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Sweeter than Birdsong

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Overview

Music offers Kate sweet refuge from her troubles . . . but real freedom is sweeter.

In Westerville, Ohio, 1855, Kate Winter’s dreams are almost within reach. As the first woman to graduate from Otterbein College, she’ll be guaranteed her deepest wish: escape from the dark secret haunting her family. But with her mother determined to marry her off to a wealthy man, Kate must face reality. She has to run. Now. And she has the perfect plan. Join ...

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Sweeter than Birdsong

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Overview

Music offers Kate sweet refuge from her troubles . . . but real freedom is sweeter.

In Westerville, Ohio, 1855, Kate Winter’s dreams are almost within reach. As the first woman to graduate from Otterbein College, she’ll be guaranteed her deepest wish: escape from the dark secret haunting her family. But with her mother determined to marry her off to a wealthy man, Kate must face reality. She has to run. Now. And she has the perfect plan. Join the upcoming musical performance—and use it to mask her flight.

Ben Hanby, Otterbein College’s musical genius, sees Kate Winter as an enigmatic creature, notable for her beauty, yet painfully shy. Then he hears her sing—and the glory of her voice moves him as never before. He determines to cast her in his musical and uncover the mystery that is Kate. Still, he must keep his own secret to himself. Not even this intriguing woman can know that his passionate faith is driving him to aid fugitives on the Underground Railroad.

A terrifying accident brings Kate and Ben together, but threatens to shatter both their secrets and their dreams. Kate can no longer deny the need to find her courage—and her voice—if she is to sing a new song for their future.

A stirring novel of hope and faith inspired by real events—from the author of Fairer than Morning, winner of the 2011 Laurel Award.

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Editorial Reviews

Publishers Weekly
Kate Winter’s dream of being one of the first women to graduate from Otterbein College in Westerville, Ohio, in 1855, is shattered when her fear of public speaking wreaks havoc. But even more than graduating, she dreams of fleeing the hidden brokenness of her family and starting anew. As she makes plans, Kate is drawn to fellow student and songwriter Ben Hanby, whose musicale offers her a chance to escape, but also opens her heart to a future she couldn’t foresee. The pair becomes embroiled in a daring slave rescue which not only brings them together but reveals to Kate the evils of slavery and the work of the Underground Railroad. Author Elliot (Fairer than Morning) creates a pleasing blend of fact and fiction in this second installment in the Saddler’s Legacy series. Hanby is best known for his song “Up on the Housetop,” and slave rescuer John Parker is a real figure large enough to seem legend. Readers will appreciate the well-told tale as well as its historical basis. Agent: Rachelle Gardner. (Feb.)
Library Journal
In 1855 Westerville, OH, Kate Winters is close to fulfilling her dream of becoming the first woman to graduate from Otterbein College. She is also determined to escape the marriage her mother has planned for her by using her performance in the college's forthcoming musical as a cover for her flight. But working closely with Ben Hanby, the show's director, soon has Kate helping Ben free slaves via the Underground Railroad. VERDICT Drawing on the life of 19th-century American composer Benjamin Hanby ("Darling Nelly Gray"; "Up on the House Top"), Elliott follows up her acclaimed debut, Fairer Than Morning, with another enchanting, inspirational tale that will connect with readers of Lauraine Snelling and Lori Wick.
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9781595547866
  • Publisher: Nelson, Thomas, Inc.
  • Publication date: 2/7/2012
  • Series: A Saddler's Legacy Novel Series , #2
  • Pages: 400
  • Sales rank: 980,141
  • Product dimensions: 5.40 (w) x 8.20 (h) x 0.70 (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

Sweeter than Birdsong

The Saddler's Legacy
By Rosslyn Elliott

Thomas Nelson

Copyright © 2012 Rosslyn Elliott
All right reserved.

ISBN: 978-1-59554-786-6


Chapter One

Westerville, Ohio 1855

Her customary walk across the college quadrangle had become an executioner's march. Kate's heeled shoes clunked over the flagstones. Her full skirt and horsehair crinoline dragged from her waist, too warm even for this mild May morning.

She climbed the stone steps of the whitewashed college building and laid hold of the black iron door handle with a clammy palm. The dim foyer led to the lecture hall. Her breath came faster and her corset squeezed her lungs—it had not felt so tight when the maid laced it an hour ago. Ahead loomed the dark rectangle of the hall's oaken door, which stood ajar.

