09 February 2012

Diana Flowers reviews The Lady of Bolton Hill by Elizabeth Camden



The Lady of Bolton Hill 
by Elizabeth Camden
(Bethany House, 2010)
~5 stars *****


Reviewed by Diana L. Flowers

Not Your Typical Historical Romance!

In her compelling debut novel, The Lady of Bolton Hill, Elizabeth Camden sweeps us away to Baltimore, Maryland, 1867, into the elite of society, the era of the steel mill industry, corruption, revenge, and romance.

Our heroine, Clara, the daughter of the wealthy newspaper magnate, Lloyd Endicott, has a very unlikely best friend in Daniel Tremain, a young boy who lives in the tenements, and whose own father gets killed in an accident in the steel mills. Their love of Chopin, Beethoven, and the arts draws them together, until at the age of 16, Clara's father decides it best to separate the two, and sends Clara off to England for 12 years. Clara becomes an advocate of the poor, writing newspaper articles about child labor in the mines, and Daniel becomes one of the most power industrialists in America, because of his vast knowledge of technology in the steel and railroad industries.

Upon Clara's return to Baltimore, they meet once again, and though Clara still loves Daniel, she finds a bitter man bent on vengeance towards the person he feels was responsible for his father's death. As their lives intertwine, Clara realizes there can never be anything more between them but friendship, because Daniel cannot forgive and let go of his vendetta, and she is a very devoted Christian. As a malevolent, sinister force causes Clara to fight for her very life, Daniel realizes he would do just about anything for her, but can he let go of the past and forgive? Can he accept Christ, simply because Clara wants him to? And even if he does, will he find Clara before it's too late?...for surely death's clock is quickly ticking away at her door, as a sinister force holds her captive.

I can hardly believe this is Ms. Camden's first published novel! Her writing skills are superb, and she certainly knows how to keep the reader turning those pages with her exciting storyline. She covers some heavy subject matter, such as child labor, opium dealers, etc., and this is certainly no lighthearted romance. Her characters wrapped themselves around my heart; even one of the evil ones--believe it or not!...and I found her research on steel millls, and ensuing riots of that era impeccable. Ms. Camden weaves a very strong spiritual thread throughout, and Clara was the epitome of what every Christian person should be, in my opinion. A wonderful read that left me in tears at a surprise in the conclusion! Very nicely done!


(Purchase through CBD, Amazon, and other books stores.)



GIVEAWAY:  Leave a comment and your email to be entered in this week’s contest.  Drawing will be late Saturday.  Your choice of this author’s books, choice of format.

68 comments:

  1. Yep, this was the best debut novel of 2011!!! In fact, I voted for it at the Family Fiction Reader's Choice Awards! I can't imagine Elizabeth topping this one but I am certainly willing to find out :)

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  2. Oh, and that's a spectacular review! If it doesn't entice someone to buy the book I don't know what will!

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  3. Thanks for sharing that, Anne! I didn't know it was the 2011 debut novel of the year, but I can certainly understand why. And thank you for your kind words.

    I loved that movie North and South by BBC, and this book was reminiscent of that movie...same era and all. I'm not talking about the North and South movie with Patrick Swayze, although I loved that one, too! :)

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  4. I loved the first book! I would love to read the second one! It was very different! martha(at)lclink(dot)com

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  5. Hi, Martha! Perhaps you will win the second one here! Thanks for stopping by!

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  6. Well, I said it was the best. I don't know about anyone else, but it was a choice in the category on the Family Fiction site :)

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  7. North & South (BBC) is awesome!!! But I loved the book too :)

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  8. I haven't read the book, but everyone needs to see the movie! Well, as long as we think it's the best, that's what counts, Anne! :) Can't wait for the sequel to Lady of Bolton Hill... Bane's story...yeah!

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  9. Oh, this book had such a great ending that I had a tough time putting it down! Lovely review, Diana :)

    crazi.swans at gmail dot com

    Thank you

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  10. Thank you, Faye! And aren't you glad Bane is coming back? Yay!

