" Olive asked quickly.
- p. 194
The strongest emotional resonance, for me, came from the conversations between Theda and Olive when Theda came over to Spencer for a visit. I think the confrontation between Olive's old life and the new one she is about to embark on is a cathartic experience for both women. (See Chapter 10)
This was a wonderful, uplifting romance and I'm glad to have had the chance to read it. ^_^
Disclosure: Review copy was provided by Goddess Fish Promotions. Many thanks to the author and to Goddess Fish for the opportunity. And, yes, this is an honest review.
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About the book:
Jacob saw misery and guilt and worry line her face as the shadows of night descended and she shook her head. “It wasn’t your doing. And it’s not your fault,” he said.
Miss Wilkins met his eyes and declared softly, “Whose fault is it then? Who more than their blood relatives? I failed them.”
Jacob watched a shiver run through her. “Are you chilled?” he asked.
“No, Mr. Butler, I’m not chilled. I’m angry.”
“Anger doesn’t solve things. Sometimes nothing does. Except time.”
“But I could have come sooner,” Olive Wilkins said and stepped back from him, fists clenched. “Why didn’t I Mr. Butler? I’ll tell you why. I’ve lived my life; my whole thirty-five years reading books and watching other people live their life. And now, here, those children bear the brunt of it. I buried my nose in a book and my house and my cat and failed them miserably. I made quilts for charity’s and ignored the questions and the doubts I had. I painted a picture of domestic tranquility and never dreamt these children were living, do you hear me, Mr. Butler, living a Dickens tale.”
Jacob’s head inched back with her near hysteria, as she asked and answered her own questions and he knew there was nothing to convince her otherwise. He watched as she calmed herself, righted her dress and shook her head.
“All you can do now, Miss Wilkins, is love them and maybe the past will right it’s self,” he said.
“Yes, of course you’re right. I’m terribly sorry you witnessed my outburst.” Olive Wilkins turned and walked to the porch.
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More about the author:
To find out more about Holly and her books, visit:
Her website: www.hollybushbooks.com
Holly is on Twitter - @hollybushbooks and on Facebook.