At the threshold, she paused. A baritone voice lifted in clear, well-balanced phrases inside the hall. The speaker's persuasive power carried even here. Ben Hanby. He was the best orator in the class. She laid a hand to her midsection to quell the pulsing nausea there. If she did not go in now, she would not go in at all.

At her push, the door swung open to reveal rows of masculine shoulders in dark coats, all heads turned toward the speaker. Each gentleman's neat coattails fell open over his knees, black against the polished wood floor. Each white collar rose to the sweep of hair worn according to the current vogue, longer than a Roman's but never past the collar.

On the raised platform beyond them, Ben Hanby stood, as natural and poised as if he were alone in the room, his dark hair thick over his brow. His eyes were intent, his face alive with interest in his subject, but his words floated past Kate in a wash of sounds her jumping nerves could not interpret. Of course speaking came easily for him—his father was a minister.

He finished with a question to the audience, and even her disrupted attention caught the subtle humor in the lift of his eyebrow as he delivered his line straight-faced. A chuckle rose from the young men, echoed in the lighter laughter of the small party of young lady scholars seated with their chaperone on the end of the front row.

Ben Hanby descended the stairs, the barest smile appearing as he exchanged glances with his friends.

"Miss Winter." Professor Hayworth's bass rumbled across the hall.

Heads turned toward her. Her skin tingled in waves of heat, her heart kicked in an uneven cadence. Could it stop from such fright? The thought made it worsen, like a stutter in her chest that could not move on to the next beat.

"I am glad you choose to join us today." Professor Hayworth spoke to her from the dais beside the podium, full-bearded in his formal black robe. "You have arrived just in time to give the first of our ladies' speeches."

She avoided their curious stares as her pulse quickened and her mouth dried.

"Please proceed to the podium," he said.

She produced a bare nod and started down the aisle. Her skirt swept an arc so wide she had to brush against the wall to ensure it would clear the chairs.

The chairs scraped as the young men stood up. They always rose to acknowledge the entrance of young ladies into the hall. But to have them do it for Kate alone, to be the sole object of their interest—she had to fix her gaze on the far wall and its carved paneling as a chill rippled over her shoulders and spread, bringing a layer of cold perspiration after it. She must have blanched even whiter than her usual paleness, and moisture had settled on her upper lip, on her forehead. How ghastly she must look. They would all see her fear. A pain cramped her chest.

It seemed something terrible would happen if she stepped on that stage—the pain in her chest might spread into a full, searing arrest.

She turned the corner to the platform. Ben Hanby looked at her and gave an encouraging nod. The compassion in his brown eyes made it worse. Did he know that she was ill, that her tortured breathing threatened to constrict to nothing?

One foot at a time, only three yards to the podium. She stepped behind its flimsy refuge and gripped the raised lip of the stand with both shaking hands.

The room was silent—a horrible, waiting hush like the moment before a cat seizes a rodent. Into the silence came the pounding in her ears. The whole room pulsed to its beat—her mouth was so dry.

A score of faces turned toward her, expectant. Kate braced against the podium and pulled in one tremulous breath.

She looked over the students' heads, past their neat rows of coats and ties to the small cluster of women off to one side with their chaperone. Help me, help me, please. But the women could not hear her—did they not see she was not well?

The thrumming in her ears rose to a rushing like water.

The first words were "On the Purpose of Friendship: An Argument Drawn from Aristotle and Cicero." She would say the title, now, by opening her mouth.

A quiet rasp escaped her throat before it closed with a gulping sound.

Kate inhaled again and forced it out. "On the Pur—" Her throat clutched once more.

Professor Hayworth was only a dim figure in her peripheral vision. Now her lips and tongue would not work at all. Her will had brought her this far, but her voice would not obey her.

Kate released the podium and stepped back on wobbly legs.

She turned and fled, down the steps of the platform, past the blur of young men, out the door of the recital hall, through the hallway, out to the free air where no one was watching. Her heels caught at the light green lawn. Where should she go so no one could find her?

She hurried around the white-planked corner of the building. She must hide herself behind the bulge of the chimney, for someone might come in pursuit, and she did not wish to speak. Too late for words to be of any use.

