June 15, 2013

Carl Richards / Gottfried Charles von Reichart III

I dragged my feet on reading this book. As much as the hero girls were clamoring for Carl to make an appearance, I quietly lived in fear that delightful man on the cover wouldn't live up to all the hype. So A Noble Groom kept hovering in the number 2 spot in my to-be-read pile from his nominations. Then his name turned up so many times in the Guess the Hero post last month, I knew I better get his novel read and at least give him a chance before I lost all credibility as a fiction hero expert.

After downloading the book I wanted to get a few chapters read before bed. Ha. What a joke. It's okay to laugh at me. I'm laughing at me right now. My email request to Jody at 3:06 a.m. that same morning began with this line. "Okay now I feel stupid for having waited so long to read this."

Carl lived up to his cover, to all the hype around this novel and then some. He was such a different hero right away, a little arrogant and a lot cerebral. In fairness that's part of the charm. A nobleman physicist inventor with a lab full of every chemical imaginable turned gentleman vagabond fugitive. God knew exactly what He was doing as the difficult task of following Michael Hosea was going to require a special hero indeed. Carl Richards was the right one for sure.

About A Noble Groom (released April 1, 2013):

Recently widowed Annalisa Werner has the feeling her husband was murdered but can't prove it. Alone with her young daughter in 1881 Michigan, she has six months left to finish raising the money needed to pay back the land contract her husband purchased, and the land is difficult to toil by herself. She needs a husband. With unmarried men scarce, her father sends a letter to his brother in the Old Country, asking him to find Annalisa a groom.

For nobleman Carl von Reichart, the blade of the guillotine is his fate. He's been accused and convicted of a serious crime he didn't commit, and his only escape is to flee to a small German community in Michigan where he'll be safe. He secures a job on Annalisa's farm but bumbles through learning about farming and manual labor.

Annalisa senses that Carl is harboring a secret about his past, yet she finds herself drawn to him anyway. He's gentle, kind, and romantic--unlike any of the men she's ever known. He begins to restore her faith in the ability to love--but her true groom is still on his way. And time is running out on them all.

Excerpt from A Noble Groom:

          The flicker from the long match lit the narrow chamber and revealed a torch on the wall. Matthias wasted no time in lighting it and leading the way into a tunnel.
          "Let's pray there are no collapses in the wall or ceiling." Matthias stooped low.
          Carl's back grazed the top of the tunnel, and he had to arch his neck at an awkward angle to see Matthias. "I take it my father hasn't been down here in a while?"
          "There haven't been too many sieges recently."
          The wryness of Matthias's tone brought a sense of renewed calm to Carl's spirit. "True." He inhaled a deep breath of the earthiness of wet soil.
          "So where am I going?"
          Carl stumbled to a halt. "You cannot be serious."
          America was a place for homeless serfs, unhappy peasants, and discontent miners. He'd heard his father tell more than one of his employees who'd come to him with complaints over wages or working conditions, "If you don't like it, go to America."
          That distant country an ocean away was not a place for a nobleman like him.
          "I couldn't possibly go there."
          Matthias stopped, and his eyes censured him. "What? You're too good for America?"
          "There must be a place more suitable to my status."
          "Well, now you're penniless and homeless." Matthias started forward. "So you'll fit right in."
          "What about England?" Maybe he could find another position as a tutor. Or a professor at one of the universities.
          "And if Lord Faust hears of your return?"
          Carl sighed. If his former employer, Lord Faust, discovered he'd stepped foot in England, the man would track him down and put a bullet in his heart. Lord Faust wanted him dead just as much as the duke did.
          "So there's no other place?" He scrambled after Matthias.
          For a moment they trudged in silence, the steady drip of runoff water echoing with their footsteps. The light of the torch illuminated the winding tunnel, aiding their navigation through the roots and stones. The damp chill penetrated Carl's coat, and he tried to shake off the depressing thought of having to leave his homeland.
          He should be grateful. The Lord had graciously answered his prayers and decided to spare his life. He would get to keep his head on his body--if he made it out of the tunnel and the castle without being caught.
          But America? Could he really go there? It was so far away. So foreign. A place for poor dissidents. Besides, where would he live?
          "You'll go live with my brother," Matthias said as if he'd overheard Carl's thoughts.
          "I didn't know you had a brother."
          Matthias snorted.
          And its echo in the tunnel confronted Carl and made him stumble with shame. How much did he know about the personal life of his faithful servant who'd been a part of his father's household for more years than Carl had lived?
          Apparently not much.
          "I received a letter from my brother two days ago. He wants me to send him a groom for one of his widowed daughters."
          "Wait a minute!" Carl straightened and bumped his head against the rocky soil of the ceiling, sending a shower of dirt down upon himself. "If I must go to America, then so be it. But I won't marry a complete stranger as part of the deal."
          Matthias stopped and turned. The torchlight cast long, eerie shadows over the walls and turned his servant's face into that of a ghoul. "Of course you won't marry my niece." His voice was hard, and the glimmer in his eyes pierced Carl with a strange shaft of guilt.
          Certainly Matthias knew he couldn't marry a woman who wasn't of noble birth.
          "I'm sure your niece is a nice enough girl." For a peasant.

