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My Brother's Crown (Cousins of the Dove) Paperback – October 1, 2015
"Enlightenment Now: The Case for Reason, Science, Humanism, and Progress"
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"Being somewhat of a science buff and puzzle lover, I enjoyed the two main characters and their chemistry and puzzle solving. I have enjoyed all of the books these ladies have coauthored, but I believe this one is my favorite. I cannot wait for the next book!"
"I thoroughly enjoyed reading this book. I am a huge fan of historical fiction, yet I did not know much about the Huguenots or that period in history. My Brother's Crown was well researched and gave lots of details about life in 17th century France."
"My Brother's Crown did not disappoint. Love it when I read a book, that I'm drawn in by the present day mystery, yet learn something new as well."
About the Author
Mindy Starns Clark is the bestselling author of more than 20 books, both fiction and nonfiction, with over a million copies sold. Mindy and her husband, John, have two adult children and live in Pennsylvania. www.mindystarnsclark.com
Leslie Gould, a former magazine editor, is the author of numerous novels, including Beyond the Blue and Garden of Dreams. She received her master of fine arts degree from Portland State University and lives in Oregon with her husband, Peter, and their four children. www.lesliegould.com
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Renee Talbot, one of Catherine's descendants, is a modern woman living in Seattle when her Nana calls her home to Virginia for the huge and opulent Talbot family reunion. This year, the Talbots are handing over the Persecution Pamphlet, a cleverly coded document used to help 1600s French Protestants flee France, over to the Smithsonian. There's to be a major ceremony, and part of Nana's estate has been set up as a miniature museum so the whole family can see the Persecution Pamphlet and learn their ancestors' story. But Renee isn't concerned with that. She and her cousins Madeline and Danielle are determined to discover what really happened in the Dark Woods of Nana's estate when they were little kids. Back then, the cousins, along with Madeline's sister Nicole, found a dead body in the cabin where they used to play. But by the time they reported the grisly crime scene to their parents, it was cleaned up and the girls were labeled liars. Renee dealt with the trauma through escaping into science, but now she may be forced out of hiding.
Both halves of this story are intriguing and made up of great characters and plot devices. Usually with a book like this, I like one half of the story better. But in My Brother's Crown, both Renee and Catherine had me intrigued. Mindy and Leslie crafted their plotlines expertly, knowing exactly when to stop one and pick up the other to keep the suspense going. Catherine and Renee, especially Catherine, are allowed ample time to grow. I did like Catherine a little better than Renee since her character development is stronger. She starts out as a bit flighty and impulsive, so determined to prove herself capable that she actually looks foolish at times. Her faith seems shallow in many places, especially in comparison to her GrandMere and cousin Amelie. In the end though, she comes forth as a mature, levelheaded woman who would never abandon her faith for anything, even when offered all she could want materially.
Renee and her story are also beautifully written. I could relate to Renee's desire to hide behind academia, though my refuge of choice was always literature, not science. I wanted to see Renee and her cousins vindicated, and I loved the interactions between them. I was disappointed that the mystery of the Dark Woods was not completely solved, but appreciated the little cliffhanger at the end.
My Brother's Crown does have some problems that, if I'm being honest, net it a 3.75 rating. The biggest of these is the lack of connection between Catherine and Renee's stories. I get that they're similar in personality, and that the descendant learns from the ancestor. However, Renee never uses the Persecution Pamphlet or any part of Catherine's journey to help her on her own path. She doesn't make connections between Catherine and herself in any way. I don't understand why or how the authors chose these two people and these two stories to connect with each other.
Additionally, Renee is supposed to have a romance with Brett Keller, an insurance agent in charge of preserving and guarding the Persecution Pamphlet. When they do interact, it's nice, especially since Brett is the first person ever to understand Renee's traumatic past. But that's the thing--they hardly ever interact in a meaningful way. They banter, she tells him about the trauma, they go on one date, and...that's it. Suddenly they're close enough to be engaged, or at least thinking about it. I don't think so.
I would have liked My Brother's Crown better had it, especially Renee's half, been much more focused, and if Leslie and Mindy had been more careful with which elements of the stories to tell. What's here, however, is a pretty good read worth your time. It's also worth checking out the rest of the series.
There are two story lines in My Brother’s Crown. The first is set in modern day Virginia and centers around Renee Talbot. Her family is presenting a valuable historical artifact to the Smithsonian, and Renee is heavily involved in the process. She meets a hunky security guy with the insurance agency and there is immediate attraction. A past event makes Renee wary of commitment, but with Blake’s help, Renee and her cousins confront their childhood trauma, and the stage is set for more investigation into the mystery. Meanwhile, the danger and intrigue of France in the late 1600s unfolds in the second story line. Catherine Gillet is a young Huguenot woman during the height of persecution under King Louis XIV. Catherine is torn between her faith, the enticements of the world and an ideal of safety away from France. There’s a lot going on behind the scenes that Catherine is not aware of making her unsure of just whom to trust.
To be honest, I felt that the plot and characters of the historical story were more developed. This may be because at the end of the book, Catherine’s story seems complete. Catherine was a good character — headstrong and opinionated, with a definite belief in justice. Her attitudes and personality colored the way she saw the world and interacted with events. I also enjoyed learning more about the Huguenots and the persecution they endured. We learn a lot about Pilgrims and Puritans in American History, but not a lot about other religious groups that came to America for freedom. My Brother’s Crown provided greater insight into the struggle for religious freedom. The modern story line with its mystery murder from the cousins’ childhood will continue in subsequent books. And while I want to learn more about that, I felt like I have only gotten a a brief glimpse into that story. Renee and Blake’s romance was good, but felt a bit rushed. I am hoping they will figure in the subsequent books.
All in all, we enjoyed My Brother’s Crown. We had a good bit of discussion on the Huguenots and the roles and limitations of women throughout history. We are looking forward to My Sister’s Prayer, book 2 in the series, due out in September 2016.
Audience: older teens to adults.
Catherine Gillet is determined that time is running out for her family to relocate their successful printing business out of Lyon, France where daily intimidation by the king's dragoons are forcing Protestants to flee France and seek refuge around the world. Betrothed to Pierre Talbot, her brother's business partner, she is increasingly aware that decisions about her future are being made without her knowledge or consent. Who can be trusted when it appears that traitors abound and what will happen to their generations-old property and livelihood if they refuse to convert to Catholicism?
Told, using the lives of two women living centuries apart, yet bearing the same heritage, "My Brother's Crown" is a fascinating historical novel, with enough mystery and intrigue to conveniently set the stage for continuing sagas, especially when a murder needs to be solved and a romance needs time to blossom.
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