September 1815, Providence, Rhode Island
Thirty-year-old Remembrance “Mem” Wilkins loves her solitary life running the farm and orchard she inherited from her father and has no plans to give up her independence. Especially not for the likes of Mr. Graham Lott. But when Mem is unable to harvest the apples on her own, she accepts the help of the man she despises.
Fresh off a boat from Ireland with his four-year-old son in tow, Simon Brennan secures a building in which to ply his trade as a cobbler. Still healing from the grief of his wife’s death a year earlier, he determines to focus only on providing a good life for his son. But when he intervenes in an argument on behalf of the intriguing Miss Wilkins, sister-in-law of the tavern owner who befriends him, he suddenly finds himself crossways with his landlord, Mr. Lott, and relieved of his lease and most of his money.
With no means of support, Simon takes a job helping Mem with her harvest, relieving her of the need of Lott’s help. But their growing attraction to each other makes them both uneasy. Mem gladly escapes to town when her sister begins labor, and Simon, believing it best to distance himself from Mem, takes his son and leaves.
But neither anticipates the worst gale New England has ever seen—or that the storm will threaten all they hold dear.
SERIES: Coast-to-Coast Brides #1
GENRE: Inspirational Historical Fiction
PUBLISHER: Zarephath Books
RELEASE DATE: August 28, 2017
“He couldn’t force the winds and waves to obey him, so why did he fight so hard against the One who could?”
No Small Storm is a quick read but also extremely captivating and enjoyable. From the fascinating history of the Great Gale of 1815 to the early American sights, sounds and smells of Providence, Rhode Island, to the vivid characters, Anne Mateer has crafted a story that engages all the senses as well as the heart and the mind.
I love reading about the early American time period, and Mateer does a fabulous job of weaving setting and dialect to immerse readers right into that era with her characters. And then adding the history behind such a powerful storm – ships sailing right down Main Street, salt all over everything, a man floating down the flooded street on a makeshift raft to the window of a woman who then saved his life… This is all Carrie bait, appealing directly to the history geek inside me. I love it! Coupled with the gorgeously worded narrative (“…feeling to her bones the coolness of stone walls which never warmed“), I’m a happy reader 🙂
Mem and Simon are both determined to establish their own independence, not relying on someone else’s whims to make decisions for them. And yet both find themselves in desperate need of assistance in order to secure that independence. Both are also just as desperate to avoid being dependent on the same person – Graham Lott, a rather sleazy little guy who reminded me of a scrawnier Gaston (from Beauty & the Beast). This juxtaposition of fierce independence along with dependence born out of necessity gave their characters additional depth and dimension. As does the gentle message that dependence on God brings freedom – and relying on someone we love (and their reliance on us) makes both of us stronger.
Bottom Line: No Small Storm by Anne Mateer is an intriguing look at a brutal storm, yes, but it’s the development before the storm that really establishes the heart of the story. It’s because of the investment we as readers have already made in the characters and the setting that we care so much about the storm’s devastation. The romance is sweet and progresses naturally, despite the shorter word count of the story, although the frequent internal ‘does he feel the same / does she feel the same’ debate wasted some time that left the romantic declarations feeling somewhat rushed at the end. Overall, this is a truly enjoyable story based on real-life events – and I’m looking forward to more in this series!
(I voluntarily reviewed a complimentary copy of this book which I received from the author. All views expressed are only my honest opinion.)
My Rating: 4 stars / Great read!
KissingBook Level: 3 / May forget to breathe on occasion
Anne Mateer has loved reading and writing stories since childhood. She is the author of 4 historical novels, 1 historical novella, and a few contemporary short stories. Anne and her husband of 30 years, Jeff, love to visit their grown children and tour historical sites. They are currently living an empty nest adventure in Austin, TX.
Other Books by Anne Mateer
I’m always up for a good historical story. It’s what I enjoy reading. It’s what I enjoy writing. But I find that my pleasure in any historical fiction increases exponentially when the story at hand is based on at least a kernel of historical fact. All four of my full-length novels share this trait. So it stood to reason that when turning my mind to a historical novella I would seek the same grounding in truth I’ve sought before.
So what historical fact inspired No Small Storm? It was a combination of them, actually. Which I think always makes for the best tales!
I like an overarching historical event to help frame a story. Things like war or economic crisis or natural disaster. Situations in the historical record which required courage or resilience or sacrifice from the people who lived through them. When I stumbled upon the Great Gale of 1815, which hit Providence, Rhode Island particularly hard, I knew it could provide obstacles for my characters to overcome.
As I began to read about this event—a hurricane before such storms were commonly called hurricanes—I happened upon some first hand accounts of that day. Fascinating remembrances about a storm arriving without much preamble, then departing and leaving bright sunny skies with which to view the destruction.
And destruction there was! Not only from wind and water, but also the fact that both of those things unleashed the ships moored in the harbor and sent them sailing down the main street of town! Can you imagine looking out of the second or third story window of a building which was likely flooded on the ground floor and seeing a ship coming at you?
That, in itself, was dramatic enough. Especially when coupled with the fact that those ships often broke apart, whether from wind and waves or from contact with the buildings and bridges they encountered on land. Then I considered the people in those ships? What happened to them? Many were flung into the water, searching for purchase.
It was just such a circumstance that brought one man to the window of a young woman. She helped him inside. They were later married. And if finding such a story that isn’t a romance writer’s delight, I don’t know what is!
Finally, as I continued to read about the destruction in the area, I discovered a few lines about area orchards. The hanging fruit was found covered with a dusting of white. When tasted, it was discovered to be salt. Salt from storm surge and sea spray. Salt that saturated, even miles inland. Water and wind—and they salt they carried—ruining fruit crops ready for harvest. What could be more devastating to a farmer than that?
And so No Small Storm was born, with Remembrance and Simon each trying to make a good life for themselves, each trying to trust God as they work hard. Each keeping careful watch over their heart. But sometimes circumstances take things we don’t want to give. And give things we never imagined possible.
Historical fact and spiritual truth. Characters who are a product of their times as well as universal in their struggles and desires. It’s the kind of story I love to read. And the kind of story I’m proud to write.
To celebrate her tour, Anne is giving away a grand prize of a reader bag of goodies—including a Pride and Prejudice fleece throw, a “reading” charm necklace from Storied Jewelry, a Secret Garden litograph tote bag, and a $25 Amazon gift card!!!
Click below to enter. Be sure to comment on this post before you enter to claim 9 extra entries!
This giveaway is hosted by Celebrate Lit, not RimSP
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What about you? What most interests you about this story?