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Bleeding Heart by Amber Stokes


 About the Book:
Author: Amber Stokes
Publication Date: 2013
Find the review elsewhere: 
Publisher: Seasons of a Story (Self-Publishing via Amazon Kindle)
 Genre: Fiction; Historical, Christian
Rating: 4 out of 5
 Over the years, self-publishing has had a stigma attached to it. Why, I do not know – in the past six months I, as an avid reader have turned pages on a handful of self-published novels, and have found each one to be worth the paper on which they were printed. This one is different since it is authored by a lovely writer whom I have been honored to get to know certainly as an encouraging blogging buddy and as a friend. Amber sets her story in Oregon in the early 1800’s and on top of a setting she is passionate about (and researched), she also crafted a hard-hitting novel involving characters that are broken in unusual ways – imperfect beyond the “normal” character flaws readers usually encounter. The heroine is Sally Clay, a woman no longer a lady who was left to make her way in the world when the man she thought she loved spurns her for better prospects. Over the timespan of many months, Sally’s life becomes entangled with Joe and Seth Clifton – brothers with broken hearts of their own, and an Irish immigrant named Myghal.

As a blogger, the author has a very sweet personality in her communication with fellow authors and people, and yet she is always able to illuminate her opinion in an easily understood approach. This gift of hers transitioned into her first foray into fiction, with genuinely lovely results. Like any good author, Amber cares about her characters – from its five titular characters to a big-hearted cook in a logging camp, no one is forgotten. In Sally, we meet a woman who didn’t think she was worthy of a good life or pure love, and we sorrow with her over the anguish she experiences. Sally is ultimately who the story revolves around; she represents a pinnacle of what forgiveness in love means in the most tender way – not just by her being her own worst critic, also from her peers and in the most heartbreaking, unpredictable ways (in Joe’s acceptance and protection if not love, and Myghal’s secreted ardor) but from God. This is one of the driving points that ties into the epilogue, one that is comfortable and sunny – something that means more because of the journey. Perhaps the most interesting parts of the book is first, that each of the characters are broken after being ill-used by someone they thought trustworthy, and secondly the unexpected elements that take the story in unusual places.

In particular, all of the souls in need of forgiveness was thought-provoking as authors don’t usually tackle this much anger or sorrow in one group of characters; a story may deal with emotional fallout in “big” ways, just not the characters all individually though most do generally feature at least one character who is at peace with their past. There is one of these “bleeding hearts” who haven’t been trampled on by love; their hearts have been shattered – and still are! – and each is reacting differently in their present. To be honest, I think that in order to fit better with the pacing, it’d have been more impactful to limit the number of people who are in need of healing. This novel is shorter than most (which I don’t mind in the least) and with the time jumps (also, something Amber did well), this presents a problem with pacing considering that most “average” books struggle with getting the time frame “just right.” Addressing the things that will undoubtedly take a reader by surprise, let me just say – wow! There was one pivotal event that I never expected. The author handled it expertly well and used it to the stories advantage instead of letting it drag down what was a compelling plot.

Even though I cannot say that the setting was a favorite or that everything “clicked” (the mood swings of the villain or the “convenient” emotional fallout in the aftermath of a death of a character we never meet), I can say that Bleeding Heart was a sincerely poignant and purposeful story. In this book, any avid history buff will find a western treasure; the “voice” is profoundly genuine and unique, and is not a book you want miss out on journeying through - it's one I know will find a permanent place on my shelf, virtual and actual. Bleeding Heart is not just a “pretty face,” it has a picturesque realism – just be prepared, you may need a tissue or two!
 
Read more about Amber in Dreaming Under the Same Moon’s spotlight post 

Learn more about the novel, read fellow blogger's reviews!

Purchase the novel on Kindle 

Synopsis: Sally Clay’s livelihood has been snatched away, but in its place arises an opportunity to escape from her sordid past and an unrelenting, unwanted suitor. Boarding a train with a heartsick rancher and an enigmatic miner, she leaves Virginia City behind and heads to Northern California, waiting for the chance to make right what went wrong three long years before.

But the road to revenge is far from smooth. Sally soon learns that the jagged pieces of a broken heart can far too easily wound the hearts of others – and hers isn’t the only heart that’s broken. Tragedy and fear dog her steps as she flees from the redwood forests to the high desert and back again. Will her bleeding heart ever find a way and a place to heal?

A desperate soiled dove. Three men who come to care for her. One man determined to claim her.

All on a journey that will show them what true love really involves. - Gooreads / Author Synopsis

Coming Next from Amber: TBA with a tentative release date of winter 2014

Sincere thanks to the author for providing an e-ARC complimentary copy of this book for reviewing purposes.
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Rissi
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25 comments:

  1. Lovely review, Rissi! You made so many good points. :) And congrats, Amber--here's to many such lovely reviews to come!

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    1. Thank you for reading, Rebeka. I look forward to reading your blog review soon! :)

      Ditto to your shout-out to Amber. Must agree - I think Bleeding Heart is going to receive many wonderful reviews. Excited to read them all in the coming days. :)

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    2. Aww, you guys! Love ya both!

      ~Amber

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    3. Same here, Amber. Love ya'. :)

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  2. Wow Rissi! Great review of Amber's book!

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    1. Thanks for reading, Julie! Appreciate you stopping by. :)

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  3. I'll echo Julie - wow, Rissi! Your review is so thoughtful! I'm touched by your personal comments, and I absolutely love that last line. :) Thank you so, so much for all of your support during this time, and for taking a chance not only on a self-pubbed book, but also on a book that is not in one of your fave genres. :) *Big hugs*

    And I'll also echo, Rebeka - you make a lot of great points, and I appreciate your feedback! Thank you for everything!

