Sentence of Marriage by Shayne Parkinson. Available at Smashwords.com.
Summary: “In 19th Century New Zealand, there are few choices for a farm girl like Amy. Her life seems mapped out for her by the time she is twelve. Amy dreams of an exciting life in the world beyond her narrow boundaries. But it is the two people who come to the farm from outside the valley who change her life forever, and Amy learns the high cost of making the wrong choice. Book 1 of “Promises to Keep”.”
Historical fiction is one of my favorite genres, and a great historical fiction novel with an intelligent female protagonist never fails to float my boat. Sentence of Marriage is a novel about a girl who gets herself into trouble over a boy, and you’ll be shocked at the lengths she has to go to make everything right. This book is first in a series.
I’m no history buff, but everything in the novel rings true for 19th century country life. In the beginning, emphasis is placed on Amy’s everyday activities around her family’s farm. This provides a necessary backdrop for understanding the conflicts she has with her stepmother, and it’s also just plain interesting. I easily became immersed in this story and era, and I didn’t put the book down at all for the last hundred pages. It goes to show that even though social customs change over the years, human nature hasn’t; the issues Amy faces are easy for today’s readers, especially women, to relate to.
I think readers of all ages will enjoy this book. There are one or two adult situations but nothing gratuitous, and nothing that isn’t shown on Fox anyway.
The Bottom Line: As good of a window to the past as Little House on the Prarie, but a much, much jucier and more compelling story. I bought the second book in the series immediately upon finishing this one.