Wednesday, February 5, 2014

"A Burning Truth" - by Joyce Proell (Reading Addiction Blog Tours)


"In 1881, the air in Chicago is rife with worker discontent, yet business titan Doyle Flanagan is hopeful for the future. He looks forward to a lifetime of peaceful bliss with Cady Delafield and leaving the wretched past behind. But his life is once again thrown into disarray when his office is vandalized and the night watchman murdered. Clues lead to a powerful organized labor movement. Targeted in the press as anti-labor and with a big rally staged next door to his offices, Doyle must uncover the culprits before his wedding plans and his livelihood go up in smoke. 

Plagued by memories of four brutal deaths, school director Cady Delafield is determined to drive the recent tragedies from her mind and enjoy being courted. Although his commanding personality threatens to overshadow her, Doyle Flanagan is the most dynamic man she’s ever met. When another tragedy unfolds placing him at the center, she takes action—action that could shatter her future."


Joyce grew up in Minnesota and attended college and grad school in Chicago. After working in mental health, she retired at a young age to write full-time. Her first book, Eliza, was published in 2012.  A Burning Truth is the second in the Cady Delafield series. When she isn’t writing mysteries or historical romances, she loves to travel, walk, read, and do crossword puzzles. She and her husband make their home in rural Minnesota in her very own little house on the prairie.

Historical fiction captures our imagination in a manner that contemporary fiction is simply unable to replicate.  We read stories of those in the past hoping to gain some understanding of the world around them which informs the world around us.  But what about when that world contains thievery, murder, and an impossible-to-please grandmother?

This is an enjoyable book written with clear knowledge of the time period and location in which it is set.  A quizzical cast of characters slightly reminiscent of those in Pride and Prejudice kept me reading as I followed Cady and her suitor, Doyle, as they attempted to figure out just what happened in his warehouse.  It is clear that Proell did her research and had fun with her characters, which made this book fun to read. 

Overall, I give this book a 3 out of 5.

The Good 
Cady is a lady that I'd like to meet.  : ) A school administrator who is an unbreakable spirit and resolve, she finds herself in a situation where her suitor, a rather well-to-do man named Doyle, seems to be at the center of some kind of conspiracy to do him in.  Employees are turning up dead.  His offices were ransacked.  People are deliberately plotting against him.  Add to this the fact that Cady comes with a rather....dramatic family and it is a wonder that Doyle wasn't written as having an ulcer from stress.

Anyway, back to Cady - she is determined to not have to be supported by a man.  Living at a time where a woman working outside the home if she had any social standing whatsoever was nearly unheard of, she rather distresses her grandmother by not only holding a job, but by seeking a living abode out from under her grandmother's obnoxious, overbearing thumb.  No one will control her, especially not Doyle.  But what will she do when helping a student finds her stuck right in the middle of the aforementioned conspiracy against Doyle?

Have I piqued your interest enough?  The two main characters were well-crafted....oh, and we get to hear the story from both of their points of view as well.  This sounds like quite the task, but Proell makes it look easy.  Text flows seamlessly between the two point of views, partly because each point of view takes turns telling a chapter.  I liked it. 

I also liked the fact that it is very clear that Proell did her research when writing this book.  Not just in a "I'm gonna look online a little and figure a few things out and then just go with it" kind of way, but in a way that actually makes it feel as though you are stepping into history a bit.  Labor union battles, local politics, etc.  If this book were a movie, it would clearly be in black-and-white.

Imagine that "Chicago" meets Pride and Prejudice meets Little Women and you kind of have the feel of this book.

The Bugly (bad/ugly)
I enjoyed this book, but also had some significant issues with it. 

First, the characters, although well-crafted, are a little flat in places.  That said, this "bugly" feels very much like it exists because this is the second in a series.  I've got a pesky feeling that their histories and back stories are developed really well in the first book (which I haven't read), and that in order to fully appreciate their situation here, one must read the first book.  This isn't generally a problem - just something to be aware of.  Not having read the first book certainly detracted from my reading here, especially as the story in the first book was constantly referenced.

Second, sentence construction awkward is in many places.  I found myself having to pause and re-read sentences with an alarming frequency.  This may just be Proell's writing style with this series, in which case it is just one that doesn't mesh incredibly well with my brain.

Third, I had a hard time really getting into this book.  It was easy for me to just put down and ignore for awhile.  I'm not saying it is a bad book, so please don't read me this way.  I'm just saying that for me it wasn't the most intriguing thing on the planet.  

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1 comment:

  1. Thanks, Nora, for hosting me today. Another big thanks to the reviewer who paid close attention to the story and had many wonderful things to say.