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  11. Such raving reviews about The Lady of Bolton Hill that I would love a chance to win. Thank you!

    desertrose5173 at gmail dot com

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  12. I'm anticipating Bane's story more than any others, I do believe :)

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  13. Me too, Anne! It's gotta be great! Now we are really piquing the interest of those who haven't read this yet! lol

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  14. Linda, I would love for you to win, too. Thank you for stopping by!

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  15. Great review, Diana! I have it on my Kindle.

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  16. Thank you, Miss Carrie! Guess Anne and I need not give out any spoilers then! ;) I love to pick at Anne. We talked on the phone the other day and she is sooo much fun!

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  17. I'm also looking forward to read Bane's story! I really liked that guy :)

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  18. Truly a story of redemption and God's grace, isn't it, Marian!

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  19. Great review! I am reading The Rose of Winslow Street right now and loving it - now I have to read The Lady of Bolton Hill. Thanks for the give away opportunity.
    Sharon
    smoore(at)tcq(dot)net

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  20. Hi, Sharon! Welcome to OTT! I have heard nothing but great things about RoWS, so I will have to find time to squeeze that one in someday. Elizabeth is writing a sequel to The Lady of Bolton Hill, that is hopefully coming out in October, so I'm really excited about that!

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  21. Diana, this review is incredible and you are a great example to me on reviewing and writing. Thank you.
    It seems I have The Lady of Bolton Hill on my Kindle, but I haven't read it yet. I've not read her first book The Rose of Winslow Street, so this would be my first choice to read and then read the second book. The current book is covered with such elegance and I'm looking forward to reading both.
    Thanks for the giveaway and opportunity to win such a fine book.

    Blessings,
    Barb Shelton
    barbjan10 at tx dot rr dot com

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  22. Hmm, I've heard mixed reviews about this one. About 50/50. But it sounds like something I'd enjoy. I'd love a chance to check it out for myself.

    dinasleiman at gmail dot com

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  23. Barb, coming from you, that is such a wonderful compliment. I'm very touched. Everything that could go wrong seems like it went wrong today, starting with quite a chunk of change that was debited from our bank account (although we got that straightened out!), everything seemed to have a domino effect after that. You have truly made my day!

    These are stand alone books, Barb, and Lady of Bolton Hill was written first. The Rose of Winslow Street is Ms. Camden's second book, but is not a sequel to The Lady of Bolton Hill. She is planning on doing a spin-off on one of the characters in Lady of Bolton Hill, but that won't be out until Octoberish.

    Thank you again for your kind words that blessed this girl's heart very much tonight!

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  24. This book looks great!! I love the cover!

    marissamehresman(at)aol(dot)com

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  25. Hi, Dina! It's really great to have you here! I think that's somewhat typical (but there are exceptions), when you have a book with so many reviews as this one...just shy of 100 reviews on Amazon. I think in this case, perhaps it just boils down to personal preference, but I would love for you to have a chance to judge for yourself! I loved it for the same reason I loved Dance of the Dandelion...it was different and unique; not your typical romance novel!

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  26. Thank you for your comment, Marissa! Isn't that gown spectacular?!

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  27. "The Lady of Bolton Hill" has a very lovely cover and sounds like a book I'd really enjoy reading. Thanks for the opportunity to win a copy.

    pmk56[at]sbcglobal[dot]net

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  28. Hi, Pam! Throwing your name in my virtual sombrero here and hoping for a win for you!

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  29. Thanks for the great review. I have The Lady of Bolton Hill in my TBR stack and looking forward to reading. I would love to also read The Rose of Winslow Street which is on my wish list. Thanks for the opportunity to enter giveaway.

    misskallie2000 at yahoo dot com

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  30. Diana, Our Miss Dina must be referring to her inner circle or something. Amazon ratings are
    49 - 5 stars, 26 - 4 stars and then a smattering of others including from someone who had the gall to put up a 1 star review and she had NOT even finished reading the book. http://www.amazon.com/Lady-Bolton-Hill-Elizabeth-Camden/product-reviews/0764208942/ref=sr_1_1_cm_cr_acr_txt?ie=UTF8&showViewpoints=1

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  31. Thank you for coming by misskallie! I hope you get a chance to read both of them! I know all about those tbr stacks! ;)

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  32. Thanks for the stats, Carrie, and I think it's amazing that so many people would take time out of their busy schedules to post a review for LoBH... it shows they thought the book was well worth it!