Excerpt used with permission. All rights reserved.

Gallant Score

Carl is a good man in every sense of the term. He's authentic and as often as he wants to run from a challenge, his sense of honor and decorum won't allow it. So much of the pleasure of this read is following Carl through his journey from "that guy" above, hehe, to the satisfied sigh of awesome when you reach the end. Therefore I'm going to tread extra light and stay spoiler free. Carl's nobility runs deeper than his blood. In the depths of his spirit, he is all that is noble and good in a hero and the reader is treated to that side of him again and again. It never stops bothering Carl that he's deceiving everyone with his identity, not because he wanted the recognition, but because he knew it was wrong. Then there was that moment in the field when he "fell" and tried to order Annalisa and her daughter to leave him and save themselves. This hero-girl teared up and was so proud of him, even more than when he took on the, we'll say "bad man," knowing with his smaller stature he stood zero chance of coming out on top of that fight.

Wounded Score

Carl has a past and some history, but no emotional baggage or unhealed wounds of the past to overcome. So that I loved him as much as I did as quickly as I did completely surprised me. He's going to get several direct hits to the heart deep in the novel, but how he weathers them is part of why he is here. 

Softie Score

No woman can read this book and not fall in love with Carl. I'm very comfortable making that claim and now understand why the hero-girls clamored long and loud for Carl to be featured. If I'm ever blessed with a daughter of my own, I want her to have her own magic talking horsey to ride on his back, save her puppy, and tell her stories. Every little girl deserves a Carl Richards. This side of him really hit hard for me when he recounted his one battle as a soldier. What he had to do, what he went through because of it, and I'll tell you guys, it made me hate what war does in the hearts and lives of those who wage it all the more.

Stupid Strikes

No. The red-blooded American in me wants to pop him one here for his early views on America, LOL, but I can't. The thought of giving Carl a stupid strike makes me nauseous, he is THAT GREAT a hero.  

Swoon Score

Yep. I've been doing this over a year now and judging by how much the blog has grown in that time, I'm pretty good at it. Now who's arrogant? LOL. Seriously though, I'm only saying that because even so, I know I couldn't fully capture the awesome that is Gottfried Charles von Reichart III, better known as Carl Richards. Or horsey, depending on who is calling him, hehe. I don't need to tell you he's handsome. The cover does that. I've shown you in his scoring there is so much more to him than that and urging you not to make the mistake I made. Read it now. Seriously, don't wait to see if you win it. Borrow it from a friend. Sell some stuff on Craig's list for guilt free book-buying. Carl is SO worth it.

Jody Hedlund is an award-winning historical romance novelist and author of the bestselling Unending Devotion and The Preacher's Bride. She holds a bachelor's degree from Taylor University and a master's degree from the University of Wisconsin, both in social work. Jody lives in Michigan with her husband and five busy children. Learn more at JodyHedlund.com.

This is Jody's second hero to appear here at FHF, the first being Dr. Eli Ernest from The Doctor's Lady.

Jody's schedule didn't permit our FHF exclusive, but we thank her first for writing us an orange-head worthy hero and second for sharing him here with us.

Amazon   Barnes & Noble   Christianbooks.com

The giveaways

I'm as serious as a wildfire you should just buy this book now. But because I know I'm not the only one with more books I want than paycheck I'm going to give away a copy too. Be sure you tell me in the comments to enter you in the drawing for the book, print or e-book, winner's choice.

