Maggie Blackbird

Romancing Canada's Indigenous People

Today, I’m hosting author Diana Bolianaz’ latest release The Forever Heart, a literary romance.  Be sure to read my review.  And don’t forget to enter the Rafflecopter giveaway.


Title: The Forever Heart
Series: N/A
Author: Diana Bolianaz
Genre: Literary Romance
Release Date: December 22, 2022
Length: 356 pages
Publisher: Tellwell Talent

Blurb:  Liza is a beautiful nineteen-year-old girl who comes from a strict Mennonite background. She lives at home with her mother, brother and domineering father. When Liza meets Melvin, a handsome young Black journalist, they fall madly in love. She has to keep the relationship a secret from her family because she knows her father would never approve. When Liza becomes pregnant, her world is turned upside down.

Goodreads | Amazon

LIZA AWOKE TO THE SOUND of her father’s voice coming from the kitchen. She turned over to look at the clock on the nightstand beside her bed. It was only seven-thirty. She got up to go to the washroom and caught sight of herself in the mirror. She realized she hadn’t taken her make-up off before she went to bed. She always made a point of washing her face no matter what time she came in. Not this time, though. Her mascara had smudged, and she looked like a raccoon. She washed her face, brushed her teeth, and put on a fake smile, pretending to be happy to see her father. “Good morning, sleepyhead,” her father said in his thick German accent.

“Sleepyhead? It’s only seven-thirty! When did you get in?”

“This morning around five,” he answered.

“How long will you be home? When do you leave again, and how long will you be gone?” Liza thought she would cover all the bases and get the lowdown forthwith.

“I’ll be home for a couple of days. Then gone for three weeks.”

“Only a couple of days? We hardly ever see you,” she said, feigning sincerity.

“What would you like for breakfast, Liza?” her mom asked.

“I think I’ll just make myself some toast, Mom. I’m not very hungry.”

“Will you be coming to church with us?” “I have a bit of a headache, Mom. I’m going to eat, take an aspirin, and lie down for a while.”

“Gee, Liza, not enough sleep last night?” Junior said as he sat down at the table. Liza gave him a look that would turn water into ice.

“What did you say, Junior?”

“Oh nothing, Dad.” Liza took the toast to her room, closed the door, and turned on her radio. She didn’t want to hear the way her father spoke to her mother. The truth was, Liza wanted to spend as little time as possible around her father. His cold-hearted sarcasm always cut to the bone. He was always complaining about her mother’s cooking, ordering her around, and generally showing her a lack of respect. Why did Mother marry him in the first place? How could she stand being married to him for twenty-five years? She couldn’t figure it out. Liza lay on her bed, daydreaming about Melvin. She was thankful her father was leaving in a couple of days, as he wouldn’t be around on Thursday when she had her next big date. If he was home, there’s no way she’d be able to get away with anything. It would be hard enough to work around her mother, but not impossible.


When I saw that the author was from Manitoba and the book was about a Mennonite girl, I was in.  Probably because I am well familiar with Steinbach, a town that even has a Mennonite Museum I visited during a school trip.  Plus, I’ve golfed in that town.  And have even stayed there.  And passed through tons of times on my way to Winterpeg.  Okay, that’s enough LOL.  So like I said, I read the blurb and about the author and I was in.

First, I wouldn’t classify this as a romance.  I’d shelve it as women’s fiction.  The story focuses on Liza.  She’s nineteen at the start of the book, has graduated high school, and works full-time as an author.  The novel takes place in 1974, but I didn’t quite feel the vibe of that time period in the setting.  Nor did I experience the flavour of the town where Liza is supposed to live.

What drew me in is the cast of characters.  They were rich in detail and made up for the lack of setting and time period.  True to the blurb, Liza’s father is super-strict, but Liza’s mother, who I really felt for, is an understanding and good woman, but there were times when I wanted to shake Helga (Liza’s mother) because she let me down.  I felt she could have stood harder by Liza’s side when up against the domineering father.

As for Melvin, he’s a great hero at the start.  He’s a very romantic first love for Liza and introduces her to a host of new people.  This helps Liza grow into a mature woman.  These people, Auntie Joanna, Sam, Alice, and the others, really helped Liza find her wings while she was away.  I enjoyed Liza’s journey into independence, especially when she took her summer job in another town.  It enabled her to deal with the pregnancy spoken about in the blurb.  It allowed her to be firm in what she wanted for herself.

I don’t want to say anymore and spoil the novel.  But I will say I felt for Liza.  I won’t say who let her down, but that’s what I felt.  She learned some men can talk a good game, but when the going gets tough, even though they are sympathetic, they don’t live up to a woman’s expectations.  I guess this frustrated me, because I felt that once Liza returned to town, the vibrant independent woman she had become while away had disappeared and she became her old self, feeling obliged to follow what everyone else wanted for her, or she was caving in to spare hurt feelings for others.

I will say she’s a caring, kind, and selfless woman, and maybe this is why she made the decisions she did.  It’s a wonderful tale of a girl struggling to become a woman against people who won’t let her.  I did find the ending a bit fast, but it was nice to see what had become of Liza.


Diana graduated from the University of Manitoba with a Bachelor of Education. She is currently working as a high school substitute teacher, affectionately known to her students as “Miss. B.”

Diana’s greatest joy is spending time with her family. She loves country music (especially the old stuff), champagne and Nanny’s perogies. With help from above, she will venture to make some soon.


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9 thoughts on “Diana Bolianaz – The Forever Heart

  1. Audrey Stewart says:

    Diana Bolianaz is a new author to me, but I want to thank this blog for the introduction.
    I look forward to reading this book.

    Liked by 1 person

  2. Piroska B says:

    The book sounds wonderful. Great cover.

    Liked by 1 person

  3. sherry1969 says:

    This sounds like an awesome read.

    Liked by 1 person

  4. Beatrice LaRocca says:

    Thank you for sharing your review of The Forever Heart, this sounds like a story that I will enjoy reading and I am looking forward to meeting the cast of characters

    Liked by 1 person

  5. Rita Wray says:

    Thank you for the review.

    Liked by 1 person

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