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  33. Thanks for the great review Diana, can't wait to read this, as much as I enjoyed "The Rose of Winslow Street" I know I will like this one. :)

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  34. Hey, Teresa! I hope you are feeling better, gf!

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  35. That. Is. A. GORGEOUS. Cover! Oh my goodness, that is stunning. I'd love to win a copy of this book ~ thank you for the opportunity. Cheers to you!

    amanda38401 at gmail dot com

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  36. Isn't it, though? It's good to see you, Amanda! That cover, beautiful as it is, is a little misleading, as our worthy heroine is not out attending balls, but she is out helping the poor and writing about unfair child labor. That may sound boring, but nothing about this book is boring! And there is romance...

    I'd love for you to win, too, Amanda!

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  37. Diana... your reviews are bad for my wallet! I always want to read the book after you post about it. :) Thanks for the chance to win this one.
    twinwillowsfarm at gmail dot com

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  38. You're too funny, Pegg...and kind. Thank you. Perhaps you will win this one and not have to touch that wallet this time! :)

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  39. Hi ANNE. Thanks o much for your vote of confidence! I'm really looking forward to bringing Bane's story out too.....putting the finishng touches on it as we speak!

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  40. Hi DINA and CARRIE..... about those mixed reviews for The Lady of Bolton Hill.... two things going on there. Number One: Some people didn't like it! I'll admit....it was a real change of pace for Inspirational Fiction, and although it got a ton of fabulous reviews, there was some controversial and off-the-beaten strack stuff in there, so those negative reactions were perfectly fair.

    The other thing that happened is that the book was available as a free download in early January. For a few days it was the #1 downloaded freebie in the country! I was told to expect a flood of negative reviews immediately following the free-giveaway, and indeed it happened. A lot of people voraciously download the free books...whether inspirational romance is their thing or not. Some folks clearly didn't know it came from the inspirational genre, and were offended by the Christian content. Others don't really care for historical romance.

    The good news is that I KNOW that I reached a lot of new readers by the huge volume of fan mail that started hitting my in-box a week or two after the freebie. So would I do it again? YOU BET!

    But as I said earlier..... The Lady of Bolton Hill is pretty different for inspirational romance, and I KNOW it isn't everyone's cup of tea. I really admire Bethany House for rolling the dice on someone like me!

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  41. Hi MARISSA and DIANA.

    Didn't I get lucky in the gorgeous cover department! There are so many cringe-worthy covers slapped on romance books, but Bethany House usually does beautiful ones.

    A blogger did a story about the development and some of the alternate covers that were proposed for The Lady of Bolton Hill. You can see those alternate covers here: http://blogs.lifeway.com/christianfiction/2011/03/the-novel-process-day-3.html

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  42. You got doubly blessed, Elizabeth! Both covers are beautiful and have such a power of attraction, I'm sure readers would have a hard time passing them by at the bookstores!

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  43. THANKS for that great link, Elizabeth! I put it up on FB after I read the article. It seems like a number of the publishers are pushing the envelope to bring fresh and diverse voices and topics to Christian fiction. I have heard exactly what you said about the freebies, on the HisWriters loop. It is a double-edged sword but you have the right attitude for this business!!!

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  44. Another great thing about those freebies, Carrie, is that the reader who can't stand Christian fiction (I've heard them get pretty irate with Amazon for not letting them in on the fact that there was "religion" throughout the book), reads the novel all the way through, a seed of the Word of God will be planted in their hearts! I read where one woman came back to the Lord, by mistakenly reading a Christian fiction book, and that makes it all worth it, I would think!

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  45. I'm leaving a comment for my dear friend in Oregon, Terry Polk, who was having problems leaving a comment. She would like to be entered and would LOVE to win!

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  46. Beautiful cover and the story sounds intriguing. Congrats on your first book. And there will always be naysayers in this business. Everyone has their own view and they hide behind their computer screen to bite at people. You know the truth in your heart and I'm sure many are touched by the message you share.

