Fairer than Morning

( 25 )

Overview

Ann dreams of a marriage proposal from her poetic suitor, Eli—until Will Hanby shows her that nobility is more than fine words.

On a small farm in 19th-century Ohio, young Ann Miller is pursued by the gallant Eli Bowen, son of a prominent family. Eli is the suitor of Ann's dreams. Like her, he enjoys poetry and beautiful things and soon, he will move to the city to become a doctor.

Ann travels to Pittsburgh, accompanying her father on business....

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Overview

Ann dreams of a marriage proposal from her poetic suitor, Eli—until Will Hanby shows her that nobility is more than fine words.

On a small farm in 19th-century Ohio, young Ann Miller is pursued by the gallant Eli Bowen, son of a prominent family. Eli is the suitor of Ann's dreams. Like her, he enjoys poetry and beautiful things and soon, he will move to the city to become a doctor.

Ann travels to Pittsburgh, accompanying her father on business. There she meets Will Hanby, a saddle-maker's apprentice. Will has spent years eking out an existence under a cruel master and his spirit is nearly broken. But Ann's compassion lights a long-dark part of his soul. Through his encounters with Ann's father, a master saddler, Will discovers new hope and courage in the midst of tremendous adversity.

When the Millers must return to Ohio and their ministry there, Will resolves to find them, at any cost. If Will can make it back to Ann, will she be waiting?

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Editorial Reviews

Library Journal
When Ann Miller and her two sisters travel in 1826 with their circuit minister father from Ohio to Pittsburgh, they are followed by a mysterious man. The pursuit causes Ann to wonder whether her father may be involved in something more than just ministry. Will Hanby is the indentured servant to a ruthless saddle maker. Ann's arrival gives him hope that he can rise beyond his humble origins. In secret, the two begin to assist fugitive slaves along the Underground Railroad until the Millers return home to Ohio, tearing the kindred souls apart. VERDICT This well-written historical series debut with a homespun feel is sure to please Lori Wick readers.
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9781595547859
  • Publisher: Nelson, Thomas, Inc.
  • Publication date: 5/10/2011
  • Series: A Saddler's Legacy Novel Series , #1
  • Pages: 400
  • Sales rank: 821,435
  • Product dimensions: 5.40 (w) x 8.20 (h) x 1.10 (d)

Meet the Author

Rosslyn Elliott is the recipient of two Carol awards, which are selected by a panel of esteemed peers and denote excellence in Christian fiction. Sheattended Yale University andearned a Ph.D. in literaturefrom Emory University. Rosslynlives with her husband and daughter in the land of pecan pies and magnolia trees,where sheteaches horseback riding lessons andworks inchildren's ministry.

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Read an Excerpt

FAIRER THAN Morning


By Rosslyn Elliott

Thomas Nelson

Copyright © 2011 Rosslyn Elliott
All right reserved.

ISBN: 978-1-59554-975-4


Chapter One

Rushville, Ohio 15th July 1823

Proposals of marriage should not cause panic. That much she knew.

Eli knelt before her on the riverbank. His cheekbones paled into marble above his high collar. Behind him, the water rushed in silver eddies, dashed itself against the bank, and spiraled onward out of sight. If only she could melt into the water and tumble away with it down the narrow valley.

She clutched the folds of her satin skirt, as the answer she wanted to give him slid away in her jumbled thoughts.

Afternoon light burnished his blond hair to gold. "Must I beg for you? Then I shall." He smiled. "You know I have a verse for every occasion. 'Is it thy will thy image should keep open, My heavy eyelids to the weary night? Dost thou desire my slumbers should be broken, While shadows like to thee do mock my sight?'"

The silence lengthened. His smile faded.

"No." The single word was all Ann could muster. It sliced the air between them with its awkward sharpness.

He faltered. "You refuse me?"

"I must."

He released her hand, his eyes wide, his lips parted. After a pause, he closed his mouth and swallowed visibly. "But why?" Hurt flowered in his face.

"We're too young." The words sounded tinny and false even to her.

"You've said that youth is no barrier to true love. And I'm nineteen." He rose to his feet, buttoning his cobalt cutaway coat.

"But I'm only fifteen." Again Ann failed to disguise her hollowness.

She had never imagined a proposal so soon, always assuming it years away, at a safe distance. She should never have told him how she loved the story of Romeo and Juliet. Only a week ago she had called young marriage romantic, as she and Eli sat close to one another on that very riverbank, reading the parts of the lovers in low voices.

"There is some other reason." In his mounting indignation, he resembled a blond avenging angel. "What is it? Is it because I did not ask your father first?"

"You should have asked him, but even so, he would not have consented. Father will not permit me to marry until I am eighteen."

"Eighteen? Three years?" His eyes were the blue at the center of a candle flame. "Then you must change his mind. I cannot wait." He slid his hands behind her elbows and pulled her close. His touch aligned all her senses to him like nails cleaving to a magnet. With an effort, she twisted from his grasp and shook her head.

His brow creased and he looked away as if he could not bear the sight of her. "I think it very callous of you to refuse me without the slightest attempt to persuade your father."

"I do not think he will change his mind. He has been very clear."

