Review: Beyond Her Calling (+ Giveaway!)
Are you looking for A clean and pure Christian historical romance with:
– friendship budding into romance
– mental disabilities rep
– cows (and being afraid of cows)
– BORDER COLLIES
– small adorable children
– more Scotland
– awesome families
– siblings and best friends and both at once?
Then this is the book for you.
BOOK BY THE COVER
I’m no romance fan if I’m honest. I love the Rudy-Liesel kind of romance and I won’t deny I’ve read Austen’s books more than once but other than that, it’s not my thing. Christian romance even less so after my first painful attempt to read it on the recommendation of a friend.
One of the things that attracted me to Beyond Her Calling was that I’ve wanted to read Kellyn’s writing for a long time. The other thing is the cover. It has no ringlet-crowned blondes in ball gowns on the front, looking wistfully away into the middle-distance. Petty? Absolutely. But Beyond Her Calling has a beautiful cover as you can see below:
It incorporates two things I love: music and my home country. What’s not to like? On top of that, I was taken with the title. It isn’t soppy, it suggests that this is about a young woman seeking to find her place in life.
INSIDE THE BOOK
Beyond Her Calling is one of a series but it also works as a standalone. It opens with Ivy and her sister, Alice, having a final picnic before Alice moves away to America with her new husband.
I took to Ivy right away. She’s sweet and innocent and though she has some apparent learning difficulties, she’s far from stupid. Kellyn gives the character a depth and humanity which is hard to find in fiction these days. Though Ivy struggles, the only attention drawn to her difficulties is when she is anxious and doubting herself — something she has no need to do. She is not a ‘character with special needs’ she’s just Ivy, trying to find her place in a world she doesn’t always understand and trying to work out whether ‘someone like her’ could possibly have a calling. One of the things that drew me to her is the sweetness and innocence but also how completely oblivious she is to how helpful and warm she is and how much everyone around her is drawn to her.
The story follows her as she goes to Scotland in search of a purpose in life and ends up moving to a small village called Keefmore as an assistant to her childhood friend Jordy McAllen, now a doctor. Along with the two of them comes the troubled Violet and shenanigans ensue. Violet was another well-written character. Though deeply disturbed and somewhat tragic, Kellyn sensitively shows how some temperaments are inclined to milk their situations and use them as an excuse. Violet is a difficult character and I felt for her but also understood why the others needed to be firm with her. It was interesting to see how she reacted and adapted.
There are a whole cast of other fun and amicable characters and all of them felt well-rounded and realistic. It’s one of those books you enjoy no matter who is on the page. That said, I did want to pick Jordy up and shake him for being so silly a couple of times. Particularly in the cow shed.
As for the story line, I really appreciated that it wasn’t formulaic and cliched. The whole way through, I had a genuine interest in the characters, what they were doing, and what would happen next. None of it felt forced and I particularly enjoyed the realism of Ivy (from a noble family in the South of England) trying to adjust to life on a croft in a rural area of the Scottish borders. The only thing I struggled with was the dialect. There were a couple of times when it didn’t quite work, like when a character said ‘I’m a wee tired’ but most readers aren’t going to be phased by it. There were also a couple of Americanisms that slipped in (‘store’) but nothing major.
Another aspect of Beyond Her Calling worth commenting on is the faith element. Admittedly, I was quite nervous about it but it was as natural as it comes. It doesn’t feel at all forced or preachy, even when Ivy is trying to talk to Violet about her faith or when she and Ena are encouraging one another in their difficulties. It’s not a book that I’d be embarrassed to give to someone who wasn’t a Christian. Kellyn’s aim is not to preach under the thin veneer of a story, it just happens that their faith is an integral part of who her characters are and it’s refreshing to read.
Apart from the border collies, kittens, there’s nothing about the story that needs a heads up. There is a rather funny scene in the byre when Jordy is getting in a tizzy about Ivy which totally cracked me up. He tells himself that it’s ok to admit that she’s pretty, just not to dwell on it. Then he says he doesn’t really like blondes anyway. A moment later, Ivy comes in and the light catches her hair and he’s there thinking how blondes really are the prettiest. It cracked me up no end. He’s ever the gentleman but Kellyn definitely got the male point of view pretty well.