In the safety of the corner where chimney met wood, she leaned against the cool brick, heaving for breath through her tight throat, wheezing as barely any air came through. She had not died, but her heart still beat erratically, a pain with every skipped beat. She must slow down her panicked breathing; she was light-headed. The sides of her bodice were soaked through.

Now they would send her away. No one could remain at university without giving orations. She had failed herself and disgraced the small band of young women who had been permitted to enroll at Otterbein.

More cramps seized her chest and abdomen, burning, pinching.

Her dream of graduating from college and leaving Westerville was over.

Chapter Two

When a young man had seven younger siblings, it was only natural that one of them would be a pox on his very existence. Ben supposed he should count his blessings that the other six brought him such joy. But none of the joys had come to the general store today—only Cyrus, the pox himself.

"Do you suppose the college will ask Miss Winter to leave?" Cyrus asked. He picked up a new hat from its box and adjusted it with care over his wild mass of light brown curls. "Rather a scene she made in class yesterday."

"A gentleman would not speculate on her situation." Ben picked up a sheet of music and did his best to ignore Cyrus. As his eyes followed the black lines of notes across the staff, he hummed the melody under his breath.

"It would be a shame to lose such a beauty from the college," Cyrus murmured. "With hair and eyes such as hers, who needs a voice?" Cyrus adjusted the hat to a sharp angle over his brow and gave himself a burning stare in the small looking glass on the wall.

The effect of his seventeen-year-old playacting was not as impressive as he imagined. Ben suppressed his dry comment.

Their father was holding a list of supplies up to the light. "And cinnamon, and ten pounds of flour," he read aloud to Mr. Bogler, the store owner.

"How's your trade in harnesses been, Mr. Hanby?" Mr. Bogler lifted a flour sack to the counter.

"Brisk of late," Ben's father said. The gray streaks in his dark hair did not detract from his still-vigorous appearance—in his midforties, he could keep pace with men a decade younger. "The railroad has helped. What's good for Columbus is good for Westerville."

He folded the shopping list and glanced at Ben. "Are you finished, son?"

"Yes, sir." Ben kept hold of the sheet music and walked to the front, fishing in his pocket for coins. He would pay for it himself—his father had enough mouths to feed, and Ben's seasonal work as a schoolmaster paid for his Otterbein tuition and any small luxuries like music.

A man shouted outside, then another. His father stiffened, and Ben followed his gaze outside through the checkered panes of the wide store window.

A small group of black men shuffled down the street, their shoulders hunched. Chains linked their ankles through iron cuffs so heavy they would grind away flesh within a mile's walk. And from the mud-streaked, bare feet of the slaves, it was clear they had come more than a mile. Behind them strode four white men in broad-brimmed, dusty hats and travel-worn clothing. One propped a long whip over his shoulder as if it were a fishing pole while two others dogged the heels of the slaves. One yelled for them to hurry it up, and the other laughed and shoved the hindmost prisoner forward. He stumbled into the slave ahead, weaved and staggered, then tripped on the chain and fell prone in the dirt. The bounty hunter kicked the fallen man in the belly, hard, again, and he doubled up in pain. Ben's gut clenched in sympathy.

With three swift steps he made it to the door and grasped the handle.

"Ben." His father's call carried a command.

Ben paused, struggled to unknot his clenched fingers—it was too much, he could not tolerate it. He turned his head. "Must we stand here and do nothing?"

"Yes. I'm sorry, son. We've spoken about this before." His father's deep-set eyes said more, reminded him that they could not discuss such things in public.

The smug expression on the bounty hunter's face made Ben want to slam his fist against the door. "But they're taking them right down State Street. Throwing it in our faces."

"It's the law, Ben. That's enough." Beneath his words lay a warning.

Ben gritted his teeth and walked back to the counter. He grasped the flour sack in one hand, stuffed the sheet music under his arm, and snatched his hat from the courtesy peg on the wall. He jerked the door open and stormed out, gaze averted from the spectacle in the street. Cyrus would have to help his father carry the rest. If Ben saw any more, he could not answer for his actions, law or no law.

Chapter Three

The dimness of the hall outside the president's office did not soften the rigid face of Kate's mother. Her tight mouth and narrowed eyes augured ill for what might happen once she and Kate returned to the cold formality of the house behind the gate.

