Monday, March 4, 2013

Blog Tour Review: Romancing Olive by Holly Bush

From the Back Cover:

In 1891, spinster librarian, Olive Wilkins, is shocked to learn of her brother’s violent death at a saloon gaming table and her sister-in-law’s subsequent murder, traveling far from her staid life to rescue her niece and nephew, now orphans. She arrives to find the circumstances of her brother’s life deplorable and her long held beliefs of family and tradition, shaken. 

Accustomed to the sophistication of Philadelphia, Olive arrives in Spencer, Ohio, a rough and tumble world she is not familiar with, facing two traumatized children. Her niece and nephew, Mary and John, have been living with a neighboring farmer, widower Jacob Butler, the father of three young children of his own and a man still in pain from the recent loss of his wife. 

Real danger threatens Olive and Mary and John while Jacob and his own brood battle the day-to-day struggles for survival. Will Olive and Jacob find the strength to fight their battles alone or together? Will love conquer the bitterness of loss and broken dreams?

My Thoughts:

Many of my reading buddies have discovered Holly Bush and have raved about her novels, and after reading Romancing Olive, I'm hopping on that bandwagon too! I really enjoyed this story of a Philadelphia society spinster uprooting herself and discovering a whole new world in rural Ohio, and discovering that it's never too late in life to reinvent oneself or to find true love. Olive Wilkins arrives in Ohio after being notified of the death of her younger brother and his wife, determined to become a mother to his orphaned children, John and Mary. When she arrives she finds them in the care of her brother's neighbor, a ruggedly handsome widowed farmer struggling to feed and care for five children. Olive's preconceived notions are forced out the window in the face of the stark reality that greets her, and she gives in to Jacob's request that she stay for a while and get to know the children before she takes them back east. As Olive tries to adapt to country life and Jacob tries to adapt to the presence of a woman again, their polite coexistence gradually gives way into something more, but both Olive and Jacob have their reasons for holding back. As the time for Olive to return to Philadelphia draws near, Olive must decide if she will settle for a safe and comfortable life on her own or if she has the courage to reach for the happiness she's only recently discovered she deserves. But before she can make that choice, a man with a grudge may destroy everything she's worked so hard for . . .

Having struck out on the last few historical romances I've read, Romancing Olive was a pleasant surprise! Olive and Jacob were both a little over-dramatic for my taste in the beginning, but the characters soon settled in and I was on my way. Olive has a great character arc; it was a treat to watch her character unfold and bloom as she settled into life on a farm and learned to savor the joy in conquering fears and becoming self-sufficient . . . and in learning what it means to love a man. I thought this story had a few things going for it that help it stand out from the crowd. This is a good meaty romance, by which I mean that our characters face some real problems on their way to happily ever after. I've only read a handful of romances where the heroine is significantly older than the hero, and I thought it was handled very realistically in this one. Jacob wrestles with his guilt over having feelings for Olive while still grieving for his wife, and Olive struggles with the fear of always being second in his heart. Then there are heartbreaking moments as Olive tries to nurture and heal her brother's traumatized children. Add to that the special needs of one of Jacob's children, the hardships of living off the land, and a disgruntled in-law bent on removing John and Mary from Olive's custody and you've got a recipe for an angst-filled, intense romantic story. And the time period really comes to life in Ms. Bush's capable hands.

Romancing Olive turned out to be a pretty emotional read for me. It runs the whole range from highs to lows and laughs to tears. I shed a few myself during some really poignant moments in the story, and I was on the edge of my seat, heart pounding, as the story raced toward its dramatic and terrifying climax. For my friends who are bothered by errors in books, be advised there are a few in this one. But nothing major--some punctuation and a few homonyms--not enough to detract from my enjoyment of the story. In fact, I am looking forward to starting Ms. Bush's newest novel, Reconstructing Jackson, later today. She can write a good story, and she's on her way to a successful career if she keeps writing emotional, evocative romances like this one!

My Rating:  4 Stars out of 5

Giveaway! Enter to win your own copy of Romancing Olive!

Leave a comment with your email address for a chance to win an ebook--winner's choice: ePub, mobi, or PDF. This giveaway is open internationally and ends at 11:59pm Tuesday, March 12th. Winner will be selected at random. Thanks, and good luck!

This giveaway is closed and the winner has been selected. Stay tuned for more great giveaways!

Romancing Olive is on a blog tour! I'll be back on Thursday with my review of Reconstructing Jackson and another giveaway. Click here to see the tour schedule and more blogs hosting reviews and giveaways!


  1. Romancing Olive sounds like my kind of read. Thank you.
    campbellamyd at gmail dot com

  2. HF set in the US? yes please send it my way, as epub if possible. thanks for the giveaway.
    ehc16e at yahoo dot com

  3. Thanks Jenny for the beautiful review! I'm really glad you liked Jacob and Olive's story and hope your followers do too!

  4. I would love to start reading Romancing Olive. I love anything historical. I grew up in Indiana so it is very pleasing to think of Ohio as the West. I love books that I get emotionally submerged in so I really thought your review was great.


  5. I love historical fiction and have not read much that is based in the United States. Would love to give this one a try.

    tmrtini at gmail dot com

  6. Thanks for the giveaway! I've seen this series around on various blogs and have been intrigued by it.

    mestith at gmail dot com


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