"Then perhaps you should have been-clearer-yourself." His faint sarcasm stung her, as if a bee had crawled beneath the lace of her bodice.

He dropped his gaze. "You would not give up so easily if you cared. You have deceived me, Ann."

He turned and walked up the riverbank, the white lining flashing from the gore of his coat over his boot tops. Before she could even call out, he topped the ridge and disappeared from view.

She stared blankly after him. She was so certain that the Lord had intended Eli to be her husband. But that once-distant future had arrived too early, and now it lay in ruins.

Numb, she collected the history and rhetoric books that she had dropped on the grass. She must change her father's mind, as Eli had said. If she did not, all was lost.

She clutched the books to her like a shield and began the long walk home.

In front of the farmhouse, her two young sisters crouched in the grass in their flowered frocks. Mabel pointed her chubby little finger at an insect on the ground. Susan brushed back wispy strands of light-brown hair and peered at it.

"Have you seen Father?" Ann asked them.

Their soft faces turned toward her.

"He's in the workshop." Mabel's voice was high and pure and still held a trace of her baby lisp. She turned back to inspect the grass.

"He said he is writing a sermon and please not to disturb him," Susan added with the panache of an eight-year-old giving orders.

Without comment, Ann angled toward the barn, which held the horses and also a workshop for her father's saddle and harness business. Like most circuit riders, he did not earn his living from his ministry, and so he crafted sermons and saddles at the same workbench.

He glanced up when the wooden door slapped against its frame behind her.

"Ann." His clean-shaven face showed the wear of his forty years, though his posture was vigorous and his constitution strong from hours of riding and farm work. "I asked Susan to let you know I was writing." There was no blame in his voice. He had always been gentle with them, and even more so since their mother had passed away.

"She did. But I must speak with you."

"You seem perturbed." He laid down his quill and turned around in his chair. "Will you sit down?"

"No, thank you." She clasped her hands in front of her and pressed them against her wide sash to steady herself as she took a quick breath. "Eli Bowen proposed to me today."

"Without asking my blessing?" A small line appeared between his brows. "And what did you tell him?"

"That I cannot marry until I am eighteen. That you have forbidden it."

"That is true. I have good reason to ask you to wait." He regarded her steadily.

She summoned restraint with effort. "What reason? I am young, I know, but he is nineteen. He can make his way in the world. He wishes to go to medical school."

"I don't doubt that Mr. Bowen is a fine young man." Her father's reply was calm. "But I do not think your mother would have let you marry so young."

"Dora Sumner married last year, and she was only sixteen." She paced across the room, casting her eyes on the floor, on the walls, anywhere but on him. He must not refuse, he must not. He did not understand.

"I am not Dora's father." His voice was flat, unyielding. He turned to his table and gently closed his Bible. When he faced her again, his demeanor softened. "Your mother almost married another man when she was your age. She told me it would have been a terrible match. She was glad she waited until she was eighteen." He looked at her mother's tiny portrait in its oval ivory frame on the table. "She said that by the time she met me, she knew her own mind and wasn't quite as silly."

"I am not silly. I know how I feel. And he is not a terrible match." Her voice grew quieter as her throat tightened.

"I am sorry, Ann. I must do what I think is right." He was sober and sad.

Or what is convenient. For who else would care for my sisters, if not me?

But such thoughts wronged her father, for she had never known him to act from self-interest.

"But how can he wait for me? He is older than I am. He will want to marry before three years are out." She did not try to keep the pleading from her voice, though her face tingled.

He paused, then leaned forward, as steady and quiet as when he comforted a bereaved widow. "Then he does not deserve you."

"No, you are simply mistaken. And cruel."

He stood up and walked to the back of the barn.

Clutching her skirt, she whirled around, pushed through the door, and ran for the house.

She would not give way to tears. She must stay calm. She slowed to a walk so her sisters would not be startled and passed them without a word.

Her bedroom beckoned her down the dark hallway.

She did not throw herself on the bed, as she had so often that first year after the loss of her mother.

Instead, she went to her desk, lifted the top, and fished out her diary. Her skirts sent up a puff of air as she flounced into the seat and began writing feverishly. After some time, the even curves of her handwriting mesmerized her, and her quill slowed. She lifted it from the page of the book and gazed ahead at the dark oaken wall.

What if he does not wait for me?

She must not doubt him so. Eli would regain his good humor and understand. He had told her many times that she was his perfect match, that he would never find another girl so admirable and with such uncommon interest in the life of the mind.

Besides, she had been praying to someday find a husband of like interests and kind heart, and God had provided. Eli loved poetry and appreciated fine art, but he was nonetheless a man's man who liked to ride and hunt. And of course, he was every village girl's dream, with his aristocratic face. No other young man in Rushville could compare.

She doodled on the bottom of the page. First she wrote her own name.

Ann Miller.

Then she wrote his. Then she wrote her name with his.

Ann Bowen.

Ann Bowen.

Ann Bowen.

She smiled, pushed the diary aside, and pillowed her head on her arm to daydream of white bridal gowns and orange blossoms.

Chapter Two

Pennsylvania 18th July 1823

If a young man had to sign away his freedom for five whole years, surely this was the best way to do it. Will pulled the heavy window cloth aside and leaned forward to look out the carriage window.