Kate sat on the edge of her chair and kept her posture as perfect as the young ladies had been taught. It was habit. She would not win her mother's approval through proper deportment, especially not after the debacle of the oration day.

Professor Hayworth opened the door and stepped back. "Ladies, if you would be so kind as to join us." The effort behind his genial tone made it all the more ominous.

Her mother glided past her and onto the dark red carpet with its pattern of blue looping vines. President Lawrence had risen to greet them at his desk. After Kate and her mother seated themselves in the two velvet wing chairs, the president and Professor Hayworth resumed their own seats behind the wide, ebony expanse of the desk.

"Mrs. Winter, thank you for accompanying your daughter this morning," President Lawrence said.

Her mother nodded without reply.

The college president, Mr. Lawrence, had a kind, open face, clean shaven to reveal ruddy health across his cheekbones. His eyelids drooped at the edges with the onset of middle age, but his eyes were bright. He wore the traditional light black robe over his navy waistcoat and tie. The president took a piece of paper from the drawer below him and laid it on the desk, a lone ivory island in the sea of black. He stared down at it for a moment. "I trust you are aware, Mrs. Winter, that your daughter has a delicate sensibility. It prevented her from giving an oration before her classmates. And orations are required for the completion of an Otterbein degree."

"Yes." Her mother pressed her lips into a line.

The sharp smell of the freshly painted walls turned Kate's stomach. If they wished to be merciful, they would do it quickly and without ceremony.

Professor Hayworth perused a sheaf of papers he held in his hands. "You may also be aware, madam, that your daughter is one of our most gifted students."

Her mother's lips twitched but she said nothing, still as a plaster bust beneath her architectural twists and coils of black hair. What had she almost said? Certainly nothing complimentary.

"She is at the top of her class in Latin and Greek, as well as mathematics," the professor added.

Mr. Lawrence leaned forward, interlacing his knuckles on the desk's smooth surface. "Because of her prodigious gifts, we are unwilling to dismiss her at this time. Oration is not as vital for a young lady as it would be for a gentleman."

She must have misheard. They were not going to dismiss her?

"However, we cannot simply ignore the requirements of Otterbein College," Professor Hayworth said. "And so we wish to give you more time, Miss Winter. After the new year—in eight month's time—you must be able to deliver an oration to the entire class. Until then, you may present your assigned recitation to me, in the company of the ladies' chaperone."

"Do you wish to continue under these conditions?" President Lawrence asked.

Kate murmured, "Yes, sir."

"Very good." The president sat back in his chair as if released from a string. Professor Hayworth looked relieved, though his bushy brown beard made it hard to tell for certain.

"Thank you, President Lawrence." Her mother rose to her feet, a silvery beaded handbag dangling from her wrist against the lilac silk of her dress. She had dressed as if to meet in the Oval Office with President Pierce himself, not with the president of a small college. The gentlemen rose with her and Kate followed suit, stepping forward to allow her skirt its room.

"Kate, you will wish to thank them as well, I am sure." Kate's mother flashed her a steel-blue look, then assumed a milder aspect to the men.

Kate lifted her head. "I am grateful to you, sirs." Her answer was too soft, she knew—they would hardly hear her, and her mother would take her to task for it later. Her words slipped out, artificial, manufactured by her mother's will, not her own. Perhaps they thought they were kind, but a summer and a semester would make no difference. She had done her best to speak, but her body had refused her will. The faculty's stipulation would not change her weakness. It was simply a stay of execution.

"You have great promise, Miss Winter," said Professor Hayworth. "We wish you to fulfill it."

Her mother clutched her silver handbag in one tight fist. "Thank you, Professor. Good day, gentlemen." She inclined her head and swept out the door in a puff of powdery lavender scent.

Kate followed her down the hall. The tightness of her dressed hair pulled into a dull ache at her temples. She could not bear to go back through their iron-gated yard into the Winter residence, but she had no other place to live.

* * *

As soon as their maid Tessie let them in the front door, Kate's mother sailed across the foyer and threw an order over her lilac shoulder. "Come to the parlor."

Kate avoided Tessie's sympathetic look as she trailed in her mother's wake through the double doors. She had never liked the parlor's blue-and-white formality, punctuated by spiny-legged chairs and hard upholstery.

Her mother rounded on her, and Kate suppressed a start.

