March 15, 2013

Henry Weston

***A huge hero-girl welcome to long-time follower, fellow author and blogger, Dawn Crandall. Like Whitney, I trust Dawn's hero taste completely and stalk her blog often for candidates. I'm thrilled she was able to fill in for me and be sure you show her the FHF love for bringing us Henry Weston and check out more about Dawn and her blog at the end of the feature.***

I am so honored to be the one Nancy has chosen to dissect Julie Klassen’s book, The Tutor’s Daughter in order to discuss the valiant qualities of its hero, Henry Weston. As she often does, Nancy read my glowing review back in December, and my—I own, I could not help it—gushing words about Henry, as my nomination to have him featured on her blog. I didn’t hesitate with my affirmative and excitable answer when she asked me to do this—Yes! Of course! Of the fifty books I read and reviewed on my blog last year, Henry Weston was the hero of the year in my opinion.

About Henry Weston's novel The Tutor's Daughter by Julie Klassen (released Dec. 2012): 


Filled with page-turning suspense, The Tutor's Daughter takes readers to the windswept Cornwall coast--a place infamous for shipwrecks and superstitions--where danger lurks, faith is tested, and romance awaits.

Emma Smallwood, determined to help her widowed father when his boarding school fails, accompanies him to the cliff-top manor of a baronet and his four sons. But soon after they arrive and begin teaching the two younger boys, mysterious things begin to happen. Who does Emma hear playing pianoforte at night, only to find the music room empty? And who begins sneaking into her bedchamber, leaving behind strange mementos?

The baronet's older sons, Phillip and Henry Weston, wrestle with problems--and secrets--of their own. They both remember the studious Miss Smallwood from their days at her father's academy. But now one of them finds himself unexpectedly drawn to her...

When suspicious acts escalate, can Emma figure out which brother to blame and which to trust with her heart?


From The Tutor's Daughter by Julie Klassen:


      That evening, Emma, her father and Mr. Davies were just finishing their dinner when Henry Weston knocked on the open office door. Emma’s body tensed as though expecting a blow.
      Davies made to rise, but Mr. Weston raised his palm. “Don’t get up. I am only here to see Mr. Smallwood.”
      Her father rose from the table. “Henry!” He beamed and strode across the room, hand extended.
      Ignoring Emma, Henry Weston walked forward and shook her father’s hand.
      He looked very elegant in evening clothes, Emma noticed. Cravat and patterned waistcoat showed between the lapels of his dark coat. A white shirt collar framed each side of his well-defined jaw.
      Her father pummeled the younger man’s shoulder good-naturedly. “Good heavens, taller that I am. How are you, my boy?”
      Mr. Weston said, “I am well. Though I regret I was not here when you first arrived, and that your welcome was not all it should have been.”
      “Now, now, not another word about that,” her father said. “We are very happy to be here, Emma and I, especially now that you are among us.” He turned to her. “Are we not, my dear?”
      Emma’s smile felt stiff. “Oh. . . yes.”
      Her father titled his head back to better view Henry’s face. “Seeing you again does my heart good.”
      A hint of a smile lifted Mr. Weston’s mouth. “And mine. What good memories I have of my years in Longstaple with you.” he looked at the steward. “Mr. Smallwood was my tutor before Oxford, Mr. Davies. Do you recall? Phillip’s as well.”
      “I do recall, yes,” Mr. Davies said dryly. “I sent the payments, after all.”
      If Henry heard this, he gave no indication, his eyes tilting upwards in memory. “Happy days.”
      Emma nearly choked to hear him categorize them as such. Suspicion flared through her. What was he up to?
      Her father went on the say he hoped they would be seeing a great deal of each other now that Henry had come home.
      Mr. Weston, in turn, suggested they might play a game of backgammon of an evening, and her father heartily agreed.
      Henry’s gaze swept the table, avoiding Emma, before turning to Mr. Smallwood. “Well, I shall let you return to your dinner. Again, welcome to Ebbington Manor. If there’s anything you need while you’re here, please don’t hesitate to let me know.”
      As though he is the host, Emma thought. Perhaps he was.
      Her father smiled. “Thank you.”
      Henry gave a slight bow, nodded toward Emma without meeting her eyes, then turned and left the room.
Her father resumed his seat. “Well,” he began, spooning into his pudding. “He has certainly turned out well, I must say.”
      A conclusion based on what? Emma wondered. A few polite words? It would take more than that to convince her he had changed from the churlish Henry of old.