    ~Amber

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    1. You made it very easy, Amber, to put these together. I am telling you (despite my annoying trend to reiterate that I don't love this sort of setting/timeframe - really I promise, I will work on that!), your book was lovely! Every word, I meant sincerely.

      It's been interesting how many fun, awesome self-published novels I've found that were memorable in the last year. Basically, when you announced your book as self-published, it was like, "COOL! This will be awesome because a.) Amber's writing it and b.) it's going to be self-published." Glad that you went that route - I think it can teach writer's a lot of things.

      Thank *you* for all the work in putting this tour together, inviting all of us to join and for stopping by. :) Looking forward to the days ahead.

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    2. I'm so glad you found it easy to participate! I know it's nice as a book-blogger when groups like Litfuse have all the info you need in once place, and it's kind of nice to have a deadline (sometimes) so you have motivation to get the book read, LOL. I hope I was able to keep things organized but not super annoying!

      There have been some great self-published books, haven't there? Your words are so sweet, Rissi!! I definitely agree that self-publishing teaches you a LOT about the publishing industry. :)

      ~Amber

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    3. Deadlines are nice. On one hand I appreciate them because soon as I learn about "my date," I write it in my date book (so handy!) but then there are months when it's nice to know I have more freedom (i.e., reviewing books at my own pace). It's a catch-22 really. Gotta' love the life of a book blogger. ;)

      I admire your organization, Amber. You are building a great freelance business and I sincerely think you are doing it well. No, not at all! Nothing came across as annoying. :)

      Yes, there have been some good novels in the self-publishing branding! Loved discovering all of them, too; it's been a real joy. I trust your experiences in this journey have all been good - if a bit challenging. :)

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  4. Replies
    1. You'll love it, Juju. :)

      Happy reading!

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    2. Appreciate that, Juju! :)

      ~Amber

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  5. Wow, Rissi! This is such an amazing review!!! After reading this, my first thought was "Oh my word. What an awesome review, it sounds like a book, and now I want to read Bleeding Heart even MORE!" (If that is mentally, physically, and bookishly possible ;o ))
    Now I'm off to check out the spoilers at the Bleeding Heart site mentioned at your Goodreads review. :o )

    Have a wonderfully, splendidly awesome day!!!

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    1. Rissi does have a way with words, doesn't she? :) She's very talented - and very supportive!

      I've been so encouraged by your enthusiasm for Bleeding Heart! You're certainly welcome to check out the spoilers if you don't like unexpected plot twists - but I think the story packs more of an emotional punch if you don't know everything ahead of time... Guess it depends how you like your reading experience! :)

      ~Amber

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    2. Ysa - thank you for reading this! My first rule in reviewing is to write an honest assessment of my thoughts so that is always what I strive for - first and foremost I hope that is how this review comes across. With that being said, Amber's novel was a lovely read. I think it will be one I am going to re-read. In my book, that's the sign of a good book. :)

      Hope you didn't mind the spoilers!

      Same to you - have a grand day. :)

      Amber - just chiming in with this regarding spoilers; you threw me for a loop with one of the twists. NEVER expected it. I was sort of reading ahead and when I saw Sally's name coupled with someone else, I was like, "wait! What happened to Sally and..." Great job! :)

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  6. "...each of the characters are broken after being ill-used by someone they thought trustworthy"...you've got my attention! Great review, Rissi. I'm looking forward to reading "Bleeding Heart".

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    1. These characters are definitely broken... It's a darker story, but I hope one that you will still enjoy. :) Thank you so much for your interest and for all your great comments at the various blogs!

      ~Amber

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    2. Gwendolyn - it's a great book! I am excited to know what you think of it if/when you have opportunity to read Bleeding Heart.

      Just in case you missed it, Amber has a lovely giveaway - you are invited to, and most welcome to enter. :)

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  7. Great review Rissi, I'm so glad we met when you posted a review for Love's Miracles. I am finding your reviews very interesting and helpful.

    You did a great job with the review for Amber's Bleeding Hearts. I am reading this now and finding the unusual plot both refreshing and intriguing. That is the wonderful thing about self-publishing--you can venture out of the mold which Amber has done in a remarkable way.

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    1. Aww, Sandra! How sweet of you to stop by - and I'm honored by your words! I like that about self-publishing, too. :) My editor noted that she thought I would have a hard time getting a traditional publisher to accept the story "as is," so that kind of helped confirm the route I was planning to go (self-pubbing).

      ~Amber

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    2. Sandra - thank you for stopping by and commenting! :)

      ...again thanks for your kind words regarding the review for Bleeding Heart. The book made it easy to write a review - when a reader loves a book, it's so simple to write the review because really there is so much to discuss and consider - it provides all the inspiration! Those are the best sort of novels.

      Glad you are reading BH. I think you'll wind up enjoying it very much. It's a keeper.

      Amber - I am glad you didn't change the book! I can guess some of the things that may have had to change and knowing how much of a meaningful book this was for you - and readers, I admire you for publishing it in its original form. Well done.

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  8. Good review, Rissi! I'm thinking I have an idea of what that pivotal event is - it came as a shock to me as well. And what a surprise it was to discover how talented Amber is. Keep them coming, Amber!

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    1. Thank you so much for the kind words, Ganise! I'm hoping to keep them coming! ;)

      ~Amber

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    2. Hey Ganise! Thanks bunches for visiting. Always appreciate your comments and thorough thoughts.

      That's my hope as well - if Amber's last blog post was any indication, I think she has lots of future stories for us. Yay! Excited to see what the future brings for her. :)

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