"I suppose we must count our blessings that President Lawrence is so magnanimous." Dry, papery-fine skin pulled into deep grooves around her tight mouth.

"Yes, Mother." If Kate did not argue, it would end sooner.

Her mother peered at her. "Clearly, you have a brain somewhere in your head. You do well enough in your studies. So why do you stumble over a simple declamation?"

"I don't know." Resentment pricked deep beneath her meek response like a burr under a saddle.

"And you won't speak to the few eligible suitors I have brought to you."

(Continues...)



Excerpted from Sweeter than Birdsong by Rosslyn Elliott Copyright © 2012 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

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Sort by: Showing all of 14 Customer Reviews
  • Posted April 24, 2012

    What a delight to return to Westerville, Ohio and the Hanby fami

    What a delight to return to Westerville, Ohio and the Hanby family! I enjoyed revisiting Will and Ann, and meeting their children. The Hanbys' passion for helping escaped slaves has continued to the next generation, especially Ben. As a student at Otterbein College, Ben met Kate Winter. Kate was so shy, conversation was limited to one-word answers and giving a speech was impossible. Sweeter Than Birdsong is the story of Kate's struggle to overcome her fear. Along the way, she grows in understanding her mother and she joins Ben's family in their work on the Underground Railroad. The ending is so perfect for both Ben and Kate, it brought me to tears!

    My highest recommendation!

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted April 18, 2012

    Highly recommended

    This was a great book I really enjoyed this book

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  • Anonymous

    Posted March 2, 2012

    Do I have to put the book down? Do I hafta? Huh? I felt that

    Do I have to put the book down? Do I hafta? Huh? I felt that way all through the book. I found myself drawn into the pre-Civil War drama of pro-slavery and abolitionist tensions. The tensions within the heroine and her problems with her family rang true to the times. A rich, handsome suitor and a young music scholar with a secret vy for Kate Winter's affections. Who will she choose? Will she overcome her fears? Will Ben Hanby follow his convictions or lose them? So many questions and story lines are expertly interwoven in this enchanting book. I really enjoyed this book, so much so that I didn't read some of the other books that I should have been reading. ~grin~ This was another stay up late and read another chapter sort of book...and then another...then maybe just one more!

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  • Posted February 29, 2012

    more from this reviewer

    Lovely Book.

    Sweeter Than Birdsong
    by Rosslyn Elliott


    The journey through Sweeter Than Birdsong begins at a slow pace, then picks up speed and takes you on a ride that makes you almost forget you journeyed through almost 400 pages.

    Kate Winters is a bright young woman studying at Otterbein College. She is painfully shy, and deathly afraid of speaking in front of people, but has a heavenly voice that captures attention.

    Ben Hanby, expected by his parents to become a minister, has his own passions—music and assisting fugitives (especially one in particular) on the Underground Railroad.
    The two of them are first brought together by their mutual love for music, but it grows to something more. Though they struggle with what others want for them, they want to follow God’s plan and ultimately take the path of self-discovery. On their quest to help others, they find themselves.

    The author’s descriptions of each character, their plight, those fighting for freedom, and the infamous Underground Railroad, are so vivid you feel like you are there.

    <i>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 options I have expressed are my own. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commision’s 16 CFR, Part 255</i>

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  • Posted February 27, 2012

    more from this reviewer

    EXCITING!!

    SWEETER THAN BIRDSONG by Rosslyn Elliott is an exciting inspirational historical roman set in 1855 Westerville, Ohio. This is the second in “The Saddler’s Legacy”,but can be read as a stand alone. See ” Fairner Than Morning”. The characters will not only capture your heart in this wonderful story but will leave you in awe as you read the story of Kate Winter and Ben Hanby. This author has brought a by-gone era into focus with her vivid descriptions of the Underground Railroad,the people involved,the challenges of those people,their secrets,romance,and their freedom.”Sweeter Than Birdsong” is a complex,compelling story with dark secrets and faith. Another must read. While, “Sweeter Than Birdsong” is a bit slow to start it picks up the pace quickly and carries you away with the characters,era,music,and place of refuge. A great read for anyone who enjoys historical,Americana,the Underground Railroad,romance,and inspirational. Received for an honest review from Litfuse Publicity Group and the publisher. Details can be found at Thomas Nelson,the author’s website, and My Book Addiction and More/My Book Addiction Reviews.