(Note: After I wrote that, I felt compelled to add I don't mean to be insensitive to our friends and family in Colorado. Please continue to pray for them. Wildfire has always been deadly, requiring quick thinking and courage. A Noble Groom readers will see that was as true in 1881 as it is today.)

For existing readers, you all know the drill. Leave me the name of a character not used in the excerpt. Once that character's name has been used, you'll need to choose another. That drawing is for a $10 giftcard to Amazon or Barnes & Noble, winner's choice.

Winners will be randomly drawn at midnight central time on June 29th. Now let's talk. For those who have read this, let's rave on Carl and convince the rest of them he's a must read. =)


Gretchen K. Engel said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Gretchen K. Engel said...

You had me at "a little arrogant and a lot cerebral." A chemist who's a nobleman, I can't think of a better combination for a hero.
Pair his background with intrigue and the handsome brown-haired, brown-eyed man on the cover and you have my ultimate hero.
You did well for a guy who has to follow Michael Hosea.
I haven't gotten to enjoy Carl and Annalisa's story, but you can bet that I will.

Joy W. Doering said...

"But because I know I'm not the only one with more books I want than paycheck I'm going to give away a copy too." -and for that, we thank you! :) Especially when it's hubby's paycheck, and not mine.
I confess, I am shallow enough to want to read Carl's story based solely on the book cover. And it's not just the model- something about it intrigues me. I think it's the wind. ;) Therefore, my shallow self would prefer a good old fashioned book, if you please! Can't wait to dive into A Noble Groom.
jd family zero8 (at) yahoo dot com

Dawn Crandall said...

I read this book the moment in came to my mailbox. All the way through in the matter of a day. I'll mention cousin Dirk. This is one of my favorite books of all time... but I say that about all of Jody's books. :) She has some serious talent pouring from that brilliant mind of hers.

Dawn Crandall said...

Gretchen, you're going to adore it!!

Melissa Jagears said...

Yay! He's the first hero I put in your nominate a hero thing. Glad you got over your reservations and read it!Herr Mueller plays the accordion in the barn scene. But my favorite scene? The one in the rain. :)

Samantha Kuiper said...

Carl is definitely swoon worthy! I am glad he made unto Fiction Hero Features. I haven't had a chance to read this book, but I will fix that soon :)


Lisa Godfrees said...

I totally love that cover. He looks like the guy who plays Cyclops from the X-Men. Enter me in the drawing!

Anonymous said...

I love Jody's books and am anxious to read this one! Please enter me in the drawing......THANKS!
Jackie Smith

Nancy Kimball said...

Haha. Good to know. =) Thanks!

Nancy Kimball said...

Joy, there is nothing wrong with that! I want and will read Ronie Kendig's Raptor 6 when it comes out JUST FOR THE COVER. Here, go see and scroll down. BEST part is the model is a real soldier too!

Nancy Kimball said...

I also read it straight through! I loved it. I've only read Unending Devotion and liked that one a lot but I LOVED this one. Jody is super sweet too to work getting me the cover image and permissions in time.

DIRK will be your character for the drawing.

Nancy Kimball said...

Thanks, Melissa! That was a great scene, wasn't it? =)

HERR MUELLER will be your character for the drawing.

Nancy Kimball said...

He is for sure! Thanks, Samantha. =)

Nancy Kimball said...

Me too and I can see that now that you mention it. Thanks, Lisa! =)

Nancy Kimball said...

You got it, Jackie. =)

KayM said...

I haven't read The Noble Groom, but it is definitely on my WL. After reading your review, I am quite determined to get to it sooner than later! I would love to be entered in the drawing. Thank you.
may_dayzee (at) yahoo (dot) com

Erynn said...

This cover keeps popping up everywhere I go online. It's been on my TBR list for months. I'd LOVE to win a copy--paper, so I can look at that handsome face whenever I want. ENewman(at)outlook(dot)com

Heidi said...

I haven't read this author yet, so I'd love to be entered to win an e-book version! Thanks for the great review!

Sheri said...

I have read all of Jody's books so far except this one. . . I would love to win a copy of it. (Paper copy please)I love having a man on the cover!!


