Wednesday, September 29, 2021

CARVED IN STONE by Elizabeth Camden, Reviewed by Winnie Thomas and Rebecca Maney

Set in New York City in 1900 and rich in historical detail, Elizabeth Camden’s first book in The Blackstone Legacy series is a fascinating look at the differences in social classes during that period. The disparity between the very wealthy and the poor, hardworking classes is brought to life in this tale.

Camden is a master at creating colorful, carefully-drawn, engaging characters, and they shine in this book. Gwen Kellerman is a wealthy heiress in the Blackstone family, although she cares little for her fortune. She aims to carry on her father’s work and legacy at Blackstone College. When she meets Patrick O’Neill, an impoverished Irish lawyer who is striving to help the struggling Irish immigrants in his community, a connection occurs. I enjoyed seeing their relationship change and grow as they strive to solve a mystery and accomplish their goals.

Intrigue, suspense, romance, and inspiration combine to make this a magnificent start to the series. I enjoyed the historical notes in the back of the book that tie the book to actual historical happenings and people. Camden is one of my favorite go-to authors for historical romance fiction, and I’m looking forward to her next book. 4.5 stars

*I voluntarily reviewed a complimentary copy from Bethany House publishers. All opinions are my own.

"I want to get married someday, but I will wait until I know it's right, because there will be no going back on those vows. They will be carved in stone . . . "

But would Patrick O'Neill wait just a bit too long, allowing pride to cloud his thinking while his heart took a beating? After all, Gwen Blackstone Kellerman is clearly an heiress of unfathomable fortune, while Patrick could best be described as a priest-in-the-making turned lawyer-for-the-lowly. In spite of the societal and economic gulf looming large between them, what draws them together will have to prove stronger than what threatens them to break apart, for danger abounds in their gilded world, leaving a decades old family mystery just begging to be solved.

Surprisingly, this plot line seemed to meander about through pages and chapters that were quite interesting and often intriguing, but lacked a general cohesiveness that would have given it additional strength. That being said, it's a wonderful story with characters that will undoubtedly reappear as the series progresses, doggedly tugging on your heart strings as they navigate their advantages and opportunities. How satisfying that in this story Patrick finally admits that "I got too caught up in worrying about what people thought of me when I should have been counting my blessings for the miracle that brought you into my life" . . . agreeing with all of us . . . that for Gwen to be alone, "would be a crime".
*I received a copy of this book from the publisher and also purchased a copy. The thoughts and opinions stated above are entirely my own.
3.5 stars


Her gilded world holds a deeply hidden secret.

After years of tragedy, Gwen Kellerman now lives a quiet life as a botanist at an idyllic New York college. She largely ignores her status as heiress to the infamous Blackstone dynasty and hopes to keep her family's heartbreak and scandal behind her.

Patrick O'Neill survived a hardscrabble youth to become a lawyer for the downtrodden Irish immigrants in his community. He's proud of his work, even though he struggles to afford his ramshackle law office. All that changes when he accepts a case that is sure to emphasize the Blackstones' legacy of greed and corruption by resurrecting a thirty-year-old mystery.

Little does Patrick suspect that the Blackstones will launch their most sympathetic family member to derail him. Gwen is tasked with getting Patrick to drop the case, but the old mystery takes a shocking twist neither of them saw coming. Now, as they navigate a burgeoning attraction and growing danger, Patrick and Gwen will be forced to decide if the risk to the life they've always held dear is worth the reward.

Bethany House Publishing, August 2021
Available in digital ebook, paperback, hardcover, and audiobook:

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