Today, I’m hosting author Linda Griffin’s latest release Bridges, a historical romance. Be sure to read my review. And don’t forget to enter the Rafflecopter giveaway.
Blurb: In 1963, Neil Vincent, a middle-aged World War II veteran and “Christian atheist,” is working at Westfield Court as a chauffeur. He spends most of his spare time reading. Mary Claire DeWinter is a young, blind Catholic college student and reluctant heiress. To secure her inheritance, she has to marry within a year, and her aunt is pressuring her to marry a rich man who teased and bullied her when she was a child. Neil and Mary Claire shouldn’t even be friends, but the gulf between them is bridged by a shared love of books. Can they cross the bridge to more?
“To my beloved granddaughter, Miss Mary Claire St. James DeWinter, my sole surviving grandchild,”—as if poor, disowned Phillip no longer existed—“the house at Westfield Court and all my remaining possessions and assets—” Edna St. James sat very straight in her chair and glared balefully at her niece, and several of the others gasped, but Mr. Prentice was not finished. “Providing only that she fulfill two necessary stipulations. Firstly, that she permit my daughter-in-law, Mrs. Edna Carrington St. James, widow of my beloved son Marcus, to remain in residence at Westfield Court for as long as she lives, and Secondly, that she, as a young woman in need of protection and guidance, marry within one year of my death and remain married. If she fails to marry within the stipulated time or is divorced or widowed and fails to remarry within a year, Westfield Court and the entire estate is to be bequeathed to the State of Massachusetts, for whatever purposes it may deem fit.”
Everyone stared at Mary Claire. She was so white that her scars were more visible in contrast, and Neil half rose from his chair in case she was about to faint.
“Is that even legal?” Mrs. St. James demanded.
“Yes, ma’am,” said Mr. Prentice. “I believe it is.”
“After all the years I spent managing this house, not to mention his precious Marcus, he’s left me at the mercy of this little—” She rose to her feet, bristling with injured dignity, and stalked out of the room.
A good blurb always gets me, and this blurb did the trick. The stakes are high. An atheist and a Catholic. A chauffeur and an heiress. May/December. And she is blind with many scars on her face after suffering a tragic car accident. I was in, and the author didn’t disappoint.
First off, the characters. I adored both. Mary Claire DeWinter is a lovely eighteen-year-old who comes from a good family who’s lost their fortune after the grandfather, who is on his death bed, disinherited her father. Although naïve in many aspects of life, she’s always extremely wise and mature in others. I liked this about her, since it allowed the right amount of balance for a teenager in 1963.
As for Neil Prescott, a man who’s seen war, he is content being the chauffeur for the family estate while living above the garage, lost in the many books he enjoys reading. When he is tasked with fetching Mary Claire from the train station, his life changes.
I enjoyed the many differences between the two, who are very good people. They not only bond over books, they bond over their beliefs. The romance is slow burn, starting with friendship. Neither expects more, and doesn’t seem to want more either, but the longer they are together, Cupid sneaks up on them, especially when Mary Claire finds herself needing to marry if she is to inherit her grandfather’s estate.
Told exclusively from Neil’s POV, the reader is taken to a quiet place of lovely grounds, the beauty of nature, a bridge Neil loathes crossing on foot, and many questions about life.
This is a wonderful romance that is quite realistic. The growth of the characters isn’t a huge leap, but one that comes with slight changes that occur when meeting someone very different. Each character keeps an open mind to the other’s beliefs, and they are quite accepting, too.
I didn’t see it as a Christian romance, or a religious romance. I saw it as two people with different views, and their views wound up being not so different. Do yourself a favour and get yourself a copy. You won’t be disappointed. My only quibble is I wished Mary Claire would’ve had a POV. I think this would have allowed the reader to fully immerse themselves in both characters, instead of seeing Mary Claire throw only Neil’s eyes.
Linda Griffin is a native of San Diego and has a BA in English from San Diego State University and an MLS from UCLA. As soon as learned to read, she knew she wanted to be a “book maker” and wrote her first story at the age of six. She retired from a position as fiction librarian for the San Diego Public Library to spend more time on her writing.
Her stories have been published in numerous journals, including Eclectica, Thema, The Binnacle, Orbis, and mostly recently The Adirondack Review. Bridges is her fifth novel published by the Wild Rose Press, following Seventeen Days (2018), The Rebound Effect (2019, Guilty Knowledge (2020), and Love, Death, and the Art of Cooking (2021).
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