Review: A Bound Heart by Laura Frantz

A Bound Heart by Laura Frantz
Hannah's Rating: 3 out of 5 bookmarks

Overall, it was a good read. The characters are solid and the plot progresses well. The cover is absolutely dreamy, and I especially loved the unique touch of Lark's name.

Though Magnus MacLeish and Lark MacDougall grew up on the same castle grounds, Magnus is now laird of the great house and the Isle of Kerrera. Lark is but the keeper of his bees and the woman he is hoping will provide a tincture that might help his ailing wife conceive and bear him an heir. But when his wife dies suddenly, Magnus and Lark find themselves caught up in a whirlwind of accusations, expelled from their beloved island, and sold as indentured servants across the Atlantic. Yet even when all hope seems dashed against the rocky coastline of the Virginia colony, it may be that in this New World the two of them could make a new beginning--together.

I've always been fascinated by old Scottish settings and early American indentures, and this book features both, so I had my hand out for a copy long before publication rolled around. I just knew I was going to love it, and I also really enjoyed the details about Lark's occupation as an herbalist.

I loved the lush settings and the bits of the Scots language. I'm used to reading books with much more Scots in my addiction to "kailyard" novels, but for the casual reader there's just enough to add some flavor without being terribly off-putting, and there's a glossary to help with the few terms included.

Magnus's inability to lead his household started the book off with me not liking him much. He's really honestly not a very good laird! But I also know that not a lot of the lairds were very good. It's just that he seems portrayed as a larger-than-life hero, but when you actually look at the events it doesn't add up to the perfection it seems to be. I didn't know if that was unintentional, or if it was a portrayal of Lark's view of him.

Laura Frantz
It's hard to say this without spoilers, so I'm going to leave out character names. There is a character who has an attraction to a married person, and the married person has a preference for them as well.  The book gives all the reasons that the married person's spouse is bad and annoying and sometimes plain crazy, and at times the married person wants to keep the single person close by, literally employing them for a job, and derives emotional comfort from the single person's completion of tasks. This idea was almost a deal-breaker for me but I did push on and finish the book. Forbidden love is a theme I've often enjoyed and have eaten up with a spoon in other novels. However, the way this married person behaves shows them straying over the line of emotional infidelity to a partner they pledged to love and honor, and no repentance ever occurs. In fact, it is suggested at one point that the married person had remained in love with the single person during their entire marriage. This is not an appropriate action for a married person, and if they struggle with feelings toward someone who is not their spouse I strongly believe that they should "flee temptation" and get far away from the one they are unduly attracted toward. Marriage without love does not mean you can "love someone else as long as you don't have sex with them"--marriage binds you to emotional fidelity as well. I don't think the author thought through all the implications of what these characters were thinking/feeling, because I don't think it was deliberately written to be an example of emotional infidelity, but the characters' thoughts, longings, and preferences are portrayed all too well. Emotional fidelity matters no matter how shoddy your spouse is.

I loved the second half of the book much more and my heart was stolen by a certain young boy, Larkin, who Lark reaches out to. I also loved the dear lady who was Royal Hundred's housekeeper, the picturesquely-named Mistress Flowerdew, who is Lark's closest overseer in her indenture. I also began to like Magnus better as he struggled to bring about some slavery reforms in the harsh Jamaican conditions on the sugar plantation his master owns. I wish this section of the book had been a much larger part of the story as a whole, instead of barely half, because this was the most interesting part to me.

Overall I would recommend it with the caution that it should be read by spiritually mature young folks or only over eighteen because of the marital fidelity issue.

Hannah Gridley has been a dedicated bookworm since the age of 4. By day she works for a local nonprofit; in her spare time she works in a bookstore, teaches music, plays violin in two local orchestra groups and in her church, and enjoys hiking. Favorite reading genres include Christian, historical fiction, suspense, and vintage/classic novels. When she isn't working, writing, or reading, she spends money adding books to her home library or collecting fountain pens and fancy inks.

Disclosure: The publisher provided us with a free copy of this book for promotional purposes. This post contains affiliate links.

Hannah Gridley

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