Nancy Kimball said...

Good! That's what we're about here. =) Nice to see you back, Kay!

Nancy Kimball said...

I know. Same here. Everytime I would say it because it had a huge launch, HUGE, on all the blogs and book review sites I follow. Everywhere. Kind of like Stealing the Preacher right now, hehe. So I started to get resentful because I've had experiences where the expectations gets so big in my mind that it's a let down when I finally spend ten bucks because I couldn't win the thing and then read it and am like, um... okay. LOL. But this one was great. Carl was great. He was just so... different. I mean, I'm pretty witty, so I can appreciate when someone else is, and Carl's wit and sense of humor that would have turned cynical in lesser men when they lost everything was so refreshing. He was a great character and I like seeing his face when I'm rolling through the covers in my kindle, hehe. He'll stay there. =)

Nancy Kimball said...

Oh Heidi, welcome and start with this one. I've read it and Unending Devotion and another of her novels, The Doctor's Lady, has been featured here by my friend Whitney. That one is still in my TBR too. Welcome again. =)

Nancy Kimball said...

Welcome, Sheri! And, YEAH, me too! I get nervous when the hero isn't even on the cover. Dani Pettrey likes to do that to me but one FINALLY made it on the third cover in the Alaskan Courage series. This was SO my kind of cover but like it's been said by Erynn, I'd seen it EVERYWHERE and started to wonder if it was like an Abercrombie Model--the best part is the outside. I love being WRONG. =) Carl is a great hero but his and Annalisa's story is really good too.

Cyndi said...

Glad to have found you via Jody's facebook! LOVED your high recommendation! It was already on my TBR list... now it's jumped up to the top! ;-) Win one or not, I'll definitely be checking it out in print! Thanks!


Cyndi said...

And, not sure if I'm doing this right but, my character is Gretchen, Annalisa's daughter. :)

Nancy Kimball said...

Hi Cyndi and welcome to FHF! GOOD! That's where it should be. Spare yourself the "i need to be slapped with a farm-raised catfish" feeling of having waited to read it. It's not fun! LOL. A LOT of books get recommended to me. About 50% for the blog. I have to take those into consideration with who has been nominated here in the site. Then I have to go to reviews and with a brand spanking new book it's hard to tell from a scant number of reviews what is driving the 4 and 5 stars. The story or the hero or both. Then it's rubber meet the road time and in most cases I have to purchase the book myself to read it and see if it makes the cut. If the author or publisher sends it to me, I commit to influence it with reviews but FHF is its own baby. No one makes it to the blog unless they meet all the criteria, free book or not. So when these "men" earn their orange heads, its honestly and as big an honor for me to have found them (with help from the hero girls!) as it is for their authors to have them featured (or so they tell me, hehe.) =)

Nancy Kimball said...

It's okay, you're new here but we love that. =) But no, it's either the gift card drawing for those who have already read it or the drawing for the book for those still on the wish list.
But since you used a character name up, we'll put you in the giftcard drawing. If you win that you can buy a copy. And you'll want to. I promise! =)

GRETCHEN has been used for the GC drawing.

Waving at GKE. I wanted it to be a surprise the heroine's daughter has your name.=)

Cyndi said...

Love it! You definitely have a new follower! ;-)

Cyndi said...

oops! Ok, now I understand. hehe

Nancy Kimball said...

No worries! We're all friends (and hero-girls) here. =)

Joy W. Doering said...

I saw this book when you shared it on FB. :) It is sweet looking & I absolutely love that they used a real hero for the cover. His uniform reminds me some of Stargate Atlantis & SG-1.

Anonymous said...

I would like to win A Noble Groom please! I'd like the ereader version for my Nook Color. My email is gngrbnks@yahoo.com. Thanks! Ginger

Pam K. said...

I'm glad I'm not the only one who fell in love with Carl while reading A Noble Groom! What a hero! I'm glad I have a print copy of the book; I did enjoy looking back at the cover as I read.
I was going to mention Gretchen as another favorite character, but I see someone already did, so I'll say Idette. She wasn't really a favorite, but I felt so sorry for her.
This is such a terrific book. There were parts that made me laugh, parts that made me cry, and parts that made me sigh with contentment! It's certainly a keeper for my bookshelf.


