Friday, February 24, 2012

Review: Words Spoken True by Ann H. Gabhart


By: Ann H. Gabhart
Publisher: Revell
ISBN: 978-0-8007-2045-2

About the book:

Adriane Darcy was practically raised in her father's newspaper offices. With ink in her veins, she can't imagine life without the clatter of the press and the push to be the first to write the news that matters. Their Tribune is the leading paper in Louisville in 1855.

When Blake Garrett, a brash young editor from the North with a controversial new style of reporting, takes over a competing newspaper, the battle for reads gets fierce. After Adriane and Blake meet at a benefit, their surprising mutual attraction is hard to ignore. Still, Blake is the enemy, and Adriane is engaged to the son of a powerful businessman who holds the keys to the Tribune's future. Blake will stop at almost nothing to get the story -- and the girl.

Set against the volatile backdrop of political and civil unrest in 1850s Louisville, this exciting story of love and loyalty will hold you in its grip until the very last page.

Review:

In an era when most women were schooled in drawing room arts with an eye to making a good marriage, Adriane Darcy was practically raised in the rough-and-tumble environment of her father's newspaper offices. Adriane practically has ink flowing in her veins, fuelling her passion for the truth and getting the news to the public. When Blake Garrett, a bold editor from New York, arrives in Louisville and takes over the opposing newspaper, a war of words erupts between Blake and Adriane's father over headlines and politics, with the very future of Louisville hanging in the balance. Adriane is torn between her undeniable attraction to the interloper and loyalty to her father and their paper, but when her father's political alliances see Adriane forced into an engagement to the son of one of the city's most powerful families, her resolve to remain loyal to her father begins to waver. With her very future hanging in the balance, Adriane's fight for her freedom, her very individuality, collides with rising tensions in the volatile Louisville political climate, threatening everything she holds dear. Her father's biggest rival emerges as her greatest ally, but can she trust his motivations?

Words Spoken True marks my first time to read a novel by Gabhart, and to say I was impressed would be a bit of an understatement. *wink* I was expecting a typical historical romance, what I received instead was a novel evoking the rich history and volatile political climate of the pre-Civil War South, complete with a dash of romance and a page-turning, suspenseful murder investigation. Gabhart touches on everything from the impact of the burgeoning women's rights movement and abolition to the rise in tension between the largely Protestant population of Louisville and the influx of Catholic immigrants, both parties eager to jockey for political power and precedence. The simmering political conflict leading up the 1855 election and Bloody Monday riots is the perfect backdrop for a tale featuring warring newspapers, particularly in a time when newspapers and fiery editorials were the method of choice for informing -- and swaying -- public opinion. Add the ever-present threat of a Jack the Ripper-esque killer targeting vulnerable Irish girls, and the result is a page-turning read that richly evokes a time period not often examined in my experience when it comes to fiction.

I really loved the character of Adriane. Gabhart did an excellent job making her a strong, unique heroine grappling with societal expectations and familial pressure in a very realistic way that felt authentic to the time. Blake and his hunger for justice makes him a worthy counterpart to Adriane, and the two share a deliciously spicy attraction. However, I do wish that more time had been devoted to developing the growth of a relationship between Blake and Adriane. In a scant sixth-month time frame the two share the barest handful of face-to-face encounters, making their relationship, when political events kick into high gear in the final third of the novel, strain the bounds of credulity.

That qualm aside, in addition to Adriane and Blake Gabhart peppers their world with a host of colorful supporting characters, from the eager Irish paper boy Duff to loyal typesetter Beck, the latter Adriane's introduction to faith. I really appreciated Gabhart's fearlessness in touching on issues not often found in historical fiction of this ilk, from the effect of childhood emotional abuse to the dangers of perverted obsession. Words Spoken True is the best kind of reading surprise -- a spicy romance with an unexpectedly strong suspense thread, set against the backdrop of a city on the cusp of profound change. A memorable introduction to Gabhart's fiction, this is an author definitely on my radar now!

2 comments:

Rissi said...

MUST. READ. THIS. =)

I have read SO many good things about this novel. It had already caught my eye but reading all of these positive reviews hasn't hindered my interest. At all. ;D

Ruth said...

@Rissi - I hope you enjoy it! I love discovering new authors that deliver the goods. :)