Today, I’m hosting author J.A. Boulet’s latest release The Origins, book four in the Olason Chronicles, a historical romance. Be sure to read my review. And don’t forget to enter the Rafflecopter giveaway.
A young mother, Mt Askja and an unbreakable love.
Blurb: In the harsh landscapes of Iceland in 1850, a young girl loses her mother and struggles to grow into a woman alone with only her father’s help. Throughout the breathtaking 20-hour daylight summers and the bleak darkness of winters, Margret falls in love and dreams of a large family but the path to her future is rougher than she expected. The Origins will take you back in time delighting you with endearing Icelandic heritage, visual feasts for the mind and gripping you with the struggle to stay alive on a volatile island.
Experience the rich journey of a 19th century woman who proves that even the weakest people can become stronger than anything you can imagine.
Margret stirred the soup slowly on the iron stove, worrying about her mother. She had always had a wheezy breath, and sometimes in the fields, she would start coughing hoarsely. In the middle of a harvest, she would take many breaks to catch her breath.
When influenza came into their home, Momma had nursed both her and her Pappa better with soups, hot drinks, blankets and loving care.
Now Momma was sick.
Some people had died from this nasty influenza. A few adults succumbed, and many babies died. Margret wrapped her momma’s red shawl around her shoulders and shivered. She couldn’t imagine a life without her momma. It was unfathomable. Momma would just simply have to survive. She must be here with them.
Margret would have to think positively. Such thoughts were like the devil trying to enter her brain. She had heard the pastor at the church say such things. That must be what it is, she thought.
She gazed through the kitchen window across the bleak frozen landscape. Iceland had some bad winters, but mostly it was bearable. Drift ice along the shores in the north brought cold weather along the eastern side of the island, and this past year was colder than usual. They lived on a sheep ranch near Horn. It was an expansive hilly countryside with beautiful views of the ocean to the east, and the mountainous regions rose to the west.
It was quite sunny today, and the weather was pleasant enough to lift her hopes. It was the start of spring and a new beginning. They had harvested all the weak animals before the last harsh winter, the neighbourhood community chipping in to help. Even Margret had been out in the fields tending to the vegetable crops and helping to build shelters for the remaining animals. The winter was typical, cool but pleasant with the ocean air, until January when the winter struck hard, with freezing temperatures and blowing winds. Sometimes the door would stick, the wooden frame swelling in the humidity, imprisoning them all in their home.
Margret sometimes wished she could fly away on a bird’s wings to a different country, somewhere more pleasant, somewhere easier. Her eyes glazed over as the sun shone brightly into the kitchen, warming her hands.
She was only a child, but she had her share of life’s tribulations. Her younger brother had died at birth, and her mother could not conceive again. The doctor said the blood in her uterus was no longer any good. Margret wondered if such talk was true or just a simple explanation for a complex problem.
The soup began to boil, and she grabbed the oven mittens. Margret lifted the pot to the side table, placing it on a large ceramic cooling pad. She ladled hot soup into three bowls. Hopefully, Momma would eat. She sat down and waited patiently for the bowls to cool enough to take one to Momma. Margret laid her chin in her hands and daydreamed across the bleak landscape. One day, she would grow up, fall in love with a handsome man and have many children of her own. She looked forward to that day. Margret always wanted a big family.
The longcase clock chimed at 2 o’clock in the afternoon. The sound awakened her out of the daydreaming.
She tested the soup with a small spoon and blew on it. It was cooled enough. She would feed her mother, and Momma would get better.
When I saw that the story was set in historical Iceland, I was in. I am always looking for something new and different, and having a romance set in Iceland was right up my alley, and the author did not disappoint.
As stated in the blurb, Margaret is young when she loses her mother and is left with her father to raise her. She matures fast, having to step up to keep the home since she is the only woman in the house, while her father tends to their sheep farm.
Growing up, Margaret is naturally curious and also confused about her sexuality that is blooming, especially when a man named Magnus enters the picture, who is from the other side of Iceland. Then there is her father’s responsible and reliable worker Elias who has taken a shine to Margaret, but she’s not aware of him, seeing him only as a friend.
I enjoyed the love triangle trope, although I wouldn’t call it a true triangle, but it did make me wonder who she’d end up with. And I won’t say any more on this because I don’t want to spoil it for the reader.
The book is so much more than romance, too. It’s about Margaret’s journey into womanhood, and her survival in Iceland with so much danger to face, such as the rumbles from Mount Askja, the cranky volcano that so far has remained quiet, but is threatening to erupt. There is the tough life she lives as the daughter of a sheep farmer. I really enjoyed the details given of the sheep farming, along with the wonderful descriptions of everyday life in Iceland.
I had no idea this was a series. I went into this thinking the book was a standalone historical romance, because the ending is slightly abrupt, but now I see why it ended the way it did, and it suits the series. But if you read it as a standalone, you will find yourself thinking, “Well, what happens next?” Read the series and you will find out what happens next.
Margaret is a very likeable character, someone the readers can root for. The same for Elias. He’s a steady hand offering Margaret comfort in her roller-coaster world external factors have thrown her way.
I also enjoyed the narrative. It doesn’t use the standard deep POV found in the majority of romance novels. Instead, it’s part deep POV, part omniscient, and head-hopping. I didn’t find this off-putting in the least but refreshing because the author is good at this method she uses.
Do yourself a favour and get a copy. This is more than romance, but a woman’s story of hardship and triumph.
J. A. Boulet is the passionate author of The Olason Chronicles, a historical saga of war, courage, love and strength. Her newest novel The Origins Book 4, the final book in the series, is being released on June 8, 2022. J. A. Boulet was born and raised in Western Canada as a first generation Canadian from European descent. Her father enlisted with the Hungarian military and fought bravely during the 1956 Hungarian Revolution, changing sides to stand up for what he believed in. He was granted asylum in Canada and built his family here.
J.A. Boulet was born many years later, raised with strong morals and values, which she stands behind to this day. She started writing poetry at the age of five and progressed to short stories and novels. She has a keen interest in ancestry, healing, family bonds and military history. J. A. Boulet writes with a spine-tingling realism like none other, grabbing your emotions and refusing to let go. The Olason Chronicles is the series you’ve been waiting for. Watch for the next book 1956: Love and Revolution (Dec 2022), a standalone historical romance novel that takes place during the courageous Hungarian Revolution.
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