My rating: 5 of 5 stars
This review is not just for Sentence of Marriage, which is the first book in Promises to Keep. I just finished the 3rd book, the ending of a long story started in Sentence of Marriage. Shayne Parkinson’s decision to publish one long novel in three parts has angered some reviewers, who feel cheated when the first two books end on nail-biting cliff hangers and they feel compelled to buy another book to find out what happens next.
Compelled to buy another book. That alone tells you a great deal about the series and about Shayne Parkinson’s writing. How many truly compelling books do we find in a year? Not many.
Promises to Keep is compelling because it is so well written. The story is not unusual: a sweet hard working country girl falls in love with a smooth talking city man who deserts her when she becomes pregnant. To save her family from shame, she’s forced to give away her baby, and to marry an older man she doesn’t love.
How old is that plot? They say there are no new stories, but this surely must be one of the oldest stories ever told. But, let me tell you, it has never been told better than Shayne Parkinson tells it.
The story is set in New Zealand, beginning in 1881 and spanning about 25 years. Every scene is rich with historical detail and an unerring sense of place and time. There are dozens of characters, but I never got them mixed up because each person was so perfectly described and set apart with a distinct personality and story of their own.
Bottom line, Shayne Parkinson is now on my short list of favorite writers. She knows how to tell a good story.