The Captive Heart By Michelle Griep
(Note – The cover illustration pictured is pending approval and may not match final copy)
Published By Barbour Publishing, Inc./ Shiloh Run Press October 1, 2016
Genres: Christian, Romance
Rating: 5 out of 5 stars
Proper English governess Eleanor Morgan flees to the colonies to escape the wrath of a brute of an employer. When the Charles Town family she’s to work for never arrives to collect her from the dock, she is forced to settle for the only reputable choice remaining to her—marriage to a man she’s never met. Trapper and tracker Samuel Heath is a hardened survivor used to getting his own way by brain or by brawn, and he’s determined to find a mother for his young daughter. But finding a wife proves to be impossible. No upstanding woman wants to marry a murderer.
Michelle Griep brings her latest book to life with excellent writing and a story that hits the ground running from page one. This story of forgiveness, danger, trust and a journey to find love that was never expected, engaged me fully and made me want to read it again after just finishing the last page.
English Governess Eleanor Morgan is sailing to the colonies to get beyond the long reach of her attacker and former employer, the Duke of Brougham. Having been robbed of both coin and references early on in her journey, Eleanor arrives in the new land with only the clothes on her back and no way to prevent her being sold to Mr. Beebright to become wife to Samuel Heath. Her outrage quickly gives way to fear that she might not survive in this wild land where there is so much solitude and danger at every turn. Ms. Griep created a superb character in Eleanor, who shows most vividly the fears that anyone in a new situation might face – fear of rejection, fear of what will be asked of them, and fear of being unloved. Eleanor’s fear of rejection stems from her father’s neglect growing up and his anger that she would not allow him to prostitute her for payment to his creditors; and as she develops feelings for Samuel she only hears the words of her father in her mind telling her “You’ll never aspire to anything higher than a trollop, girl”. These words will prove to be one of many hurdles Samuel will have to overcome to win the love of his Red Bird. He must also contend with the hateful words that Angus McDivitt whispers to Eleanor whenever near and the rumors of murder that still follow him a year after his first wife’s death. In Eleanor, Ms Griep also addresses the fear of what might be asked of someone in a new place. When she arrives at her new home with Samuel and his toddler daughter Grace, Eleanor is shocked at the small size and lack of comfort. With little furniture and only one bed, Eleanor cannot imagine how she will make this sad space into a proper home for Grace to grow up in. Samuel has married her in name only and asks that she care for and educate Grace in the ways of manners and decorum, often leaving her alone for days at a time as he works as a tracker for the British officers in town. Having so little at her disposal in the way of knowledge of rustic living, Eleanor often feels discouraged and out of sorts and I love how Ms Griep allows her to work through each problem she faces within the pages of the story. I was pulled further and further into the story as the pages past and could almost hear the roar of the bear Eleanor, and later Samuel, faced and feel the heat of the fire that sweeps through the woods in the later part of the book. Further, Ms Griep used Eleanor’s last fear of being unloved in her life to show the importance of trusting God for true acceptance and the ability to love others fully. By seeing that true love means care and provision instead of forced compliance of demands and that one must forgive themselves in order to forgive others, Eleanor is able to accept the love that God, Samuel and Grace offer. And in Samuel’s case Eleanor is able to reach out a hand of healing and love that Samuel has not experienced since his mother died. Samuel also battles with his own demons of past mistakes which have left him scarred outwardly and inwardly. I really loved how Ms Griep used Eleanor to show Samuel that the rumors spread about him are not the truth of what happened from an eye-witness, rather they are the spiteful mutterings of those who would pass judgement without pausing to learn the facts. Samuel’s learning to forgive himself and what real love looks like was one of my favorite parts of this story. He had so much guilt and rage built up over the circumstances of his wife’s last days and death that he couldn’t see how anyone could love him as the man he is. Ms Griep uses these two flawed characters to demonstrate the healing power of forgiveness and the incredible joy and peace that comes from following as God leads.
There were two other things I really enjoyed in this story – the inclusion of real history and the words and phrases of the Cherokee language. The Revolutionary War is one of my favorite periods of American history to study and I applaud the way Ms. Griep included so many historical facts in her story. Having Samuel be the grandson of The Beloved Man – Attakulakula – was an excellent way to ensure that he would be part of the village meetings when the treaties were discussed between the British and Native Americans in the Cherokee village of Keowee. And by having him be part Cherokee, Samuel was able to show the dilemma that many in the colonies faced – which side to choose when faced with war. I also was pleased to see the inclusion of words and phrases of the Cherokee people. Samuel calls Eleanor both “Tatsu’hwa” which means Red Bird and “Uwoduhi Atsiyehi” meaning Beautiful Wife in Cherokee and has adopted the name of “Ya-nu” which means Bear after saving his friend Inoli from a bear attack. There are many other phrases and words included and it was fun for me to sound those out while reading. It is a different and courageous tool to use other languages in telling a story and Ms Griep does this in such a way that the Cherokee language adds to the story rather than interrupts it . Her inclusion of the Cherokee language also shows her dedication to making the story as real and close to history as a fictional story can get. I look forward to reading more from this author and will most definitely be putting this story on my list of books to purchase and to recommend.
This E-book was provided to me by Barbour Publishing, Inc./Shiloh Run Press through NetGalley in exchange for a fair and honest review. I will receive no fiscal compensation from either company for this review.