"Not yet, boy," Master Good said.

What a kind voice Will's future master had. It was smooth as oiled leather, befitting a man with a calm brow and a steady gaze. Master Good's hair was uncommonly dark for a man of middle age, his light blue eyes ageless under the rim of his fine black hat. He lifted his hand with fluid grace to gesture at the window. "See that hill?"

"Yes, sir." The carriage drove alongside a huge mound that obscured their view. All Will could see was a tapestry of grass rolling past the window at a rapid rate. The foot-tall growth on the hillside was mostly green, but here and there threads of dry straw whispered of colder days to come.

"The city won't come into view until we round the hill." Master Good lifted his leather satchel into his lap. Unbuckling the clasp, he drew out several pieces of ivory parchment and thrust them in Will's direction. "Look, boy."

Will let the cloth fall back over the window and wiped his hand on his pants before taking the papers.

His master leaned back against the leather seat. "We'll be stopping soon to sign this and have it witnessed by my neighbor. Best to read through it now so we can be quick."

Will was grateful his father had taught him to read so well. Father would be proud now, if he could see how Will had secured such a good future for himself.

The threat of tears prickled in his eyes. He fought them off. It had been six years since he lost his parents. The boy of ten who wept every night that year was now almost a young man. He would behave like one, especially in front of his soon-to-be master.

Holding the documents in one hand, Will pressed his thin knapsack with the other and reassured himself that his folded packet of letters was still in there. Those letters and the little silver locket were all he had left of his mother and father.

He stared at the papers Master Good had given him. The letters stood out in thick flourishes, stark and black against the purity of the paper.

County of Allegheny To wit Mr. Jacob Good Came this Day in the presence of witness, to receive William Hanby as an Apprentice for the period of five years, to learn the art or trade of Saddlery and perform sundry duties to support his Master's trade. During the whole of this period said Apprentice will be in His Master's Service and will not work for Hire for any other person; he will be obedient to his Master's command and diligent in his Employment. To his Master he will grant all Sovereignty over his person and his whereabouts for the duration of his Apprenticeship; his Master shall provide him with bed and board. Upon the successful completion of the Term, his Master shall furnish him with a set of tools of the trade, one new coat, and one pair of new shoes. Signed, dated, and countersigned,

"You see that all is in order," Master Good said. He adjusted his hat and opened his hand for the papers.

"Yes, sir. Thank you, sir." Will gave back the indenture agreement with care.

The driver on top of the carriage whistled to the horses in their traces; the whip cracked. The jostling increased, and Will's shoulder rammed into the wooden doorframe on his left. Wincing, he leaned again to the window and pulled the small curtain aside.

The city of Pittsburgh! The coach had topped the hill. In the valley below, three rivers joined and a jumbled maze of dark buildings spread out between them. Smoke drifted over the city like thick fog. He smelled something unpleasant, like burning refuse. No matter. Naturally, where there's industry and wealth, there will be smoke. Nothing could quell his excitement.

All he had known was life on a farm. When he was seven, his parents and his two sisters had developed a consumption that gave them first a cough, then fever and pains throughout the body. On a doctor's advice, his father had indentured Will and his still-healthy brother, Johnny, to two separate farming families, in order to save them from infection. Over the course of two years, one letter after another informed Will that first his sisters and then his father and mother had succumbed to virulent infection of the blood, an effect of consumption no doctor could heal.

With the Quaker farmer, Will's work had been hard, though the farmer was fair and honest. Will had longed to see more than barns and horses—he wanted to read books, see ships, talk to travelers. When his farm indenture expired last month, he had jumped at the chance for a Pittsburgh apprenticeship. He could hardly wait for the larger world that lay before him.

At the bottom of the hill, the coach entered a labyrinth of streets dense with buildings. First was a two-story mercantile, then a livery stable. Next came a brick warehouse with "Rifles and Munitions" painted in white across its side. Pedestrians clotted the road. The coach clattered past doctors' establishments with gilt signs, and offices for attorneys-at-law.

"Master Good, look. Another saddler." Will pointed to a sign with a saddle and two crossed whips.

"Yes, I have plenty of would-be rivals." His master did not seem curious about the sights, but instead picked up a newspaper that lay on the seat beside him and scanned the advertisements. Outside the window, the crowd thinned and wider plots of land girdled genteel residences.

The carriage slowed and shuddered to a stop as the driver yelled, "Whoa there!" Boots thumped on the ground outside and the driver opened the door for them, his hat and whiskers covered with dust.

Will's master stooped to exit the carriage, and then it was Will's turn. He slung his knapsack over his shoulder with care. He would not let it out of his sight until he had a safe place for the letters and the locket in the little drawstring pouch.

When Will climbed down from the coach, his master was already striding toward a two-story white home, graceful amid green lawns. Will had never seen such a large dwelling; he tried not to let his eyes pop like a bumpkin's.

He quickened his step to catch up with his master, who rapped with a brass knocker on the blue double door. After a brief wait, the door opened to reveal a young woman in a gray dress and white apron, her hair bound in a net.

"Hello, Mary," Master Good said. "I need to speak with the doctor, if you please."

She bobbed her head and ushered them in, then disappeared into the recesses of the home.