    RATING: 4

    HEAT RATING: SWEET

    REVIEWED BY: AprilR,My Book Addiction and More/My Book Addiction Reviews

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  • Posted February 24, 2012

    more from this reviewer

    A Stunning Novel that Grips the Heart and Imagination!

    Sweeter Than Birdsong is a novel that not only contains a fascinating story, but a subject that will grip the hearts of those who read it.

    This is the first novel I've ever read by Rosslyn Elliott, and I have to say, she's probably just become one of my favorite writers. Aside from excellent writing, she's taken a story that is based on real-life people, and woven it into a tale that will hold readers captive--which is not easy with true stories.

    Rosslyn Elliott takes names found on the dusty pages of history books and breaths life back into them, forever inscribing their names into the hearts and minds her readers. I can now add a few more names to my People I admire list.

    This story is so rich in historical detail that I felt like I had been transported back in time.

    Not only is it rich in detail, but the subjects of slavery and women's rights are delt with in such a way that it's not overbearing, but enough to make a profound impact on the reader. I've been raised in the south, where people have always tried to justify slavery. Between the modern abolition movement taking place today and reading this book, I've come to realize there is never, ever any justification of any type of slavery. This book words it in such a way that it exposes the greed behind the slavery that took place.

    It's amazing how every element in this story comes together to create a flawless experience for the reader.

    Any review I write will probably do this book injustice. All I can say is that you need to read Sweeter Than Birdsong for yourself.

    I received a complimentary copy of this novel from Litfuse Publicity and Thomas Nelson in exchange for an honest review.

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  • Posted February 19, 2012

    more from this reviewer

    Easy To relate to

    I had received Sweeter than a birdsong from Booksneeze to read and write a review on about my own thoughts and opinions.

    I did not know that this book was in a series till I had received it. Boy do I wish I had known that before I had made the decision to read this book. That being said, reading this book, I am very pleased with the story line. It is so good that I had a hard time putting the book down.

    Kate Winter is a young 18-year-old living in the 1850's with her mother. Her mother unfortunately controls her, which leaves Kate with no freedom to do what she wants in life. I was able to relate to Kate strive for freedom. My mother is also over controlling. I felt what Kate is feeling in that I felt that both Kate and I feel like we cannot be ourselves. I know her mom's and my mom's intentions are to be the best for us, but it gets out of hand sometimes to the point where we can't be ourselves and have the freedom to date whoever we want that we want to move out ASAP. Kate ends up going off to live with a family in Westerville and ends up dealing with slaves.

    I fully enjoyed reading this book and I highly recommend this to anyone who likes historical fiction.

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  • Posted February 16, 2012

    Sweeter Than Birdsong

    Sweeter Than Birdsong is not your typical historical romance, and if you think that this story is slow-moving, then you are wrong. One thing I love about this story is that there’s so many message embedded in it in a very subtle way.

    The author’s description of theera in the story is so real and vivid that I can’t help but feel drawn to it.

    A wonderful read, and definitely going to be in my reading list for a long, long time. I rate this book 4 out of 5 stars.

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  • Posted February 15, 2012

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    History Comes Alive

    I was excited to take part in this Litfuse Blog Tour after reading Rosslyn Elliot's first book in the Saddler Legacy. This time the focus is on the son of the couple from book one along with a young lady he attends college with. I love how Elliot took names and facts from history to weave into her story. It makes it come alive, breathing life into what could just be boring, dusty facts. I was struck by what it must have been like to be among the first women who were able to attend college, albeit with chaperones and all sorts of rules of conduct, but to be able to attend and take part. At the same time what was it like to be alive during the time that slavery was a big part of how the south was run. How did those in the north really see slavery? How did they feel about it? Was it was to process when you were in the middle of it? How will we view events we are living through now when we have the vantage point of history on your side? I was able to empathize with Kate and the trouble she had speaking in public and voicing her true feelings. Not that I am paralyzed with shyness, but public speaking always makes me feel a bit sick to my stomach and panicky. It is hard to stand up for what you know is right and even harder when you feel shy and unsure of yourself. This book makes human and real the time period before the civil war, as well as the underground railroad and the abolitionist movement.

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  • Posted February 10, 2012

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    Freedom is Sweeter Than Birdsong!