Copyright 2012 by Julie Klassen. Excerpt used with permission. All rights reserved.

Gallant Score:

I have a strong suspicion that Gallant just might be Henry Weston’s middle name. Look the word up in the thesaurus; every synonym listed more than describes him and his motto for living life properly. Brave. Dauntless. Bold. Honorable. Noble. Dignified. And I cannot go on without mentioning INTENSE. Even when he hardly says a word, these formidable attributes literally ooze from him in every scene, whether it’s a current-day scene or in a flashback from when he was a teenager at the Smallwood Academy. 

Here are some of the reasons that Henry Weston deserves every single one of those five orange heads:
  • His actions for the benefit of one of his brothers, saving him from a less-than desirable life-situation orchestrated by his uncaring step-mother.
  • He takes care of his family’s estate for the benefit of his family, despite his desire to get away and see the world.
  • He does everything in his power to save Emma from rather dire straits without a second thought for himself.
  • He is everything respectable and trustworthy in regards to Emma... not counting the harmless pranks he played on her as an adolescent.

Wounded Score:

Henry Weston is a walking heartache concerning his mother’s death, the care of his brothers and his impossible and conflicted feelings for a commoner like Emma Smallwood. Impossible, at least in regards to how his step-mother sees it, and conflicted because of his own family-issues tying him to a life he doesn’t want.

Softie Score:

To the average person Henry Weston might have the chance to associate with during the ins and outs of his days this score would probably be a big fat ZERO. He’s gruff, he’s harsh, and at first he seems very guarded and doesn’t seem too interested in dealing with anyone or anything that doesn’t pertain to the running of his family’s estate off the coast of Cornwall, England. However, once he’s reintroduced to Emma Smallwood as an adult—at the most inopportune time in regards to the issues his family is dealing with—he finds a most unlikely confidante. And slowly, though their friendship is seemingly revealed to each of them one small step at a time, Emma soon comes to find that Henry is so much more than she’d ever given him credit for. There is a noble and courageous heart under all that at-first-glance grimness.

Stupid Strike:

I suppose I can give him one of these, half a head for two different occurrences. Firstly, for the pranks he used to play on Emma when they were adolescents, though much of it was him acting out against the circumstances he found himself in. And I must add, by his doing so, he did catch her attention and kept it for a good number of years… even if she was always thinking back on him as a trouble-maker. And secondly, because of how he let Chapter 25 end!

Swoon Score:

Henry Weston’s reserved civility toward everyone just reeks of pent-up frustration... and it’s oh so interesting to keep reading… and to keep trying to figure out why! What would he have to be frustrated about? He has everything, right? Ah, but it’s all everything he doesn’t want.

Really, you ask? He deserves a perfect final score? Yes. He does. And now I will try and make you understand why (if you haven’t already figured it out).

The book is peppered with such indecipherable glances, he always seems to be leering Emma’s way… and oh dear, I suppose this is where I have to admit that those glares and questioning, sidelong looks were what pulled me through this book in the matter of a day and a half. Those looks combined with the irrepressible charm that comes out when that intense guard of his finally comes down—let’s just say that it’s a good thing this last and final score is labeled SWOON! Quite simply, he gets FIVE out of five because he deserves every single one of them.

And then there was the ending—one of my favorite endings of any book I’ve read in a very long time. Likely because of the faultless build-up and the fact that everything about the book culminated into a perfect hopelessness that had my heart strings pulled to the max. *sigh* When I was finished with the last scene, had read the last word on the last page, all I wanted to do was start reading the entire book over again from the beginning.

About Henry Weston's author Julie Klassen:


Julie Klassen loves all things Jane—Jane Eyre and Jane Austen. A graduate of the University of Illinois, Julie worked in publishing for sixteen years and now writes full time. She has won the Christy Award: Historical Romance for The Silent Governess (2010) and The Girl in the Gatehouse (2011) which also won the 2010 Midwest Book Award for Genre Fiction. Julie and her husband have two sons and live in a suburb of St. Paul, Minnesota. Find out more about Julie at http://www.julieklassen.com/.








The FHF exclusive directly from the author:


Three steps I take when creating heroes are: describing him, finding a photo of an actor or model who embodies that description, and “interviewing” the character with a series of questions.