The foyer had a high ceiling, marble floor, and a banister-lined staircase curving up and back to the left. A painting in muted tones depicted a dark valley, relieved only by rays of light breaking through massed clouds above.

"Good afternoon to you, Jacob." A deep voice issued from the man who stepped through the arched doorway on the far side of the foyer. He was of average height and wore a black frock coat; his hair was pure white and his shoulders straight as a soldier's. As he crossed the room to offer a hand to Will's master, he shot Will a quick glance. Will wished his own coat and trousers were not so threadbare and shabby.

"Dr. Loftin." Master Good shook the doctor's hand briefly, then clasped Will's shoulder. "This is my new apprentice, William Hanby."

(Continues...)



Excerpted from FAIRER THAN Morning by Rosslyn Elliott Copyright © 2011 by Rosslyn Elliott. Excerpted by permission of Thomas Nelson. All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.
Excerpts are provided by Dial-A-Book Inc. solely for the personal use of visitors to this web site.

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Customer Reviews

Average Rating 4.5
( 25 )
Rating Distribution

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See All Sort by: Showing 1 – 20 of 25 Customer Reviews
  • Posted April 22, 2011

    more from this reviewer

    Fantastic Debut Novel

    I enjoy historical fiction most when I learn something new about the time period while at the same time getting pleasure from a good tale. "Fairer than Morning", the debut novel from Rosslyn Elliott, fits both these criteria. This novel is based on the true story of Will Hanby and Ann Miller, and is the first in the Saddler's Legacy series, a reference to the occupation of both Will Hanby and Samuel Miller, Ann's father.

    The story opens in 1823. Samuel is a part-time circuit rider who makes and sells saddles when he's not preaching. Ann is the oldest of three sisters, taking care of them and their widowed father. Will is an orphan indentured to a cruel master saddler. There are many twists and turns in the plot, starting with the man in the raccoon hat who seems to be following the family from Ohio to Pittsburgh where Samuel travels to make a specially-ordered saddle for a wealthy customer.

    Because the book is based on real people, there is a strong sense of history and realism. In the afterword, Elliott explains which information is factual and where she has taken artistic license to make a more compelling story or fill in gaps in known history.

    This story inspired me to search online to learn a little more about the Hanby and Miller families. I can't wait until the next book in the series comes out next year.

    Disclosure of Material Connection: I received this book free from the publisher through the BookSneeze book review bloggers program. I was not required to write a positive review. The opinions I have expressed are my own. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission's 16 CFR, Part 255.

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted September 25, 2011

    more from this reviewer

    Fairer Than Morning by Rosslynn Elliott

    Ann Miller is a 19th-century woman. After the death of her mother, Ann helps with her younger sisters. At the age of 16, Eli Bowen, enters her life and has designs on her.

    Will Hanby works for a cruel master, a saddle-maker from Pittsburgh. Will crosses paths with Ann. Despite the pain he has endured, Will hopes his encounter with Ann will change his fate.
    Suspenseful, this story looks into the lives of indentured, it shows the cruelties they often endured. Remember, with God, there is always hope.

    Escaping his tormentor, Will finds refuge with Ann and her family. Samuel Miller trains Will in saddle making, and introduces him to the Underground Railroad and Christianity.
    Ann is in love with Eli. Although Eli asks Ann to marry him, she is worried about leaving her sisters and father.

    Ann finds a mysterious man pursued her from Ohio.

    Ann is forced to think about the kind of life she wants to live.

    I recommend it highly.

    Thomas Nelson has provided me with a complimentary copy of this book.

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  • Posted September 24, 2011

    more from this reviewer

    Fun new author

    I read this book as a participant in a Litfuse blog tour. Lately I have not been requesting or participating in very many tours or solicited reviews, but this was one I really wanted to read. I liked how Eliot used the names and history of real people and then fleshed them out with her own ideas and creations. She really made history come alive on the pages of her novel and made each of the characters seem like they could really be living breathing people.


    Things are so different now with what is and is not proper, that it was interesting watching and reading about how women and men had to act and how people coming from different social stations interacted. This is the first time I really feel like I have had a glimpse inside a Poor House or at life as an apprentice. Imagining how orphans or children whose parents were unable to care for them were forced to make their way without much help from government or society was eye opening.


    Also very relevant and insightful were the glimpses of the underground railroad and how slaves found their way north and the very real dangers that they encountered in their quest to be free. I was struck by the similarity of the runaway slaves and the apprentice, how someone who owned them or had their indenture could inflict whatever type of treatment he or she desired and the court and government would look the other way because of a piece of paper or because they were owned.


    This book gave a very real feeling and once I started reading it I had a hard time putting it down.

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  • Posted September 23, 2011

    Fun New Author

    originally signed up for this book tour because the book takes place near where my husband grew up in Ohio, albeit a century or so before he came into the picture. I thought it would be fun to read some fiction inspired by some of the people who once lived there.


    I truly enjoyed this book. It had a great story line and all the pieces were woven together very well. I always enjoy a story that can make you think without being preachy. As much as I enjoy George MacDonald, an actual well written story line is always appreciated. This book makes you think about who you are and who is your faith in? Who are you when push comes to shove and your life is on the line? Do you preserve your life at any cost or do you do what's right? Is what's right for one also the same right for someone else?


