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Saturday, June 13, 2009

Review of a Great Read: Diamond Duo

Long before I began writing, I was a voracious reader of romances. I still love a great story, and there are many wonderful authors writing them. I invite you to check back on Saturdays when I share my reviews of some books I've enjoyed recently, both historical and contemporary.

The Review

Diamond Duo by Marcia Gruver

Marcia Gruver transports the reader to Jefferson, Texas in the year 1877, a real town with a rich history—and an attention-grabbing murder. Using the facts from the actual events leading up to the dastardly deed, Gruver brings to life a fictionalized account in a gem of a story resplendent with well-developed characters and emotion.

The story begins with the appearance of the mysterious, elegantly attired and bejeweled “Diamond Bessie” and the menacing man who holds a tight leash on her. Enter the heroine of Diamond Duo, a young woman of faith, Bertha Biddie, who wants nothing more than to attract the attention of Thaddeus Bloom. Certain the gorgeous, self-assured “Bessie,” “Annie,” or whomever she is knows the secret to catching a gentleman’s eye, Bertha befriends her. Thaddeus, equally captivated by Bertha, must put duty before love. He heads off to military school to satisfy his domineering father, leaving his beloved behind, much to his dismay. She pines for him and yet is worried about her new-found friend, whom she fears is in serious trouble.

With a rich cast of memorable secondary characters, Gruver sweeps the reader into a story that moves her quickly from one engaging scene to the next. Sarah King, a black farmer’s wife dealing with lingering attitudes resulting from the Civil War, is beautifully portrayed. She plays a significant role in the story, which we see from her perspective on numerous occasions. A powerful transformation takes place in the lives of Bertha’s parents. I loved the addition of these people as well as the others who populate the town and the story. The book is definitely a romance, but it’s also a wonderfully told tale of the life-changing effects the events leading up to the heinous crime have on a close-knit community and how seemingly disparate individuals overcome their differences. The growth of the major players is wonderful to witness.

When I pick up a book from a new author, I never know what to expect. In some cases, I feel a sense of disappointment. In others, I come away satisfied. Every now and then, though, I’m so mightily impressed that I add that author to my “must read” list, which is the case with Marcia Gruver. She’s an artist whose canvas is the page and whose medium is carefully chosen words. The cover includes a quotation from author Kathleen Y’Barbo, “ A masterpiece waiting to be found.” I agree.

I heartily recommend Diamond Duo to any reader who enjoys a historical inspirational. And the good news is that if, like me, you’re left wanting more, the sequel, Chasing Charity, book two in the Texas Fortunes series, is already out as well.

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Win a Book

If you enjoy reading inspirational romances, leave a comment for your chance to win my once-read copy of the title I just reviewed. Be sure to include your email address when prompted, so I can contact you. (I don't share this information.)

I'll choose the winner from all those who leave a comment by the Friday after the post and will list the winner's name the following Saturday.

Last Week's Winner

Congrats to Laura Frantz, winner of my once-read copy of Stand-in Groom by Kaye Dacus.


Elizabeth Pina said...

Hi Keli!

Historicals aren't my first choice but this sounds like a great read.

And - it's set in Texas so what more could I ask for?


Jessica said...

I was really impressed with the actual sentences in Diamond Duo. Very lyrical. I also got caught up in the secondary characters. She did a great job!

Keli Gwyn said...


Maybe Marcia and I could make a historical reader out of you. Hmm? :)


I admire Marcia's voice, her use of words and the way she describes things. Quite unique. And she really makes her characters come to life, secondary as well as the hero and heroine, doesn't she?

Marcia Gruver said...


You've been such an amazing supporter of my work and a tireless advocate for my books. I can't thank you enough.

Bless you real big!

Keli Gwyn said...

Congratulations, Elizabeth! You're the winner of Marcia's debut novel, Diamond Duo.

The book is a fun read, and I hope you enjoy it. Since I write historicals too, I'm all for getting you to dip your literary toes in the genre. :)