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An Uncertain Choice Paperback – March 3, 2015
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From School Library Journal
Gr 8 Up—Lady Rosemarie Montfort was orphaned at age 14. Since that day, she has ruled her family's lands with the help of the abbot and has mentally prepared herself to enter the convent on her upcoming 18th birthday, in accordance with her parents' wishes and the Ancient Vow. The arrival of the Duke of Rivenshire, a family friend, throws all of Rosemarie's plans into disarray when he announces that there may be an exception to the Vow. If Rosemarie can fall in love and marry before her birthday—just four weeks away—she could continue to live among her people and be an active ruler rather than cloistered behind walls. In order to help Rosemarie make her choice, the duke has brought along three young knights to woo her and help her find true love. Although Rosemarie hesitates to deviate from her plan, she goes against the abbot's wishes and decides to give love a chance. But when potentially deadly accidents befall the knights competing for her affections, Rosemarie has to decide if love is worth the risk. There are few surprises in this historical fiction for teens. Savvy readers will know from the get-go who the villain is and which knight will win Rosemarie's hand. This book doesn't shy away from the less pretty parts of medieval times, such as illness, disease, poverty, and criminal torture. VERDICT A predictable historical romance for teens who believe in true love. An additional purchase.—Heather Webb, Worthington Libraries, OH
Jody Hedlund, historical fiction author, pens her first young adult novel by telling the story of a fourteenth-century young woman faced with a life-altering decision. In An Uncertain Choice, Lady Rosemarie is one month short of her eighteenth birthday–the day she goes into the convent to fulfill her parents’ vow. She found out about the vow when her parents died from the Plague four years earlier, so she has had time to prepare for life in the convent. Rosemarie thinks she will still be able to rule her people from behind the convent walls. Her late father’s close friend, the Duke of Rivenshire, arrives with three handsome knights to tell her that she has another choice–to marry before midnight on her birthday, releasing her from the vow. After being on her own, Rosemarie is torn between the possibility of marriage and entering the convent. What is God’s plan for her? As the knights compete to win her heart, someone is sabotaging the competition. One of the knights appears to be guilty, but is he? Should she marry or go to the convent? She has only one month to make the correct choice. As always, Hedlund brings a story with descriptive narrative, believable plot, and endearing characters, making it an enjoyable read–except, perhaps, for the torture endured by prisoners. An Uncertain Choice can easily be read by adults and teens alike. Fans of Lisa Bergren’s River of Time series and Melanie Dickerson’s medieval young adult books will also enjoy Hedlund’s medieval trilogy. Readers may want to read Hedlund’s novella, The Vow (available only in ebook format), a prequel to An Uncertain Choice. Recommended for teen collections in public libraries and school libraries. (Christian Library Journal)
Top customer reviews
Even with romance in the air, life must go on. The sheriff of Ashby resents having to take orders from a woman, especially one as young as Rosemarie, and it’s not easy keeping him in line. Added to that is the conflict between Rosemarie’s long-time advisor, Abbot Francis Michael, and her godfather. And to make matters worse, treachery breaks out among her suitors, and the evidence seems to point to the one man she wants the most to be innocent.
This is an exciting, clean romance with a fairy tale feel, complete with ruthless villains and brave heroes.
It's only a month before Rosemarie's 18th birthday when an old family friend shows up and tells her that her fate could be different. When her parents died, she found out she'd been chosen to be a sacrifice to God and would enter the convent on her 18th birthday. Her friend, the duke, tells her that if she marries before that time, she'd released from the vow.
Derrick is one of the knights, but he doesn't feel worthy and doesn't want to compete with his two best friends for the hand of the young maiden. It's clear that she prefers him, but he holds back for a long time. Dangers threaten the contestants as well as the people Rosemarie is supposed to protect.
The book is written in first person, which makes the first half of it predictable and somewhat boring. Being inside the mind of a 17-year-old discovering her feelings of love was a bit much. Every once in a while, we get to read from Derrick's point of view. At first, his chapters are so far apart that I wondered why they were in there at all, but toward the end, more chapters included his point of view, and I was able to engage in the story itself and less with Rosemarie's struggle with her feelings. And the end was just weird.
