T. Davis Bunn
Book of Hours (2000)
Author: T. Davis Bunn
For two years Brian Blackstone has traveled the world trying to cope with the loss of his wife, and ends up in Knightsbury England, at the estate he inhertited from his wife's aunt. Upon his arrival in Knightsbury he discovers that the manor is going up for auction because of failure to pay over 600,000 pounds (over $1 million) in death dues (inhertience tax). Cecile is a doctor in Knightsbury and also a tenant of the estate that Brian has inherited. Unaware of his wife's death and his lack of money, she is hostile to him upon their first meeting only to discover that he isn't as bad as perhaps she first thought when a mysterious letter is found with the Tea cups brings them together. The mysterious letter sends Brian on a quest to solve the riddles left for him and unravel the mystery of the manor. SPOILER With the help of Cecile and other members of the town Brian solves the mystery and also finds a historic chapel and illuminated bible underneath the property. He is then able to get the property declared a historic landmark and stop the sale of the Manor. At the end of the riddles he also discovers a chest full of gold. By the end of the book he has renewed his faith in God and falls in love with Cecile.
Geographical Setting: Knightsbury, England
Time Period: Contemporary (2000)
Although the book is not fast-paced, there is a lot of dialog that keeps the book moving. The mystery of the manor creates just enough suspense to make the novel engrossing. Although the novel deals with the death of a loved one there is a tone of hope for the future. The main theme of the novel is that of healing, both emotionally and spirtually. By the end of the novel both Brian and Cecile have renewed their faith in God and the Christian faith. T.Davis Bunn provides readers with the feeling of a small English village, through depictions of the settings, but also with minor characters, and descriptions of small town worries. Cecile is a doctor in the small town and parts of the story take place in her office, including a mysterious illness in a small child, although the illness is not solved, it is presumed that the child will be okay.
Read-alikes: For another novel by T.Davis Bunn readers should try The Gift although not a romance, the story tell how the friendship formed Leslie and Grace, while trapped in the same hospital room, helps them grow spiritually. Readers who enjoyed Book of Hours might also enjoy The Bridge by Lisa Tawn Bergen, in which the main character Jared Conway flees to an inherited cabin after trying to reconcile with his ex-wife only to discover her in bed with another man, at the cabin he meets Eden Powell and finds spiritual renewal. Rainbow's End by Irene Hannon, like Book of Hours is a Christian contemporary romance in which the main character Keith Michaels looses his wife and travels across the United States to escape his pain only to find Jill Whelan on Orcas Island. For another Christian romance of Americans set in England, try Framed by Tracie Peterson; journalist Gabrielle Fleming goes on tour of Great Britain as the basis for a series of travel articles, saddled with photographer Jarod Walls. Willows on the Windrush, Book 2 of the Kindred Heart Series, by Doris Elaine Fell might aslo be of interest for those who enjoyed the small village setting. Sydney Barrington the main character in Willows on the Windrush inherits a Manor in a small English village, where the villagers are hesitant to welcome her. If you enjoyed the mystery aspect of Book of Hours you might enjoy Hideaway by Hannah Alexander. When ER Doctor's Cheyenne Allison's sister dies on the table she goes to Hideaway, Missouri a town which is terrorized by a vandal, will she be the next victim?
Red Flags: Some minor "off-stage" violence
The Gift (1994)
Author: T. Davis Bunn
Grace is an elderly Hispanic woman who has fallen and broken her leg. Always independent, at first she refuses to go to see her doctor about it, but eventually her son John convinces her to go. She has surgery on it and is placed in a room for a week to heal. Leslie is a businesswoman living a fast-paced life. She breaks her ankle on an escalator and ends up sharing the hospital room with Grace. Leslie has been focusing all her energy and time on her job. She is somewhat superficial and has no real relationships with anyone. She is skeptical of religious people because she had a bad relationship with her father, who used religion to justify everything he did. Grace has been writing in her journal and praying regularly. Lately she has realized when she was praying she needed not just to talk but more importantly to listen. When she did this the was filled with peace and purpose in life. This is "the gift" she wants to give Leslie. They talk to each other about their places in life and realize they have a lot to learn from each other. Leslie admires Graceís faith and wants to learn more about it so she can have that peace in her own life. After a week, they both leave the hospital. Graceís son asks Leslie out, and they offer her a job helping run Johnís construction company.
Geographical Setting: A hospital room, Southwest U.S.
Time Period: present
The story is pretty slow-paced. Just about the entire book takes place in the hospital room. It is not based on action but on the dialogue between the two women, as well as their thoughts about the situation. This would be a good book for someone going through an illness or growing old or getting caught up in the trivial things in life. It is easy to read and short enough so it can focus on the one plot.
Similar Authors: Lauraine Snelling, Francine Rivers
Red Flags: none