My review of Heiress by Susan May Warren


I love reading stories set during the Gilded Age, and have read a good number of them to date. This novel tops them all as my absolute favorite. In fact, in my opinion this is Susan May Warren’s best book ever! I’ve read ten of her books and have ten more (at least) that I own or have started. Her historical fiction is far superior in quality because it’s full of deep, heart-felt insight on a level that her contemporary novels don’t quite touch. I used to think Sons of Thunder was her best book because it was so intense and fabulous, but this novel even tops that one.

In my opinion, Susan is clearly gifted when it comes to writing historical romance. She does a great job with deep point of view and insight into human frailty and overwhelming regrets. At many different times while reading this novel I felt like I was living the life of each of the sisters. The author includes so much sensory detail with visceral emotion attached to it…like the scent of city life, the ink from the presses, stark terror from the absence of light deep in the mines, the pain from wearing the corsets, to constriction of society’s expectations, the blood from…well I won’t say.

Anyway, a few times I was agonizing over the story line. I felt like yelling into the book and saying nooooo! Talk about torturing your reader with the characters’ conflicts! I was feeling their regrets and wishing they had made better choices too. My heart hurt for them. I was living this story! That’s great writing.

Things I admired most about this novel was it was brave, honest, and well told. How many Christian authors have their characters actually admitting to themselves that something was very wrong that happened, but it led to something that was very right…like understanding true love for the first time in their lives? There were some tender scenes that included passionate gazes and kisses filled with so much longing. The intense emotion in this novel was palpable at times. And the heroes were so lovable.

Many contemporary topics were covered that were relevant back in the Gilded Age just like they are now. Infidelity, spousal abuse, the love of money and position, and pride over appearances to name a few. I loved how the author tied so many truths into each character’s struggle with their desire to know true love and with learning to receive forgiveness. The heroes were each, in their own way, models of Christ. They were committed to the heiresses, patient and willing to forgive. But unlike Jesus, the heroes weren’t perfect. I loved that too. I didn’t find the spiritual thread heavy handed, but it was clearly present. I like how the author showed their spiritual journeys in a way that was culturally relevant to the times. I loved how she referred to D. L. Moody and some of his famous sermons as well.

This was a great book. But I have to warn you that it’s addicting. I literally struggled with having to go to work when what I really wanted to do was stay home and read this novel. Excellent fiction. Compelling. Well-plotted. Intelligently written. I was thinking, “Man, I wish I could write like this.” Truly superior and emotionally evocative writing. I highly recommend it.

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