This week’s review focuses on a book first published in 2019 and recently revised and republished. I’ve read both editions, and the story has certainly aged well!
FTC Disclosure: I received a free copy of this book in exchange for a review. I was not required to leave a positive review; thoughts and opinions are entirely my own.
Title: Souls Astray
Series: Kees and Colliers
Author: Kellyn Roth
Genre: Historical fiction; Romance
Rating: 4/5 stars
Overview: I first read Souls Astray a couple of years ago. I immediately fell in love with it, relating to the rawness of the characters and their numerous issues and admiring the tasteful way in which Kellyn Roth portrayed the actions of unrepentant people. At the time, I called it my favorite Kellyn Roth book yet. While that title now belongs to Beyond Her Calling, this one is still well up there in the rankings.
Characters: Adele is a terrible human being. She’s incredibly self-centered and has little concern for the feelings of others. By all rights, we should detest her. And yet, somehow we don’t. Her backstory reveals the reasons as to why she is who she is, and though she’s not who anyone would want to be, she’s who many of us are—or at least, who we would be apart from Christ. I feel sorry for her more than anything. (Which would make her extremely put out with me, I’m sure.) Troy, though… Such a sweetheart! He’s got his own issues, but he’s a precious baby, and it hurts to see him hurt. I relate to him in numerous ways, Holt being one of the most important. I need my own Holt! Harrington’s my favorite character. I adore that grouchy man. I’d totally read a series about his adventures unearthing petty crimes in the French countryside. (Because obviously that’s how he spends his free time, when he’s not reading Tolstoy.)
Content: This is a romance, so there are many romantic elements. Adele dates around but always draws the line at sleeping with her boyfriends. The only person we see her kiss is Troy, though it’s shared that she’s kissed most of her boyfriends. Two characters almost go too far in their pre-marital physical relationship. The language is clean. There are three or four uses of “gosh.” Characters drink and smoke. Troy owns a vineyard and sells wine for a living.
Writing: Roth’s writing is always beautiful. She’s excellent at creating realistic characters who draw the reader into their world—their gritty, messy, dysfunctional world. Roth never shies away from difficult topics, and this book is definitely no exception. But everything is handled with so much grace and tact, while at the same time not hiding how truly bad these situations are.
Summary: Roth’s recent revisions to this book have made a great story even stronger. This is the story of two dysfunctional people trying to make a family, and it’s pulled off quite well. I would recommend this book to fans of historical romance aged 14+.