Here is the description I wrote of Henry Weston, in the early days of working on The Tutor’s Daughter:  Tall, athletic, wavy dark brown hair, pale complexion punctuated by dark stubble by mid-afternoon, deep-set yellow-green eyes, thin mouth.

The actor I had in mind as a starting point was young Rufus Sewell in Middlemarch, but along the way, as usually happens, Henry Weston became “his own man.”

And finally, here are two of Henry’s interview replies:

18.  What stands in the way of your happiness right now?

My father’s feckless ways, my step-mother’s conniving manipulation to acquire more for herself and her devious sons, her pointed hints that it is my duty to find a wealthy wife to fill the family coffers, worries over Phillip following our father’s example, worries about Adam’s future…. And now I have Mr. Smallwood and Miss Smallwood under our roof to worry about as well.

20. If you could change one thing about your past, what would it be?

I would have established a relationship with Adam earlier. And I would have been kinder and not have alienated Miss Smallwood in my youth.

I hope you enjoy “meeting” Henry Weston in the pages of The Tutor’s Daughter!

Amazon      Barnes & Noble     Christianbook.com


Dawn Crandall writes long inspirational historical romantic suspense from first person point of view and is represented by Joyce Hart of Hartline Literary Agency. She has written two books which are on submission as part of a series, and is working on the third. Soon after finishing her first book and becoming a member of American Christian Fiction Writers (ACFW) in July 2011 she attended the ACFW national conference where she gained literary representation and soon-after became a 2012 ACFW Genesis Contest Semi-Finalist. She has a BA in Christian Education from Taylor University, writes full-time and lives in northeast Indiana with her ever-supportive engineer husband, Jonathan, and their two cats, Lilly and Pumpkin. Dawn co-hosts a book review blog called A Passion for Pages at www.apassionforpages.blogspot.com and tweets those reviews at @dawnwritesfirst. To find out more about her, visit her author pages online at www.dawncrandall.blogspot.com or www.facebook.com/DawnCrandallWritesFirst.

The giveaways:


Nancy here! Thank you so much Dawn and Julie for letting Henry join us at FHF. I'll be back on April 1st and huge thanks again to Whitney and Dawn for keeping the lights on here at FHF while I was away.

We're giving away one copy of The Tutor's Daughter in the format of the winner's choice (print or ebook)
OR
$10 Amazon or B&N giftcard to existing readers who can name a character not given anywhere in the feature.
Be sure you leave me your e-mail address in a spam-fighting format like pranksrus (at) cornwall dot com so I can e-mail you to send you your prize.

Randomly drawn winners will be announced March 30th. (A day early for Resurrection Sunday/Easter)

Don't be shy. Tell me which drawing to put you in otherwise I think you're just sharing in the hero love that is FHF. So for fun, what's the best/worst prank you've ever pulled/had pulled on you? Now, let's play!

March 1, 2013

Dr. Eli Ernest

***Wait, where is Nancy???*** Hey there hero-girls! I knew about a month ago the next few hero features weren't going to happen if I didn't enlist some help. So I reached out to some very trusted friends to fill in for me in March and am insanely happy at the job they did. And for the first time EVER, I got to experience what you guys do twice a month, as these were heroes in my TBR list who had been nominated so I got the full FHF experience for the first time from the other side. Wow. This blog is cool! Now I MUST read these books. This guest feature was written and coordinated by my first ever blog follower and very trusted hero-girl, Whitney. You guys be sure and show her some FHF love in the comments because without her there would have been no 3/1 feature. - NK

Hero.
1. A man of distinguished courage or ability, admired for his brave deeds and noble qualities.
As described by Dictionary.com

If I remember correctly, I had barely turned the last page of this book and swiped at a lingering tear before I left flaming tracks across the floor on my way to the computer and to FHF, where I clicked on the “Nominate a Hero” head, begging Nancy to feature Eli Ernest. “A five star hero”, I remember typing. “You’ll be hard-pressed to find a hero any better than he is.” THEN, I harped on her about it in a couple emails. Finally, I suppose she figured she was never going to hear the last of it until this very worthy hero fought his way through the gauntlet of orange heads to take his place among the esteemed Fiction Heroes.