All in all, it’s a very clean book and there’s nothing you’d need worry about unless you’re an animal rights activist and would get upset when Jordy hides a kitten in his pocket to surprise Ivy.
I haven’t been reading an awful lot recently but Beyond Her Calling had me gripped. The characters were deep, well-developed and believable, the story kept me interested and entertained in turns and I genuinely cared what happened to everybody. It was well-written and well-researched and Ivy was an incredibly lovable character.
Favourite Character: I love Ivy but I also really like Jordy. He’s funny and friendly but also has a depth and seriousness about him that really works. I’ll be excited to read about them in the future.
Favourite Part: Jordy beating himself up about how much he likes Ivy even though he’s decided he doesn’t want a wife anytime soon and Ivy being completely oblivious.
Favourite Quote: ‘Weren’t angels supposed to keep to Heaven or at least avoid sitting in mere mortals’ parlours?’
Rating: Three out of three border collies.
If you liked this, you might like: The Secret Countess by Eva Ibbotson, The Dressmaker’s Secret by Kellyn Roth (the first in the series, following Ivy’s sister, Alice), and keep an eye out for Word of Honour, also by Kellyn Roth, hopefully coming in 2019.
OH LOOK, YOU CAN WIN A COPY!
Speaking of which, having told you how much I like this book, there is a giveaway in celebration of its release in which you can win a signed copy for free! This giveaway is open to the USA and internationally so there’s no excuse not to –get a wiggle on and enter
If you’ve enjoyed reading about Beyond Her Calling, I have good news for you! There is a blog tour all week celebrating its release. Today is ‘Ivy Day’ and so if you nip on over to Kellyn’s website, you’ll find character interviews, bonus content, and a list of the other novels in the Chronicles of Alice and Ivy as well as finding out what other exciting projects she is working on.
For all the bonus content and exciting extras, here is the full blog tour schedule:
Saturday, October 20th
Intro Post // Kellyn Roth @ Reveries
Author Interview // Molly @ A Sparkle of Light
Review // Lisa @ Inkwell
Review & Character Interview (Jordy) // Amie @ Crazy A
Character Interview (Ivy) // Jo @ The Lens and the Hard Drive
Book Spotlight // Annie @ Letters from Annie Douglass Lima
Sunday, October 21st
Theme Day // Kellyn Roth @ Reveries
Guest Post by Character (Ivy) & Review // Grace M. Morris
Book Spotlight // Erika Messer @ Maiden of the Pages
Author Interview // Angela R. Watts @ The Peculiar Messenger
Monday, October 22nd
Ivy Day // Kellyn Roth @ Reveries
Character Interview (Ivy) // Loretta Marchize @ Just Writing
Review // Andrea Cox @ Writing to Inspire
Character Interview (Jordy) // Liz @ Home with the Hummingbirds
Author & Character Interview (Violet) // Julia @ Julia’s Creative Corner
Review & Character Spotlight (Ivy) // Caroline Kloster @ Inside the Autistic Life
Tuesday, October 23rd
Jordy Day // Kellyn Roth @ Reveries
Author Interview // Faith Blum @ Bookish Orchestrations
Review & Guest Post // Jessie @ Jessie Bingham
Guest Post // Lindsi @ One Beginner To Another
Character Spotlight (Ena) // Shannon McDermott @ Shannon’s Blog
Wednesday, October 24th
Thursday, October 25th
Real Life Day // Kellyn Roth @ Reveries
Book Spotlight // Gabriellyn Gidman @ PageTurners
Author Interview // Sara Willoughby @ Th!nk Magazine
Review // Michaela Bush @ Tangled Up In Writing
Guest Post by Character (Violet) // Peggy M. McAloon @ Peggy’s Hope 4U
Friday, October 26th
Saturday, October 27th
And be sure to check out the Facebook party every day this week for exciting updates!
Kellyn Roth lives on an Eastern Oregon ranch with her parents, little brothers, border collies, cats, and a few dozen cows and chickens. Always a lover of a good story, and especially of telling one, she’s been writing since she was seven and published her first novel at fourteen. Now a homeschool grad, she divides her time between penning her next Christian historical novel, creating professionally silly articles at kellynroth.blog, and her actual life. Actual life plays second fiddle sometimes, though.
Find out more on her website: https://kellynrothauthor.com/