    I love that the story can involve these thoughts and points but not get bogged down by them. It is also a very sweet love story. Then there are several beautiful families contrasted by those who choose evil. I am looking forward to the next book in this series.


    I did receive this book from the publisher, Thomas Nelson, in exchange for my honest review

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  • Posted September 22, 2011

    Sweet Story

    Ann Miller is a young woman with a lot of responsibilities. Because her mother died in childbirth, Ann takes care of her father and two younger sisters. Will Hanby is a young apprentice with a horrible master. When Ann and Will's paths cross, they discover they have several things in common. However, they both are potentially involved with other people. Throw in some runaway slaves and a bounty hunter, and you've got a historical novel full of intrigue and romance.


    As I read the cover blurb, I thought I was getting into a romance. This book was much more a historical novel though. The two main stories being told are Ann's and Will's. Ann has had a hard life taking care of her family. Her father often travels to preach to far-off congregations. Ann also had to refuse a potential husband at a very young age and has been sad ever since. Will has lost both parents, and he became an apprentice to someone who makes saddles. He has a vicious master though, and eventually takes matters into his own hands. Ann and Will were both very interesting characters. They both dealt with struggles to the best of their abilities. While Ann is devoted in her faith, you get an opportunity to see Will truly seek and grow in his beliefs.

    On top of all that, there is also a story involving two runaway slaves who are desperate for freedom. One thing I found interesting was how the author was able to show very good examples of bad people using Bible versus to support their twisted beliefs. While there are no huge surprises or anything like that, the book is very sweet. If you are looking for romance is may be a little on the lighter end there, but the historical story is absolutely fascinating.


    Book provided for review.

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  • Posted September 18, 2011

    History in the making

    I started this book Saturday and didn't want to put the book down. The story grabbed me from the first page and got better as it went on. We learn that Ann is a big sister who spends her time looking after her two younger sisters as their mother died when the youngest was born. She is doing a great job with them and is being pursued by Eli. In Pittsburgh Will is apprenticed to a saddler who we find out is not all he seems and Wills life changes forever. The two meet when Ann's father takes her on a trip to Pittsburgh and Will has a chance to work with Ann's father. Her father gives him hope.
    This book is so much more than a inspirational romance yes there is the romance in the story but it deals with so much more. There are sub stories that are important to the whole story. There were times when I really felt for the characters. I am eagerly awaiting book two in this series as I want to know what happens next

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  • Posted September 16, 2011

    more from this reviewer

    Wonderful Historical Fiction

    Living in Rushville, Ohio, personal loss of her mother keeps Ann Miller close to her father in the raising and care of her younger sisters and plays an intregal part in her not marrying her beau, Eli Bowen, when he first attempts to ask for her hand. At the same time in Pittsburgh, PA, Will Hanby is trying to survive at the hands of a cruel task-master, Jacob Good, and live day-by-day untl he can finally be free. This story has many twists and turns that will keep you turning the pages til these two finally find their way to each other. Their's is a sweet and tender romance, but one filled with alot of history binding their tale and lives together. Come into their story as life's circumstances, such as slavery, abolition, runaways, faith, and love find the way into weaving this wonderful tale.


    When you are reading this story you don't realize just how much history is actually in it. At the end, Ms. Elliott shows all the facts and it is so interesting how much is fiction and how much is actual truth, even down to the pigs in the story. I am really beginning to enjoy historical romance novels and though this one is a little light on the romance, it is still a truly wonderful story. I look forward to seeing what Ms. Elliott comes out with next!!


    I would highly recommend this book to anyone who enjoys a light, historical romance novel.


    This book was kindly provided to me by it's wonderful author and LitFuse Book Tours for my honest review.

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  • Posted September 15, 2011

    more from this reviewer

    Hard to put down

    19th century Ohio is the setting for this wonderful story of love, courage, faith, and hope. Ann is a young woman who has been raising her sisters due to the untimely death of her mother. Her life has been put on hold creating a problem for her when Eli, the "love of her life," asks her to marry him and her father says no. This event puts into play so many changes that Ann almost can't keep up with them. She needs to get out and see other people, but it hurts to see Eli with another girl.

    Her father must travel to Pittsburgh on business and Ann convinces him to take everyone. Ann finds a new world away from the farm. Here she meets the very rich and the very poor. Here her heart breaks for others, and here she meets Will. Will has had a great deal of heartache in his life as well and that creates a bond between them. But, when the Miller's go home to Ohio, Will is left behind. Will his subsequent search lead him to Ann and a place in her heart? How will the situation between Eli and Ann be resolved? What about the man in the beaver hat and his relationship with her father? Will Ann ever find out the truth? Will Jacob Good ever get what's coming to him? These questions and many more are answered within the pages of this wonderful novel by Rosslyn Elliottt.

    I loved this book. There was a lot going on with the characters, lots of activity and emotion, and I really got to know them. My heart broke in places and sang in others. This book will make a wonderful gift for any reader, and book groups will enjoy discussing it. I received my free copy from the Litfuse Publicity Group (thanks Amy Lathrop!) and am blessed to be part of the blog tour!