 
That being said, I want to add that as a hopeless hero-girl romantic, I feel very privileged to have been able to guest write a hero feature—and for one of my favorites to boot! A marriage of convenience story like no other, Jody Hedlund’s The Doctor’s Lady had my heart turning somersaults before the book hardly had time to get off the ground. Eli was both unbelievably strong and unbelievably tender, which does a number on this girl’s heart. Chapter after chapter saw Eli fighting the land, the elements, time, his feelings for Priscilla, and his past. His inward scars do as much to endear him to the reader as his many outward scars. He’s a hero in the truest sense of the word.

About The Doctor's Lady by Jody Hedlund (released Sept. 1, 2011): 

Priscilla White knows she'll never be a wife or mother and feels God's call to the mission field in India. Dr. Eli Ernest is back from Oregon Country only long enough to raise awareness of missions to the natives before heading out West once more. But then Priscilla and Eli both receive news from the mission board: No longer will they send unmarried men and women into the field. 

Left scrambling for options, the two realize the other might be the answer to their needs. Priscilla and Eli agree to a partnership, a marriage in name only that will allow them to follow God's leading into the mission field. But as they journey west, this decision will be tested by the hardships of the trip and by the unexpected turnings of their hearts.


From The Doctor’s Lady by Jody Hedlund:


His feet moved toward her as if she had some kind of magic hold upon him. He knew he ought to crack himself over the head for his weakness, but he couldn’t stop himself.

“Those buggers are tough to dislodge,” he said. “I know from personal experience.”
She held out her hand to him. “I didn’t realize the pears had needles on them.”
He knelt next to her and cupped her hand in his. “On the last trip, I bit into one.”
She gasped.
He smiled. “Yep.”
“Doesn’t quite seem fair for God to make them so attractive only to cover them with such painful spines.”
“At least they’re on your hand and not in your mouth.”
“True.” She touched the thin black scar near his thumb. “And how’s your wound?”
“It’s on the mend. Looks like it’ll stay together just fine.”
“Then my sewing job didn’t ruin you for life?”
He grinned. “I’m already ruined.”
Her lips curved into a small smile. And the sight of it made him realize how rare her smiles were. Had she always been so serious?
He bent his head over her hand. The thin, clear needles had punctured the tender skin on her palm and fingers. He pinched one between his fingernails and tugged it loose.
She winced.
“I’m sorry.” He worked faster. “It’ll hurt for a few minutes.”
He tried not to think about her pain. Over the years he’d accustomed himself to the fact that he would always cause his patients some pain and discomfort. It was just part of the job, part of the healing process.
But with each needle he pried loose, the sting in her flesh radiated into his. By the time he was done, he was sweating.
“How does your hand feel now?” He grazed his fingers across the swollen red spots on her hand.
She sucked in a breath.
His gaze lifted to hers.
Teardrops glistened in her eyelashes, but her eyes were wide with wonder. “You have the gentlest hands.”
“Comes with years of practice.” He sank into the feather softness of her eyes.
“And I think they came from the Lord, who’s obviously given you the perfect skills for doctoring.”
If not for the sincerity in her tone, he might have scoffed at her comment. Anyone could be a doctor. His stepfather had been right about that. It didn’t take much book learning, not like it did to become a minister.
Even so, he’d had to work harder than most to make it. “At first I didn’t think I’d be content with doctoring. I thought I wanted to be someone important like a minister. But it didn’t take me long to realize God can use a doctor just as much as a minister.”
She cocked her head, as if she might argue with him.
“I realize you probably have the same view as most of the population—that becoming a minister is better, more noble, than anything else. But I’ve learned God can use a clay pot just as much as a glass jar.”
For a moment she studied him and then gave him the barest of smiles. “I’m grateful you’re a doctor and not a minister. Otherwise, I’d still be picking prickles out of my palm.”
He touched the tender skin of her palm and swiped a dot of blood off the tip of her finger. Without thinking, he lifted her hand to his lips and kissed her finger.
She drew in a sharp breath but didn’t make an effort to pull away from him.
He met her gaze. The silkiness in the depths sent a tremor through his body. He pressed his lips against her smooth skin again, tasting the saltiness of her blood.
His lips brushed a path to her palm, and in the tender, moist middle he pressed another kiss.
Her chest rose and fell in rapid succession, but she still made no move. Instead, she watched, almost as if she was remembering the kiss he’d given her on their wedding day, the same kiss that still haunted him.
Maybe it was past time for him to give her another. How could one little kiss hurt anything?

Excerpt used with permission. All rights reserved.

