Monday, February 19, 2007

Whispers of Heaven by Candice Proctor

WOH is set in Australia on the island of Tasmania in 1840. One of my favorite books of all time is Proctor's Night in Eden which was also set in Australia. So after reading NIE and hearing all the glowing praise on various message boards and review sites about WOH, I had to have it. But after purchasing it I stowed it away in my humongous TBR where it has been collecting dust for the past 3 or 4 years. I dug this one out of the pile to take on my vacation and I'm so glad I did.

Jesmond Corbett has just returned home to Tasmania after two years abroad studying geology. While she was away her beloved father died and now her disapproving, controlling mother is pressuring her to set a date to wed her long time fiancé, Harrison Tate, a neighboring wealthy landowner. Their engagement was arranged by her father before she left and Jessie is resigned to the marriage. They have been friends since childhood but Harrison does not stir her emotions and Jessie can't help feeling restless and reluctant to marry. Harrison loves her but his prim and proper demeanor and demands of obedience makes her question the arrangment.

Australia was established as a penal colony and English families, such as Jessie's, came and settled there to take advantage of the cheap convict labor and amass vast fortunes. Lucas Gallagher is a convict laborer on the Corbett homestead and has been transported for life with no hope of parole. Lucas works in the quarries but when Jessie's brother Warwick discovers his talent with horses, he assigns him to the stables where Lucas meets Jessie and immediately becomes her groom. Lucas spends his time taming the magnificent horse Jessie brought back from England and accompanying Jessie on her ramblings over the estate.

Jessie is fascinated with Lucas and their growing attraction quickly becomes dangerous. In Australian society it is strictly taboo for anyone to wed an emancipated convict, let alone one who has no hope of a pardon. Add to this conflict the fact that Lucas is desperate to escape and you have an overwhelming sense of doom and hopelessness in their relationship.

This is one of the most unique historicals I have read in a long time and I found it a powerful, emotional, and truly unforgettable story. The setting was beautifully described and the characters were authentic and well-developed. The historical detail seemed accurate with an intriguing plot filled with conflict and sexual tension. Throughout the book I could not see how these two would ever get a happy ending, but they did and it was perfect. The secondary characters were also realistic without descending into stereotyping. Proctor is such a talented author it's a real shame she no longer writes romance.

When I first graded this book I gave it a B+, but I have not been able to get these characters and this love story out of my head so that says keeper to me.

My grade: A


CindyS said...

I have this in the TBR pile - I also loved Night In Eden and have been buying up Proctor's backlist ever since.


Kristie (J) said...

Every so often I read a book that I just can't let go of. It's so rich, so beautiful, so haunting I can't forget the characters and they live on long after I close the book. This happened with this book. I have a whole story composed in my head about what happens to Lucas and Jessie after. I just loved this one because of the growth and change we see in Jessie.
Renee, I'm so glad you finally read it! It's in my top 3 of all books I've ever read and I can't recommend it highly enough!!!
Cindy - you just HAVE to read this one!!

AngieZ said...

I have not heard of this book, but it sounds wonderful. Something new to add to my ever growing wishlist/TBR pile.

ReneeW said...

Cindy: You must read it. Oh, the pressure is on. Last time was a bust but trust me this time :) I think (hope) you'll like it.

Kristie: It's hard to let go of this one, isn't it? This book has all the earmarks of a classic. I would love to revisit Lucas and Jessie in a sequel but that will never happen. I'll just have re-read WOH over and over.

Angiez: Oh, you must read. You are in for a treat.

Tara Marie said...

I have not been able to get these characters and this love story out of my head so that says keeper to me. A sure sign of a keeper :D

As much as I like this one Night in Eden is still my favorite Proctor. September Moon and Beyond Sunrise are two more of my favorites. I have all 4 on my keeper shelf

Rosie said...

Wow, I don't think I've ever read Proctor. Guess I better check her out.

ReneeW said...

Tara: I give both NIE and WOH the same grade and it would be hard to choose a favorite but I think NIE edges out WOH by a whisker just because the heroine in NIE really got to me. Her predicatment was very heart wrenching. I also loved Beyond Sunrise (A-). Haven't read September Moon yet but I think it's floating around my TBR somewhere.

Rosie: It seems that Proctor is not well known but those of us who have found her small backlist can't help but be huge fans. You must try either NIE or WOH.

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