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  • Posted September 14, 2011

    more from this reviewer

    Stayed up all night just so I could finish it and it was worth it!

    Ann Miller envisions her future suitor to be a man of nobility, the knight on the white horse who will come and sweep her off her feet. A man who can romance her and quote words of love to her. She has this detail so well scripted out in her life, she can only see one person to fill that role and that is Eli Bowen!

    Only Eli is four years older than Ann, and with her father's stern request that she waits til she is 18 to marry, she can't give him the answer to his proposal while she is only 15. Confident that Eli will wait for her, she tries to persuade her father, a traveling preacher/saddler to change his mind. He tells Ann the reason he wants her to wait is because her mother would have never married him if she fell in love with the first person she met. He wants to make sure whomever she chooses to marry it will be the right one.

    When Ann sees Eli at the local mercantile while she is picking up an order for her father, and he has already moved on to another young lady, Penelope. It breaks Ann's heart that even though she believed God was telling her that Eli was the one, apparently in his eyes, Ann isn't the one for him. Opening the barrel for her father, Ann discovers some papers at the bottom. What she discovers are handwritten letters from a mother dying of consumption to a son named Will. Feeling that these letters belong to a boy named Will, Ann sets out to return them to the owner.

    Luckily Ann's father has plans to go to Pittsburgh where the letters have arrived from, and she begs her father to go. She hopes she can reunite the letters with Will. Will Hanby is a saddle-maker's apprentice working for Jacob Good. He has agreed to become an indentured servant for Mr. Good for a period of 5 years, while he receives room and board and learns to be a saddler. Unfortunately what Will discovers is that being an indentured servant for the Good family is signing an agreement to become a slave, and a abused one at that.

    Jacob Good has a great thing going, convincing orphaned boys to sign up to be indentured apprentices, so that they can serve the needs of himself and his wife at any cost. He needs to make sure that in addition to Tom, whose been working for him for years, that Will learns what happens when things aren't done to his liking. Unfortunately for Will and Tom, their contract allows Mr. Good to treat them anyway he wants because they have agreed to do whatever he tells them to do.

    Will Ann find what she is looking for in Pittsburgh? Will she be able to help Will escape Mr. Good? Will Ann find that her definition for what God has planned for her is different than what she thought?

    In the latest novel, Fairer Than Morning by Rosslyn Elliot, the reader is taken into the early 1800's in Ohio at the time where slavery was still considered desirable by some. Not only are slaves still an issue but now residents of Pittsburgh, like Mr. Good have found a way around the slavery issue in hiring orphans and the poor under the premise of learning a trade and receiving free room and board. Unfortunately like Will's about to discovery, not everything in writing is a great as it sounds.

    I received this book compliments of Litfuse Publicity for my honest review and LOVED it. The storyline was one I hadn't heard of before with indentured servants in the early 1800's. 5 out of 5 stars and can't wait for the next book!

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  • Posted September 11, 2011

    I Also Recommend:

    Couldn't put it down!

    I started and finished this book within a few hours! It's 40-something chapters, and yet I couldn't believe how quickly I finished it! It's completely gripping and pulls you into the story before you even know it! I would give this book 1,000+ stars if I could! An absolute FAVORITE!

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  • Posted September 2, 2011

    Fairer Than Morning Review

    Fairer Than Morning by Rosslyn Elliott is the first book in The Saddler's Legacy series. It is not categorized as historical, but it should be, as it is somewhat based on the lives of some who lived during this period of history.

    The story begins in Rushville, Ohio on July 15th, 1823. Ann Miller, the daughter of a widowed circuit preacher and saddler, is being wooed by dashing Eli Bowen, son of a prominent family. Ann, although smitten, is not sure if she is ready to marry.

    Her father is commissioned to make a saddle for Master Good in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania. On the journey, the Miller's meet a family, owners of a southern plantation, looking for runaway slaves. Little do they know that the Miller's home is a stop on the Underground Railroad.

    While in Pittsburgh, Ann meets a young apprentice, Will Hanby, who is an indentured servant, working as a saddler at the cruel hand of Master Good. While compassionately helping tend to Will's wounds after a beating, Ann begins to have feelings for Will. When the Miller's return to Ohio, she wonders if she'll ever see Will again.

    This book was a Dickens like romance. Each chapter seemed to uncover another clue into the lives of these characters. The only negative I have is that in chapter 16, Will regrets a sexual experience he had in which the girl lost her virginity. It is clean in description, but in my opinion, was completely unnecessary to the plot of the story. Because of this, I would not recommend this book to young teens. If you enjoy Christian romance from a historical perspective, you'll enjoy reading this book.

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  • Posted August 19, 2011

    If you don't pick this one up, you WILL regret it!

    Fairer than Morning is a rare book, eloquently written, that effortlessly takes you back to another time and place. Reading this book was an absolute pleasure! It was written in such a way that all I wanted to do was sit back and soak in every word, not rushing through to find out what happens on the next page, but simply enjoying the one I was on. And that my friends, is rare.




    What I really enjoyed about this book was that it was based on a true story and true events, though some parts were added for a book better suited to fiction. It is not often that I find a book that I can just sit back and enjoy the gentle rhythm of without losing interest, but this book was magnetic!