Overall, if you're looking for a straight up romance, complete with fluttering stomachs and confusing feelings, then I recommend this book. For me, it was too sappy, and I wish there had been more balance between the points of view. Sadly, not for me.
(Though reviews are inherently subjective, I prefer to provide some organization to my opinions through the use of a personal rubric. The following notes may contain spoilers.)
Plot and Setting: 4.2 -- Plot is engaging, with both cliche/overly convenient elements and some more unique aspects. Has a few shaky bits and/or a slight lack of focus. Setting is clear and mostly believable. Timeline is clear and consistent. I liked the vaguely fairy-tale-ish aspect of the story, with some subtle parallels to Sleeping Beauty, and the sort of bait-and-switch villain. But it also felt like it was trying too hard for a totally unnecessary bit of 'which knight was it' mystery, and the courtship activities felt slightly anachronistic. Jousting, archery contests, dances, feasts -- those fit the time period. But romantic dinners for two in the garden and a craft show with no attendees but the couple on their 'date'? Yeah, those sound much more like a modern reality show. This can be read as a stand-alone, but it does tag on at the very end a hint of what's to come for Sir Collin in the next book.
Characters: 4 -- Main characters are relatable, realistic, interesting, and dynamic. Some minor characters have depth, while others may be slightly stereotyped or simplified. Definite strong points in the relationships between characters. I liked both Rosemarie and Derrick. Her struggle with wanting to be treated as an adult, but also wanting to rely on others for advice, is very relatable, among other things. I also appreciated that while she initially reacts to Derrick's apparent disinterest with petty-but-justifiable anger, she ultimately goes out of her way to pursue him, instead. Nice. They really are a good team, each calling the other out on misconceptions they have about themselves and their fate, and driving each other to be better. The other characters are presented as decently unique and believable people, but we don't see a lot of growth or depth from minor characters.
Mechanics and Writing: 4.4 -- Few, if any, typos, punctuation issues, or word errors. (<5/100pgs) Generally solid use of POV, with a few errors or oddities. Skillful writing that adds to the story. Errors include: homophone confusion, mild punctuation or formatting issues, some mildly awkward or inconsistent bits. POV is all first person, mainly Rosemarie, but some Derrick, especially later in the book. It would've been nice to have some warning when we switch POVs, but there's not. I would sometimes get a paragraph or two into a new section or chapter before realizing who was speaking, which was definitely irritating, but perhaps not seriously confusing.
Redeeming Value: 4.7 -- Well-developed, central, uplifting themes. Drugs, alcohol, violence, etc, are not glorified, though there is some shaky ground. No explicit sex scenes. Clear moral guidelines for behavior. Some definite physical attraction, but the characters are generally well-chaperoned, and careful to respect propriety. No more than a few kisses. Some violence, and descriptions of fairly gruesome methods of torture and execution. It doesn't dwell on the graphic details, and it's clear that we're meant to disapprove of torture entirely, but it's definitely there. A pretty clear theme of seeking God's direction in prayer, and then following where God leads, even if perhaps you're given conflicting advice. Men can be fallible and untrustworthy; God is not. Also an emphasis on generosity and care for the poor, as opposed to overindulging in extravagant luxuries.
Personal Enjoyment: 4 -- I liked it a lot. Highly enjoyable and very entertaining, with perhaps an issue or two that tempered my pleasure. I’d enjoy reading it again.
The heroine's parents die leaving her to rule alone. Her powerful godfather could help or advise but instead he goes off for three years leaving her unprotected and unsupported in the hands of two unscrupulous people. The first is a greedy priest who wants all her wealth for the church and tries to block her using it to help the poor and starving. The second is a sadistic sheriff who ignores her laws and tortures and murders without censure because she has no help to stop him. Thanks godfather.
The heroine is rather silly and not very interesting anyway so I got tired of waiting for a Hea.
Oh also in the prequel she and a neighbor fall in love but find out she is promised to the church so they can't marry. He says he will love her forever. Here 3 years later we find she can marry if she finds love before her 18th birthday. But the neighbor just got married so too bad. What was the point of the prequel at all? I wasted money on that one too.