Gallant Score: 
For me, there is no hesitation here. Eli’s score of four Orange Heads is earned through almost every scene. The hardships Eli and his comrades endured on their way to Oregon and the Nez Perce people in 1836 left me feeling as though I might fall out of my chair from exhaustion. Just when I thought these poor people could withstand no more, they did. Dodgy guides, raging rivers, sickness. And Eli was there, as leader and champion, keeping the worn stitches of their arduous journey from fraying and undoing them all.

 
Wounded Score: 
This was really a tossup between three and four heads, so I reason it to be a score of three and half heads. Like Priscilla, I often wanted to reach out and caress Eli’s cheek, touch his many scars, and cry on his shoulder at his pain. And being of the heroic cloth that Eli’s cut from, he’d have let her (or me!). Guilt ridden over the events of a fateful day in his youth that led to years of his sisters’ suffering at the hand of his stepfather, Eli’s emotional wounds resurface several times throughout the story. Being a wounded hero didn’t make Eli weak, though. If anything, it made him stronger. 



Softie Score: 
This one was tough. His softie score of three heads really belongs to Pricilla and her alone; the chosen excerpt a glimpse of this. There are a few other aspects that lend to his Softie score, such as his love of the Nez Perce, and his deep regret regarding his family. One of these orange heads can definitely be attributed to the part of the book concerning cholera and Eli’s care of the people who fell ill.



Stupid Strikes: 
Zilch. These barren heads attest to Eli’s hero aptitude. He’s a very real hero, though. Flawed, not always right, but never acting in a way that made me roll my eyes at his actions or thoughts. Eli is the very best kind of hero. Both complete in his capturing of my heart, and totally—humanly—fallible.


Swoon Score: 
Aaahh, yes. Ablaze with orange heads.

Eli stole my heart in so many ways, on so many levels. From his trying to find a way to make their wedding special for Priscilla, to his reaction to her on their wedding night… and then when the rubber, or rather hoof, meets the road, he does not fail to maintain his swoon-worthiness. Tall, strong, rustic in his good looks… sigh. His physical scars only made him more attractive! Yes, Eli did little but be himself to garner my affections. 

 About Eli's author Jody Hedlund:

Jody Hedlund is an award-winning historical romance novelist and author of the best-selling book, The Preacher's Bride. She received a bachelor's degree from Taylor University and a master's from the University of Wisconsin, both in Social Work. Currently she makes her home in Michigan with her husband and five busy children. Publisher's Weekly called her newest book Unending Devotion, "a meaty tale of life amid the debauchery of the lumber camps of 1880s Michigan . . . exciting and unpredictable to the very end." 

Visit her website at www.jodyhedlund.com

The FHF exclusive directly from the author:

If you've read The Doctor's Lady, you'll quickly realize that Eli had a pretty rough childhood. His father died early, and Eli holds himself responsible (and his mother does too) for his father's death. His mother remarried, and Eli's stepfather was a cruel man, abusing Eli's sisters and constantly belittling Eli.

It's no wonder that Eli has a lot of baggage from his past to deal with throughout the story!

However, in the early version of The Doctor's Lady, I developed a much angrier Eli, an Eli who was very bitter about his past. He felt inferior to Priscilla because of his poor family, and he was angry with Priscilla because of how wealthy and spoiled she was.

In making Eli so influenced by his past, I ended up with a hero who was completely unlikable. He'd become weak, whiny, and bitter.  And when my editors read the book for the first time, they didn't like him at all. So, I had to begin the hard work of rewriting his character, making him stronger, kinder, and more heroic.

I learned that authors need to have realistic characters who have flaws and are indeed shaped by their past, but we also have to be careful to keep them likable! And that's often a tough balance.

Amazon   Barnes & Noble   Christianbook.com

The Giveaways:


One copy of The Doctor's Lady (winner's choice of format, print or ebook)

For existing readers, $10 Amazon or Barnes & Noble giftcard.
IMPORTANT: For the giftcard drawing, as always we need the name of a character not used in the excerpt or the feature and once that character has been used, please choose another.

Please include if you would like to be entered for the book or for the gift card. If your profile won't let me look up your e-mail, please include your address in a spam fighting format like thedoc at ernest dot com.

Winners will be announced on Mar. 14th, 2013
One more thing. I want to know if the hero girls think it was more difficult to be a doctor in the 1800's than it is now in modern times and why?


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