    The characters were well rounded and engaging. My favorite character was Will, because he wasn't the perfect Prince Charming hero. He had weaknesses, but he also had a strongness of character about him, even if sometimes he made very poor choices. I also found Ann a very real character as well, she made he mistakes, but underneath everything she was a strong admirable character.




    I really enjoyed this book and I recommend this book highly! I cannot say how much I enjoyed it. This is not a book that you will want to miss. And I really hope you don't, because this is a book well worth reading! Thanks :)

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  • Posted August 10, 2011

    more from this reviewer

    A Gripping Tale

    Debut novelist Rosslyn Elliott is a gifted storyteller. She weaves a tale of characters beset by trial and hardship who, with the grace of God, overcome adversity and find lasting happiness. Will Hanby is one of the most sympathetic heroes I've encountered in a romance. He's not perfect, by any means, but I loved watching the transformation that takes place in his heart as he discovers a hope that transcends his present difficulties. Ann Miller is a likable heroine, one filled with compassion, who faces a series of tough decisions with wisdom unusual in one so young. Elliott does a great job with her secondary characters as well. Ann's father is a godly man whose faith is evident in all he says and does, whereas the villain, Mr. Good, is very, very bad. Set amidst the early days of the abolitionist movement, this historical masterpiece will reel a reader in and leave her hurriedly flipping pages as she seeks to find out what happens next. If you enjoy a gripping tale that tugs at your heart, I highly recommend Fairer Than Morning.

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  • Posted July 28, 2011

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    Great Historical Fiction!

    Fairer Than Morning is the first book in The Saddler's Legacy. From the book cover: "The Saddler's Legacy Series is a work of fiction inspired by a real family in American history - the Hanby family, who are to this day the most celebrated citizens of Westerville, Ohio."

    In 19th-century Ohio, Ann Miller is helping her widowed father raise her younger sisters. She's been courted for years by the "perfect" man, and is convinced God has brought them together. Then she meets Will, a saddler's apprentice, and starts to wonder if she's really doing what God wants her to do with her life. Meanwhile, Will has problems of his own.

    Some books are hard to review simply because I don't want to say too much and give away any of the story. Fairer Than Morning is one of those books. This is romance, but it's also about finding God, and obedience, forgiveness, and grace.

    There were some parts that made me want to hit certain characters over the head, but that just means I was involved in the story. :-) I'm looking forward to reading more in this series.

    I won this book in a Goodreads First Read giveaway.

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  • Posted July 22, 2011

    Loved it!

    Fairer Than Morning is the fictional account of two real-life families, the Hanby's and the Miller's. Will Hanby was indentured to a cruel master, Jacob Good, after his parents died from illness while he was just a boy. Ann Miller is the daughter of a saddler who has suffered loss of her own mother, and has become the caretaker of her two younger sisters. Yet God can restore them... and that He does as he not only frees Will, but calls him to free those who are enslaved just as he had been.

    This book is full of emotion and will keep you hooked until the very end. Rosslyn Elliot did a wonderful job of telling the fictional stories of these historical characters. I found myself getting angry not only at some of the characters, but at history itself. I was pulled in to the suffering of Will, the grief of Ann and the feelings of others around them. The picture was painted in vivid detail and I wanted so much to reach out to Will and his friend Tom. It was hard to read how one human being can treat another as property. Equally, it was a joy to read about those who followed God and honored Him in the way they valued every life. They sought to help others they way they themselves had received it. They offered grace, mercy, and forgiveness.

    I did not request this book for review. I won it in a drawing through the Goodreads website. I am not required or asked to review, I just loved the book and wanted to share it with you. Had I known how much I would enjoy it... I would have read it much sooner. :)

    Check it out. It is the first in the new series The Saddler's Legacy. I will be sure to follow this one. I think you will enjoy it too!... especially if you are a Historical Fiction fan!

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  • Posted July 8, 2011

    This book will be a best seller and win awards

    FAIRER THAN MORNING by Rosslyn Elliott

    As I read this book, I thought it ought to become a classic, and I won't be surprised if it is a best seller.
    I 've read hundreds of inspirational historical romances and I knew as I read Fair than Morning by the caliber of writing and the way the story unfolded, that Rosslyn Elliott is a superb writer and knows what she's doing.
    I marked some of her awesome descriptions as I observed the work of a wordsmith so I could enjoy them again.
    Yet, I didn't read her bio until I completed the book. Ms. Elliott earned her bachelor's degree in English and theater at Yale, and earned a PhD in English in 2006. She studied American literature and history. Perhaps that's why I felt as if I were there in the barn witnessing the beatings and following Ann everywhere.
    The novel reflects many historical facts, disturbing when we understand that indentured servants were "owned" for a season of time by cruel masters who abused them and lived wicked lives.
    Interesting that this book is titled "Fairer than Morning." The ending reminds me of sunshine after a dark night. The author is so good at complications I became frustrated at the tangles and wondered if the book is a tragedy and the ending would be a great disappointment. Joy does come in the morning in a wonderful way, and only a Christian can understand the miracles of healing of the body, mind, will and emotions that comes through submission to God and His Word-because they've experienced it. Not to the degree of these characters, perhaps, but we do know these things can happen and do happen. It's even more amazing when we discover many of the characters in this book actually lived in Ohio in the mid-nineteenth century.
    I recommend Fairer than Morning. It's a great book, although I was uncomfortable reading the details of the attempted rape because my entertainment is G-rated. In an unrelated episode (he wasn't the rapist), I was disappointed at Will's sin, but after he accepted Jesus, he wanted to make it right.
    The author did a superb job in handling these subjects, and bringing all the raveled parts together in the end and weaving it all into a masterpiece that will glorify God.
    Note: The author and Thomas Nelson provided me a review copy of this book.

