Title: Letters to Kezia (The Puritan Chronicles #2)
Author: Peni Jo Renner
Release Date: January 14, 2015
Acquired Via: Historical Fiction Virtual Book Tours
It is 1693 in Hereford, Connecticut, when Mary Case, the spinster daughter of a Puritan minister, finds herself hopelessly smitten by the roguish thief, Daniel Eames. Betrothed to a man she does not like or love, she is soon compelled to help Daniel escape from jail. Suddenly, she finds herself on the run, not only accused of being Daniel’s accomplice, but also of murder.
The fugitive pair soon finds solace-and a mutual attraction-among the escapee’s Algonquin friends until two men from Daniel’s dark past hunt them down. After Mary is captured and returned home to await trial, a tragedy takes the life of her younger sister, revealing a dark secret Mary’s father has kept for months. But just as Mary learns she is pregnant, she makes a horrifying discovery about Daniel that changes everything and prompts her to develop an unlikely bond with his mother, Rebecca, who soon saves Mary from a shocking fate. It is not until years later that her daughter, Kezia, finally learns the truth about her biological father and family.
Letters to Kezia shares a courageous woman’s journey through a Puritan life and beyond as she struggles with adversity and betrayal, and discovers that loyalty can sometimes mean the difference between life and death.
Praise for Letters to Kezia
“In the tradition of author Peni Jo Renner’s gripping debut novel, Puritan Witch: The Redemption of Rebecca Eames, Letters to Kezia recounts the tale of courageous, compassionate, and relatable Mary, whose connection to Rebecca and her family is unforeseen and profound. The reader is captivated at the very first page, as Letters to Kezia is a story of forbidden love, deep family secrets, intrigue, murder, and atonement. Another beautifully written triumph for this author, whose immense gift for story-telling transports the reader into each scene so deftly, one can almost smell the wood smoke and hear the crackling of the fire in the hearth.” – Kelly Z. Conrad, award-winning author of Shaman
“Peni Jo Renner enthralled readers with Puritan Witch, the ordeal of Rebecca Eames, who was condemned to hang from Salem’s gallows as a witch. Now the Eames saga continues as Peni uses her special brand of witchery to bring Mary Case and Daniel Eames to vivid life, and shows us just how much a young woman will risk for love. Letters to Kezia is a poignant, true-life tale from colonial New England’s heartland which will captivate you, and keep you guessing until the end.” -JoAnn Butler, author of Rebel Puritan and The Reputed Wife
I was a little apprehensive when Kezia starts to read her mother's letters. They are addressed to Kezia, but Mary thought that she would have passed away before Kezia would find the letters to read them. I'm not a huge fan of epistolary novels, so I was relieved that only the first paragraph or so of each encounter was written so. The rest transitioned into third person narration.
Most of my issues are due to Mary and Daniel, because I didn't really like either character, and I thought that Mary's character was very inconsistent. Mary is a Puritan's minister's daughter who is used to obeying her father. She is tasked with giving the jailer and his prisoner's meals every night. She immediately falls for Daniel, and then helps him escape the jail. I just thought she was an idiot. Who falls for a known criminal thief, then runs off in the middle of the woods without a plan? Also, I didn't get the attraction to Daniel. He was a dirty thief in jail who hadn't brushed his teeth in who knows how long, yet she's all hot and bothered by their first kiss. He didn't even have to seduce her, but the description of their first time is just uncomfortable. Instead of describing it as "his entry was painful", I wish it would have just been a fade to black scene.
I don't even know how to categorize Letters to Kezia. At first, I thought it would be historical fiction about Puritan New England around the times of the Salem Witch Trials, but there was too much of a focus on Mary's romantic feelings for it. But, it was one of the least romantic novels I have ever read, so It's definitely not historical romance either.
I wish that there was more of a focus on the historical aspect, rather than the romance and deception plot. I really liked learning about the interactions between the town and the Native Americans. Mary's initial prejudice was annoying, but understanding as how many people probably felt at that time. I also liked reading about the justice system at the time, and how extra-marital relations could be somehow worse than murder in a Puritan town. I liked the story a lot better when I found the Author's notes at the end. Mary Chase and Daniel Eames were based on real people, and some of the information on the trial was based upon information found in the records of the Hartford County courthouse.
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About the Author
Peni Jo Renner is the author of the IPPY award-winning novel, Puritan Witch: the Redemption of Rebecca Eames. Originally from North Dakota, Peni now lives with her husband in Maryland where she is currently researching for the third book in the Puritan Chronicles series.
For more information please visit the Puritan Witch Website and Facebook Page. You can also follow Peni Jo Renner on Twitter.
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Review at Quirky Book Reviews
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Review at Book Nerd
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Review at 100 Pages a Day
Review at Bibliophilia, Please
Review & Interview at Jorie Loves a Story
Monday, March 23
Spotlight & Giveaway at Passages to the Past
Friday, March 27
Review at Book Babe
To satisfy FTC guidelines, I am disclosing that I received an advance copy of the book from Historical Fiction Virtual Book Tours in exchange for an honest review.