Sunday, November 17, 2013

An Untamed Heart by Lauraine Snelling

An Untamed Heart by Lauraine Snelling An Untamed Heart by Lauraine Snelling. Bethany House, 2013. 348p. (9780764202032) Series: Red River of the North, Prequel

When I was done I jotted down a few quick thoughts before turning out my light and one of those thoughts was it’s “almost as if this was a prequel telling us Ingeborg’s story.” And I was completely right, I just didn’t know it.

Make sure you understand that this is a prequel before starting the book, because otherwise it’ll really drag and you’ll dislike the ending – it’s such an abnormal romance novel ending. But if you’re familiar with the series then I suspect you know what happens.

Goodreads Summary:
Twenty-year-old Ingeborg Strand is certain she is destined to be an old maid. She's had several suitors but none she deemed worthy of spending her life with. That is, until she meets a university student from Oslo, and feelings stronger than friendship begin to develop between them. But tragedy strikes, and the future begins to look bleaker than ever.

Grief settles heavily over Ingeborg, and her mother suggests that she leave Norway and start afresh in America, as so many others have done before her. But how will she accomplish that with little money and no one to accompany her?

It isn't long before she meets Roald Bjorklund, a widower who has been planning to go to America for some time, lured by the promise of free land. He's a good man, a hard-working man--and he has a young son who desperately needs a mother. He's clearly interested in Ingeborg, but is he the answer to her prayers? And what about love? This isn't how she's always imagined it.
Ingeborg Strand has a heartrending decision to make...

My Review:
I have not read the Red River of the North series, I’m not familiar with them at all actually. Each book has a 4+ average rating on Goodreads, so they must be good. All that to say I think it’d be better if you were familiar with the series before reading this book.

I thought the pace of the overall story was slow and steady except for Nils’ accidents, but the speed of time passing varied quite a bit. The author lingered over the first summer up at the seter and then the rest of year passed fairly quickly until the next summer and that one flew by in a few paragraphs. And the conclusion felt rather sudden and some things never were resolved. (Example: Why did her mom seem to dislike her? I thought Ingeborg was making too big a deal over that at times, but the author kept bringing it up.)

When I started the book it’d been a while since I read a summary or another blogger’s review but my vague idea of what the book was about – Ingeborg possibly having to marry a widower with a baby and go to America was very misleading. That choice doesn’t arrive until the last few chapters and in the mean time we learn a ton about Norwegian farming practices.
Image source: A real seter
Which was quite interesting but not what I was expecting. The explanations of cheese making and life up at the seter were a bit too much in depth but it does give you a very good idea of a farmer’s family’s life in Norway in the late 1800s. In case you’re wondering, a seter is a cabin up in the mountains with fields nearby for the sheep and cows to graze and the teens and kids live up there alone all summer making cheese, sheering sheep, carding, spinning and weaving the wool, making hay, and doing all the farm chores necessary to care for the sheep and themselves. It reminded me of Heidi’s grandfather’s home in the Alps in a way.

If you love the Red River series then I’m guessing you’ll want to read this book, and if you want to learn more about rural life in Norway in the 1800s this would be a good choice.

3 stars - it's a fluff book - no real substance, but a fun read
3.5 stars

Disclosure: I received this book for free from the publisher via NetGalley. I was not required to write a positive review. The opinions I have expressed are my own. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission.

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