About the Book
Young, spirited Josie Wilkins life is about to take a turn when faced with political turmoil and forbidden love in San Antonio of 1836. John Gilbert has won her heart, despite being a Protestant preacher who is forbidden to practice his faith in Texas. Will either of them survive an epic battle for liberty to create a legacy of love?
Nearly 200 years later, Kayleigh Hernandez takes breaks from her demanding job as a refugee coordinator working with Mexican migrants to attend flea markets where she has found a uniquely engraved ring. Enlisting the help of appraiser Brandon Shuman, they piece together a love story long forgotten. But will dangers linked to Kayleigh’s work end her own hopes for leaving a legacy built on hope, faith, and love?
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A Promise Engraved is the first book I’ve read by Liz Tolsma, and it won’t be the last. A Promise Engraved is an enjoyable and well-written book. It is a dual timeline with one story set during the Texas Revolution and the other in present-day San Antonio. Both stories were well-written and nicely done.
In the past, the story centers on Josie Wilkins, a young woman recently returned to Texas after being rescued from an abduction, and John Gilbert, who is the pastor in their community. Josie is a headstrong character trying to recover from extreme trauma. Some of her reactions or decisions seemed very foolhardy and concerning, but she is a good, well-rounded character. John was a little harder to decipher as their story is told entirely through Josie’s point of view but he seemed like a perfectly pleasant character.
In the present day, Kayleigh Hernandez is the main character. She works as a liaison for unaccompanied minor immigrants coming over the United States-Mexican border. She finds a ring that belonged to her mother at a market and takes it our other main character, Brandon Shuman, who’s family owns a jewelry store, to see if they can figure out where it came from. Brandon is, like John, hard to decipher and seems to just be there in the story. He did not have much personality.
Ms. Tolsma has clearly researched the Texas Revolution and the Battle of the Alamo. The historical setting feels accurate and Josie feels like a real person. The present-day story is unfortunately not as interesting as the historical story. Kayleigh is the only present day character who doesn’t feel like a plot device.
The story also suffers a little from the single point of view in each timeline. Our female main characters are both rich and dynamic characters and as a result the men in their stories fall a little flat. In addition, each story felt slightly rushed (the entire book comes in a little over 200 pages).
The themes of forgiveness, learning to trust, and believing that God is always there for you, even when horrible or unimaginable things are happening, run strongly through the book. Ms. Tolsma has a knack for delivering these themes in a way that does not feel ‘preachy.’
I rate this book 4/5 starts and recommend it for dual-timeline fans and those who enjoy themes of forgiveness and learning to trust. The points of view from one character in each story didn’t really work for me, but Ms. Tolsma has crafted a well-researched and well-written book and I did find it to be an enjoyable read.
**I received a complimentary copy of this book from Barbour Books through Celebrate Lit and Netgalley. All opinions are my own.**
About the Author
More From Liz
The Story of Susannah Dickinson, Alamo Survivor
When asked how many died at the Alamo, many would answer that everyone did. While it’s true that all fighting on the side of Texas independence perished, there were survivors, all women and children and one slave. The only white woman (the rest were of Mexican descent) was Susannah Dickinson, along with her daughter Angelina. Susannah had followed her husband, Almaron, to Mexican Texas in 1831. They had married two years before when Susannah was just fifteen. She never learned to read or write.
She and the other women hid in the sacristy of the church, one of the surviving buildings in the mission and what we now think of as the Alamo. Her husband died, but Mexican General Santa Anna found them and spared their lives, sending them to Sam Houston with $2 each and a blanket.
She married again the following year but divorced him almost immediately on the grounds of cruelty. She married a third time the following year and was married for five years until her husband died of alcoholism. A fourth marriage occurred in 1847, but she divorced again in 1857, this time allegedly because she was having an affair. That same year, she married for a fifth time. This marriage lasted until her death in 1883.
The ring in A Promise Engraved is based on a cat’s eye ring supposedly given to Angelina by William Travis before the battle. Angelina was Susannah’s only child. She married and had three children, but that marriage ended in divorce. She gave the ring to a man she’d become involved with in New Orleans. She married again and had one more child but died in 1869 from a uterine hemorrhage.
Today there are many descendants of Susannah Dickinson. If you visit the Susannah Dickinson house in Austin, you’ll see a quilt that is signed by many of her living descendants.
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To celebrate her tour, Liz is giving away the grand prize package of a $25 Amazon gift card and copy of the book!!
Be sure to comment on the blog stops for nine extra entries into the giveaway! Click the link below to enter.
Writer/Editor. Voracious Book Reader. World Traveler. Veteran.