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  • Posted May 7, 2011

    Historically Accurate Fiction: Recommended!

    Fairer Than Morning, by Rosslyn Elliot is a book based on a real family and their journey during the 19th century. I have always enjoyed the opportunity to read novels of Historical Fiction because I was never big on learning history. As my dad points out to me numerous times, I can learn a lot by reading a Historical novel, and I have.

    Rosslyn Elliot did a wonderful job displaying character emotions and building her characters up so that you felt for them every step of the way. I found the beginning of the book to be a bit slow to get in to, however, as the book began to climax my desire to get to the end to see what would happen between Will and Ann did not allow me to stop reading! Will Hanby, an apprentice, found his life to be truly difficult due in large part to his controlling and powerful master. Ann Miller, is of higher status yet works on a farm and cares for her younger sisters. Both prove to be hard workers and very passionate when it comes to friends and family. I found this story of love very refreshing.

    As this is the first book in the Saddler's Legacy, I look forward to reading more of these tales by Rosslyn Elliot.

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  • Posted May 6, 2011

    more from this reviewer

    Good book!

    This book is set in the 1800s and follows Ann Miller as she witnesses slavery, and what it means to be a young woman living during this time. After meeting Will Hanby she finds herself torn between two men.
    I actually liked this book more than I expected to. It reminded me of when I was into historical fiction a lot as a kid. The characters were all quite well developed, and the story threw in enough twists to keep you interested in reading throughout. The book was even surprisingly open about some of the choices the characters made, and the consequences they felt because of those choices. The moral dilemma the characters had to deal with was also a surprising element to the story. The characters seemed to reflect deeply about how they were affected by previous experiences.
    This book does contain a love story, but the build up seemed a little lacking. I felt like a little more chemistry could have been built througout the book between the two, but overall I anticipated the moment Ann would finally choose who she wanted to be with. There were a few slow scenes, but each scene seemed to add to the story. I have not researched accurately if this story is historically accurate, but the era it was based in fascinated me.
    This book was overall very interesting, and a good read. If you are looking for something that is Christian based, and explores a historical era then this book is for you.

    Disclosure of Material Connection: I received this book free from the publisher through the BookSneeze® book review bloggers program. I was not required to write a positive review. The opinions I have expressed are my own. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission's 16 CFR, Part 255 "Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising."

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  • Posted May 3, 2011

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    Wonderful Read!

    Set during Ohio in the 19th - century. Ann Miller was proposed to at the age fifteen by Eli Bowen, who comes from a prominent family. Ann's father said she was too young to be married and must wait until she turned eighteen years of age. Three years go by; Ann catches Eli eyeing another girl. She wonders if his heart has found someone else. She accompanies her father on a business trip to Pittsburgh, but her mind is on Eli.

    To her surprise, she meets a young man who will change her life. His name is Will Hanby, a saddle-maker's apprentice. His parents died when he was ten years old, and at six-teen his signed away his freedom for five years as a worker (more like a slave) to Master Good, who is cruel to the boy. By the time Will meets Ann Miller, his faith/spirit is broken. Ann feels a connection to Will and so does he. But Ann and her father are soon to leave for home and will is determined to follow her.

    Most of the historical fiction that I read is just 'fiction" set during the past. The main characters in Fairer than Morning are based on real people. The real William and Ann lived in Westerville, Ohio in the mid-nineteenth century and had eight children. The author has done a remarkable job telling the true tale of the couple, of course the author used her imagination to fill-in the gaps in the history. This is the first in a new series and I can't wait to read the sequel. I recommend this book to romance readers.

    *I would like to thank Thomas Nelson for sending me a copy to review!

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  • Anonymous

    Posted May 3, 2011

    Fairer Than Morning by Rosslyn Elliott

    Hi there! I recently god a new book from Booksneeze- "Fairer than Morning" by Rosslyn Elliot. Before I get started, I need to tell you that I received this book for free and I am under no obligation to give this a good review. Okay, now down to business. This book is based in the 19th century, mostly in Ohio although we see Pittsburgh in there too. Young Ann Miller is pursued by Eli Bowen, and they seem the perfect match. But when she goes to Pittsburgh with her father on business, Ann meets Will Hanby, a saddle-maker's apprentice. He falls in love with her, and decides to follow them back to Ohio. But if he ever makes it here, will Ann still be waiting for him? I'm not going to give the ending away, but I'll just say that I thourghly enjoyed this book and I loved the ending. This novel is loosley based on a real life story, so there is an air of genuity that seeps through the pages. I thourghly enjoyed this book, and for anyone who enjoys either historical novels and/ or romances. This is a really sweet book and I give it a five out of five stars!:)

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