    Blessings,
    Lyn
    spooler(at)comcast(dot)net

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  47. Lyn, thank you so much for that and I hope Elizabeth will be able to find the time to come back and read that. It will encourage and uplift her I'm sure. I'm the type of reviewer that will NOT write a review on a book that I don't like. There are some books that are just not my cup of tea, but I won't cut down something that someone worked so hard at for hours on end and that other people will probably like. We all have out favorite genres and not all books will appeal to us, but I'm with you, Lyn, no biting...

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  48. Diana, it's all about piquing interest though isn't it? Maybe everyone who comments here and doesn't win will go and buy the book! They certainly couldn't go wrong doing that :)

    Elizabeth, I'm going to tell why I want to read The Rose of Winslow Street so much by revealing my middle name- Romania! Yes, that's right. I was named after my grandmother, Anna Romania. I have NEVER told my middle name in public. I always hated it because the teachers pronounced it "Ramona" and I really didn't like that name. No offense to anyone named Ramona. It's a fine name. It's just not mine :o)

    So there you have it...the rest of the story ;)

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  49. That is a cool middle name, Anne! Why did they name you that? My husband's grandmother had the middle name Apollonia and would never tell anyone what her middle name was. I saw it on my BILs genealogy disk he sent. However, since he got a few other names wrong, I am not sure that is trustworthy lol!

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  50. Anne Romania?? Wow! That is a lovely and unigue name, just like its owner! I'm glad you felt comfortable enough to have shared it with us here.

    Hopefully, Anne Romania, everyone that has viewed Carrie's interview and mine and Teresa's reviews this week will order both of them!

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  51. Carrie, I have NO idea why they chose that name other than it was my daddy's mama's name and she died when he was a little boy.

    I hope they buy both of Elizabeth's books too!

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  52. This comment has been removed by the author.

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  53. You and your name are unique...not unigue. That's what happens when one proofreads without reading glasses!

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  54. Do you know why your grandmother was named that, Anne?

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  55. Looks great, please add me to the drawing!

    Librarybooks@religious.com

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  56. Carrie, I have no idea :) I'll have to ask my dad.

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  57. reluvbe, welcome to OTT and thank you for entering!

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  58. I know my paternal great grandmother's name was Martha Roseanna Smythe, so they used Anna for my grandmother. I also know that my maternal great great grandmother was Julia Ann Thurmond, so the name Ann(a) is a family name :) I haven't yet figured out the Romania :/

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  59. Anne, there was a blonde actress way back when, that not too many people have heard of. She either disappeared out of the limelight, or passed away at a young age, but my parents named me after her...her full name was Diana Lynn. Nothing exotic like Romania...

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  60. Such a great review of the book. Makes me really want to read it! Thanks!
    pbclark(at)netins(dot)net

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  61. Thank you, rubynreba! I hope you get a chance to read both of them in the near future!

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  62. LYN: Thanks for your reassuring words! I truly don't mind negative reviews, so long as the writer actually read the book and isn't bashing it because it belongs in a genre they don't like. Still, it takes a little used to seeing those harsh comments, and I really appreciate your words of support!

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  63. ANNE.... I love your middle name! I had so much fun reasearching the culture and history of Romania, and I loved weaving it into the storyline of the book. One of these days I hope to visit the country. If you ever learn more about why your grandmother was named ROmania, I'd love to hear it!

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  64. Elizabeth, I wanted to take this opportunity to tell you what a joy and a blessing it has been having you on the blog this week...although the week isn't quite over yet.:) You have such a wonderful Christian attitude, and it certainly shows in your novels! What an honor it was for me to be able to share my review of LoBH on the blog this week. Thank you so much for being with us. Am so looking forward to reading all of your upcoming novels!

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  65. I would love to be entered to win.
    This book looks super good!!
    It sounds AMAZING!
    dymesich(at)juno(Dot)com

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  66. Thanks DIANA.... I am so glad I've discovered this website and have added it to my weekly TBR list of blogs..... what a great community has gathered here!

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  67. THANKS for adding us ELIZABETH! It has been SO good getting to know you better. We do have some AWESOME readers who come by to hang out with us and Diana, Teresa and I love it! Many blessings to you!

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  68. Leah, I see you up there sweetie, but unfortunately, you didn't win this one.:( I hope you come to our Valentine's week party, where we will be doing alot of giveaways, and hopefully you will win a great book...maybe even some chocolates!

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