At the snapping of a twig Annalisa turned with a start, and the story of "Lily and the Lion" died on her lips.
Her gaze combed the woods. The bare branches allowed her to see a fair distance in all directions. In late March the trees were gray and dull, brittle from the long winter and still devoid of leaves except for a few withered clusters that had forgotten to let go in the fall. The only sign of life within the towering maples was the sap that had begun to flow.
"More, Mama." Gretchen looked up at her, eyes wide with expectation. Even with a knit scarf covering her head and ears and a double layer of clothes, Gretchen's teeth chattered and her thin body shook. The spring sunshine didn't lend any warmth to the lingering winter temperatures.
But the story had accomplished its purpose and kept Gretchen from thinking about how cold she was and the fact that her threadbare coat wouldn't keep even the smallest mouse warm. Just the thought of carrying the heavy bucketful of sap back to the cabin made her tired.
"So, the next morning, Lily asked the way she was to go." Annalisa hung the empty pail back onto the spout and then reached for the handle of the bigger collecting bucket. "Finally she took leave of her papa and went forth with a bold heart into the woods to face the lion."
With a huff Annalisa lifted the bucket, grasping it with two hands, trying to get a firm grip. It was heavier than her load earlier in the day.
"Gretchen," said said, already short of breath. "You'll need to help Mama carry the bucket."
Gretchen didn't say anything or make an effort to move.
"Be a good girl." Annalisa hefted the bucket.
A strange voice came from behind her, speaking in Deutsch. "I don't think the father should have let Lily go off alone to face the lion, do you?"
Annalisa gasped, dropped the bucket with a thud, and spun around to face the intruder.
A man casually leaned against the nearby silver maple, a bag tossed over his shoulder.
Who was he, and how long had he been listening to her story? Annalist reached for Gretchen and tugged the little girl against her skirt.
"If Lily had been my daughter, I wouldn't have allowed her to go." The stranger lifted a fashionable derby from his head revealing dark hair that was the same rich brown as freshly plowed soil.
"No," he continued, "if I'd been Lily's father, I would have sacrificed my life and gone in her stead."
The words stopped Annalisa. A vater sacrificing his life for a mere daughter? What kind of man would do such a thing? Certainly not her vater. Sure, Vater loved her. But she was only a girl and could never be like a son to him, no matter how good she was.
As if sensing her discomfort, the stranger pushed away from the tree and straightened. "The Brothers Grimm are fine storytellers, but occasionally I find myself wishing for a slightly different version of a story or two."
In the latest novel by Jody Hedlund, A Noble Groom enchants the reader from the first page. First by procuring the reader as an ally to the plight to Annalisa Werner who has found herself a recent widow and needs help on the farm to pay off the debt before the fall otherwise she will lose it to the bank or to the conniving plots of E.B. Ward to obtain the land to build a sawmill business. Next she builds the tension so you are hoping for a solution instead of the way of her people to find a suitable husband for her despite her wishes to marry a man she loves, regardless of how he treats her like property instead of someone to love and cherish.
Next we encounter the problematic situation happening a world away as Carl von Riechart is able to escape his execution thanks in part to his father's plan to send him away to America. Even though Carl is sure that he is innocent of the crimes against him, he is forced to take a steamer to America and go into hiding of one of his manservant's brothers and help his niece out on the farm until her husband can arrange for passage to marry her. He is told not to divulge his identity or risk being discovered and sent back to face his death once again at the gallows.
I received The Noble Groom by Jody Hedlund compliments of Bethany House Publishers and Litfuse Publicity for my honest review and received no monetary compensation for a favorable one. I was in awe of the elements of this story from the time, Carl spoke his first words to Annalisa in the except above. It is a twist on a historical fairytale for me and one that is guaranteed to make any women's heart swoon at Carl's tender and noble kindness that waters the parched soul of Annalisa's broken heart. She believes that it's possible to find love, but it is only in the stories she reads to her daughter Gretchen. It isn't until she is won over by Carl's kindness that she is willing to believe that love can exist for real and hopes that her groom may never arrive to claim her after all. Her heart is captivated by Carl's charm and exceptional good looks. I've had an opportunity now to read, every single one of Jody Hedlund's book and this is another winner in my opinion. If you have ever wanted a fairytale you can believe in, this is IT! Hands down a 5 out of 5 star winner and has found a coveted place on my permanent library shelf.
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- Paperback: 368 pages
- Publisher: Bethany House Publishers (April 1, 2013)
- Language: English
- ISBN-10: 0764210475
- ISBN-13: 978-0764210471
- Product Dimensions: 5.5 x 1.1 x 8.5 inches
- A Kindle Fire
- A copy of A Noble Groom by Jody Hedlund
So grab your copy of A Noble Groom and join Jody on the evening of May 8th for a chance to connect and make some new friends. (If you haven't read the book, don't let that stop you from coming!)