Since her assault, Miss Annette Chetwynd has been plagued by nightmares and worries about an arranged marriage. But she yearns to find her anonymous rescuer. Unfortunately, her health and intellect prevent it. Both repel suitors and cause Annette to doubt God’s existence, at least until He answers her prayers in an unusual way …
Mr. Peter Adsley is joining the clergy, and he desires a godly wife by his side. After his failed attempt to obtain one, he engages in a clandestine meeting with the bewitching young woman who keeps crossing his path. But she is so unsettling.
Destined for disappointments, Peter and Annette endure disgraceful situations. Will Peter’s faith sustain him through overwhelming setbacks? Can Annette overcome her doubts? Or will their starving hearts yield to the machinations of a mad man?
About the Author
Janine Mendenhall teaches teens English, of all things! Sometimes she sleeps, but most nights she reads, writes, or watches movies like Pride and Prejudice and claims she’s researching her next book. Splickety Love and Splickety Prime have published her flash fiction. She and her husband, Tom, live in North Carolina where they and their two golden retrievers help gratify the needs of their five children and two cats.
Starving Hearts is the laudable debut from Janine Mendenhall, blending historical romance and suspense genres. Surprisingly absent from the publisher issued synopsis is that a significant portion of novel grapples with the African slave trade and fight of abolitionists.
In the first chapters Annette is a bit too querulous to be wholly endearing to readers, but she redeems herself as a protagonist as the story progresses. Overall, I had longed for more character development from the whole cast. The villain’s point of view was the strength of the cast and I found him to be the most layered and intriguing. I was more motivated to read by the prevailing themes and detailed historical context than any particular emotional bond with the characters.
Some passages and phrases came across as overindulgent bordering on superfluous-the author clearly trying to adopt the vernacular and cadence of the era, but perhaps slightly overshooting with overwrought sentences. As a prolific Regency reader, I felt disconnected from the story as it was more of an observant rather than an immersive reading experience. While the style is not quite mastered, there is a certain fluidity to the writing that is charming and reflective of a talent that is promising with some refinement.
With this debut, Janine Mendenhall has demonstrated potential and is sure to capture an audience with the next two instalments in this series.
**Disclosure: Thank you to Litfuse Publicity for a copy of the book in exchange for my honest review**