Monday, October 31, 2016

Book Review: "The Cautious Maiden" by Dawn Crandall

Reading a romance set in the Victorian era is delicious, isn't it? You have the propriety and decorum, the watchful, well-meaning eyes, and the desire that heats up despite so many ingrained societal precautions. It's a delight to watch love blossom in such stuffy surroundings.

Dawn Crandall's "The Cautious Maiden" is set in Victorian New England; first, uniquely, in the state of Maine, then in the more familiar streets of late 19th century Boston. Her heroine, Violet, also unique, begins the story as a single working woman, refreshingly uninterested in marriage.

The action begins on page one, when Violet's dastardly brother upends her life by destroying her reputation and putting her at risk. The rakish and complicated hero, Vance, comes to her rescue by offering to become engaged to her. A generous offer in one sense, since reputation mattered so much in this culture. But there is a cost. He was a rogue in his past, and Violet is as pure as they come. She sees the change in him since his conversion (the theology in this section is excellent) and is agreeable to the arrangement. What unsettles her is not knowing if he actually loves her. This is the tension that carries the reader through the narrative until the pace picks up again with the appearance of the villain--and just when you thought things would be tied up nicely.

Vance is a romance reader's dream love interest. At times seeming too good to be true, he takes hold of the reader and doesn't let go until he makes a mistake near the end of the plot. Though Violet has spent weeks assuring him she forgives his past, now she must forgive his present.

He is believably amorous, given his past, but his burgeoning faith demands he protect her chastity and her dignity. One characterization I appreciated was Violet's over-confidence in her own self-control. For the reader who has learned that lesson the hard way, it was good to watch her stumble and right herself in this matter.

Though these two characters clearly desire one another almost from the beginning, Crandall skillfully walks the line between love and lust. Violet's wanderings and doubts about Vance's feelings grow tiresome at times, but young readers especially need a heroine who knows the difference between love and lust, and that one does not equate with the other. Crandall offers an excellent analogy, comparing courtship to riding. "Let him gain your trust," Vance tells Violet when she's on a horse for the first time, "and you'll need to trust him at the same time."

Trust turns out to be a challenge for them both. "Sinner" and "saint" alike find themselves wounded and needing to apologize to regain the other's trust.

Regular readers of Christian fiction should enjoy this 4th book in the series (but fully capable of being a stand-alone book!).

Many thanks to the publisher for this ARC. All thoughts in this review are my own.

Dawn Crandall is an ACFW Carol Award-nominated author of the award winning series The Everstone Chronicles, which consists of four books: The Hesitant Heiress, The Bound Heart, The Captive Imposter and The Cautious Maiden which released October 4th, 2016.
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.

Be sure to visit Dawn on her websiteFacebook page, or Twitter
Don't forget to click here to enter Dawn's amazing Rafflecoptor giveaway!
She has two prize packs (aren't they gorgeous!!), and the deadline to enter is November 4.


  1. Dawn, we're so honored that you stopped by! Those give away sets looks absolutely lovely!

    1. I don't know why that got published as 'unknown' LOL


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