Lynda E. said...

I'm loving this blog--just discovered it! Please enter me in the drawing for a print copy should I win. danandlyndaedwards(at)msn(dot)com.

Veronica Sternberg said...

I'd love to win a paper copy! I've heard great things about this book! shopgirl152nykiki(at)yahoo(dot)com

Patty said...

I actually have a copy of this book in my TBR stack. Sounds like I need to move it to the top! I've read all of Jody's books and I guess I was just a bit disappointed with her last one, so I have been putting this one off.

So even thought I haven't read it I don't need a copy, but would love an gift card=)

I opened the first page of the book and the first person named is Hans, Annalisa's husband.


Marissa said...

I read this book and loved it!! It was one of the ones I guessed for your post last month! :) My character for the gift card drawing is Ward.

Thanks for all the prayers for us here in Colorado. They are much appreciated!


Nancy Kimball said...

Hey Ginger, we'll get you in there. =) Thx for stopping by.

Nancy Kimball said...

I know, right? =) My heart went out to Idette too. Loved it when Carl tells you know who "or I shall have to thrash you... "

IDETTE is your character for the giftcard drawing.

Nancy Kimball said...

Hi Lynda, we love it too. =) Glad to meet you and look forward to getting to know your hero of choice.

Nancy Kimball said...

Great to see you back, Veronica. =)

Nancy Kimball said...

Patty, move it to the top. B/C what is going to happen is you'll lament not having enjoyed it sooner when you do read it. And it's not a fun feeling!!!

HANS we'll take and get you in the giftcard drawing.

Nancy Kimball said...

Hey Marissa, you got it my friend. Praying God will send the rain soon and preserve lives. And YOU are part of why Carl finally made it here. Wait, let me back up. Part of why Nancy knocked the chip off her shoulder and bought the book and read it, hehe. I confess I have a REALLY hard time paying ten bucks for an e-book. But now that I've actually read this one, it was worth it. Very worth it. =)

Anonymous said...

This book looks so good, I would love to be entered in a drawing for a paperback copy of A Noble Groom. I love Jody's books.

Katie J.

Angi said...

Nancy, loved your feature on Carl. I'll admit (like another reader did), it was the cover that really got me on this one. It just looks intriguing, BUT after reading your FHF review, I'm ready to take the plunge and read Carl's story. He sounds wonderful. So, I'd like to enter for a hard copy of A Noble Groom, please. Thanks!


Nancy Kimball said...

Hey, hero-girls! I'm a member of Christian Fiction Devourers on goodreads and guess what book we're discussing right now? =D Hop on over!

A Noble Groom Book Talk on goodreads

Nancy Kimball said...

It lives up to that cover and SO much more, Katie. =)

Nancy Kimball said...

Angi, you're among the hero-girls. We don't confess or admit, we giggle and say YAY when we get a swoon-worthy cover to match the hero inside. =) Great to "see" you as always!

Stacey said...

You hit on a good one, Nancy! I just love a good hero! Welcome to the "Carl" club.

No need to add me to the drawing.

Gretchen K. Engel said...

I got spoiled but that's OK :-)

Martha A. said...

Great book and you hit the hero scores well!
I am trying to find a character not mentioned by the other readers. I already have a copy of The Noble groom, so I would be put in for the drawing for the card, I guess!

My character that I will mention is Idette, AnnaLisa's sister.

Nicole said...

Hello! I would love to be entered for a chance to win the giveaway! I love Jody's books and am looking forward to reading this one as soon as I can get a copy! thanks!


Nancy Kimball said...

Thanks, Stacey. I LOVE being in the Carl club. =)

Nancy Kimball said...

Thank you, Martha! Welcome to FHF. Appreciate the nod on the scoring. Idette was already used and I'm sorry for not letting you know sooner. I've been a busy girl this feature. Working on the next one, like always!

Nancy Kimball said...

Nicole, we got you in there. Welcome to FHF.

Nancy Kimball said...

Okay, I found a new faster way to get your names into Random.org to find our winners. YAY!

Winner of the copy of A Noble Groom is KATIE J!
Winner of the $10 Amazon or B&N giftcard is MARISSA.

Thank you everyone SO much. You are all awesome. As is Carl. =)