Violet Hawthorne is beyond mortified when her brother Ezra turns their deceased parents' New England country inn into a brothel to accommodate the nearby lumberjacks; but when Violet's own reputation is compromised, the inn becomes the least of her worries.
In an effort to salvage her good name, Violet is forced into an engagement with a taciturn acquaintance; Vance Everstone. As she prepares for a society wedding, Violet learns that her brother had staked her hand in marriage in a heated poker game with the unsavory Rowen Steele, and Ezra had lost. Now Rowen is determined to cash in on his IOU. With danger stalking her and a new fiance who hides both his emotion and his past, Violet must decide who to trust and who to leave behind.
That's a name that conjures up a lot of feelings ... and none of them positive. In Dawn Crandall's superb The Bound Heart, Vance is basically the villain, the road block between Meredyth and Lawry's happily ever after. (Yes, Vance does redeem himself a bit in the third book, The Captive Imposter, but as The Bound Heart is far and away my favorite in the series, that's the Vance I tend to remember.)
How could he possibly be redeemed ... and even made heroic?
Well, Crandall did it—Vance Everstone now rivals Lawry Hampton as my favorite Everstone Chronicles hero. So what's the difference between "old Vance" and "new Vance?"
A life surrendered to Jesus Christ.
Vance is a powerful example of 2 Corinthians 5:17: Therefore if any man be in Christ, he is a new creature: old things are passed away; behold, all things are become new. (KJV) No, Vance doesn't become perfect, but he actively fights his sin nature—often succeeding, sometimes failing. (Isn't that just like each of us?)
Beyond the "new Vance" and his character arc, I also loved the relationship between Vance and Violet. They have such chemistry, and the build up to their first kiss and the first kiss itself are wholly satisfying. I also—mostly—thought the obstacles to their love were realistic.
While some of Violet's actions puzzled me and the buildup to the showdown with Rowen Steele dragged on a bit too long, I still absolutely recommend The Cautious Maiden to fans of romance. This is a book that will captivate you from the beginning and leave you sighing in happiness at the end. 4 stars.
Buy the book.
Read my reviews of The Hesitant Heiress (4 stars), The Bound Heart (5 stars), and The Captive Imposter (4 stars).
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Apart from writing, Dawn is also a mom of two little ones and serves with her husband in a premarital mentorship program at their local church in Fort Wayne, Indiana.
A graduate of Taylor University with a degree in Christian Education and a former bookseller at Barnes & Noble, Dawn Crandall didn't begin writing until 2010 when her husband found out about her long-buried dream. It didn't take her long to realize that writing books was what she was made to do.
Dawn is a member of the American Christian Fiction Writers, the secretary for the Indiana ACFW Chapter (Hoosier Ink), and an associate member of the Great Lakes ACFW Chapter. She is represented by Joyce Hart of Hartline Literary Agency.
Disclosure of Material Connection: I received this book free from the publisher. I was not required to write a positive review, and the opinions I have expressed are my own. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission's 16 CFR, Part 255: "Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising."