Saturday, April 13, 2013

Her Good Name by Ruth Axtell

book review of Her Good Name by Ruth Axtell

Her Good Name by Ruth Axtell

In the 1890 thriving coastal town of Holliston, Maine, the leading lumber baron's son, Warren Brentwood, III, returns from his years away at college and traveling to take up his position as heir apparent to his father's business empire.

Esperanza Estrada is the daughter of a Portuguese immigrant fisherman who has grown up surrounded by a brood of brothers and sisters and a careworn mother. Unable to pretend she is anything but "one of those Estradas," Espy has no chance with Warren, no matter  how striking she is. When she overhears of a position to clean house at a local professor's home on Elm Street, she jumps at the opportunity, hoping to be able to run into Warren Brentwood now and again as well as to imbibe the cultural and intellectual atmosphere of the Stocktons.

When rumors about Espy and this respected, married gentleman of the community begin to circulate, the entire church congregation and then the community pronounce judgment on her behavior. The man Espy is in love with, Warren, believes the lie and his loss of faith in her causes Espy to give up without a fight. She leaves her family and hometown for the nearest city with little money and no acquaintances and is forced to spend the night on the street. A man who heads a mission for the homeless finds Espy and offers her shelter. Espy finds the true love of God while working at the mission. Will she be able to forgive the townspeople and return home?

A working class girl in the late 1800s falls for a wealthy lumber baron's son from a higher social class, Warren has newly returned from travelling abroad and is preparing to take over the family lumber business. One Sunday afternoon after church the pastor asks him to start up a young peoples group and suggests that Espy help him. they become good friends until her good name is smeared around town and Warren believes the rumours. Epsy runs off to a nearby town, trying to forget about Warren. He finds she's had an effect on him as well and is unable to forget about her. Class distinction and family duty stand between them. How could anything more happen?

I loved how Ruth Axtell wove this enchanting tale, not rushing through but definitely keeping my interest with all the new situations and difficulties that arise. For both characters there is the tension between doing what is expected of you by your family and doing what you feel God is calling you to do. This is especially difficult for Warren. He feels he has no choice but to aqiesse to his family's hopes and plans. Espy, for her part, isn't content to work the rest of her life at the cannery or some other job where her brain isn't an asset. Nor is she going to marry someone with no ambition beyond the small borders of the seedy neighbourhood she lives in.

Once Espy leaves town things get very interesting. God is working in mysterious ways and the ending seems organic and entirely possible, but definitely unexpected. There are much deeper ideas woven into this story than in any typical Christian romance.

Ruth Axtell is one of my new favourite authors and I will be watching for her next book. I would certainly recommend this book!

I received a copy of this book from Moody Publishers for the purpose of an honest review. My opinion is my own. Thank you Moody Publishers.

Read an excerpt here.

Click here for more information on Her Good Name from Moody Publishers.

About Ms. Ruth Axtell
RUTH AXTELL has published 13 romances under the name Ruth Axtell Morren with Steeple Hill/Love Inspired Books. She will have a single title regency out in March 2013 for Baker/Revell Books. Her books have been translated into Dutch, Italian, Polish, Czech and Afrikaans. She was a Golden Heart finalist in 1994. Her second published book, Wild Rose, was a Booklist "Top Ten Christian Fiction" selection in 2005. She is a member of ACFW (American Christian Fiction Writers) and RWA (Romance Writers of America). Ruth studied comparative literature at Smith College with a concentration in French and English literature, and spent her junior year in Paris. Since then she has lived in the Netherlands and the Canary Islands. Shortly after college, she committed her life to Christ. Fourteen years later, she committed her writing to Him. Currently, Ruth lives on the down east coast of Maine with her three children and two cats. She enjoys the challenge of vegetable and flower gardening in a cool, foggy climate, long walks, reading and doing historical research for her novels.

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