    I loved this book! It will break your heart reading about pain and sorrow people went through fleeing and fighting for freedom. This book gives us a look at the underground railroad from the heart and eyes of a two young college students who want more than anything to make a difference in this world. Kate Winters is very shy and withdrawn. But Ben Hanby, musician and song writer, sees much more in this young woman. He tries bringing her out of her shell and into a world she was unaware. Which happened to be reality. As Kate is pulled from her cocoon she was forced into, by an over bearing mother and drunkard father, her world explodes into a world of adventure and grave danger. This part of her new life she tries to hide from her mother but knows she must honor her parents and tell them the truth she encountered while on an outing with Ben Hanby's mother.

    This historical fiction has adventure, suspense, love, faith, hope and redemption.

    This is the second in the series of Sadler's Legacy and Ben Hanby's mother and father were the heroine and hero of the first book in this series.

    I highly recommend this book.

    I rate this book a 5 out of 5.

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  • Posted February 5, 2012

    Live To Read

    Kate is not a woman who gives in to her family's demands for marriage. She has recently graduated from college and is very proud of her hard work and degree. In order to achieve her dreams, she must decide whether she should run from her family and try her own luck or stay and marry at a young age. The reader will be rooting for Kate throughout the book.


    Kate's character was likable and easy to connect to. The reader will enjoy her passion for learning and success, she isn't cut from the same cloth as many women of that time period. The love interest, Ben, will capture the readers' heart as well as Kate's. He is intelligent, quiet, and very musical. He notices Kate very early on in the novel and their relationship will proceed on a sweet note. The other characters can be fun to get to know, but many will leave the reader with a myriad of different reactions.


    The plot is fast-paced; the author has a very fluid and clean way of writing that contains no awkward transitions or bad sentence structure. The reader will find the plot and events easy to understand and follow, there should be no confusion. This book is recommended to adult readers.

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  • Posted January 30, 2012

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    A great read!

    I always find it fascinating to read novels that are inspired by real families, and the Hanby's are still one of the most celebrated families of Westerville, Ohio.

    I was immediately drawn into the story of Kate ... her alcoholic and abusive father, her controlling mother, and her rather shallow younger sister. Kate had almost crippling insecurities and yet nothing would hold her back from finding her own freedom and personal happiness, even if it means leaving everything behind.

    Ben Hanby was a musical protege at the same college that Kate attended, and their paths would continue to cross both academically and socially in the community. Ben became involved in situations that some would label as heroic, while others would have not hesitate to have him arrested.

    Much of this story revolves around the topic of slavery, and the Hanby family was very involved in the Underground Railroad. I especially enjoyed the notes included in the "afterward" which documents the true history of Ben and Kate Hanby.

    I highly recommend both books in The Saddler's Legacy series.

    Book received courtesy of Book Sneeze in exchange for my honest review.

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  • Posted January 28, 2012

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    WOnderful book

    Kate Winter has to learn how to talk in front of audiences if she is ever going to speak up against slavery. That will be hard to do with her socialite mother always trying to find her a husband of great wealth.
    Ben Hanby wants to end slavery, and while he knows he can't do it single handedly, he hates the evil practice with his entire being.

    When forced together by unforeseen circumstances, Ben and Kate make a great team. Unfortunately, tragedy strikes, and they will be forced to make decisions that change the future of those in their care.

    What I liked: Everything. I honestly think this may be the best historical fiction book I have ever read. And that is saying a lot. I love it when historical fiction is based on a real family. This book certainly delivered more than I could have hoped or dreamed. It was SO accurately described, and I felt almost as if I was in the pre-Civil War era myself.
    Another thing. I love historical fiction, but I have noticed that almost all historical fiction, even Christian ( I rarely read secular historical fiction) is fairly romantic. This book, while it did focus on the love story between Ben and Kate, was completely pure. And I scarcely am able to say that about books. Now, I never read fiction that I feel crosses the line of innocence, but this book made me so happy to see that there are still authors who write about chivalry and femininity so beautifully. In this book, there was not a hint of impurity, and I loved that. This book was wonderfully innocent, I feel as though my six year old sister could listen to it unscathed.
    {Just a note to my readers, I will shut a book if I feel it has crossed a line of impurity, such as lustful thoughts or actions uncorrected. This is another reason I like Historical fiction. Because of the manners of the day, sexual content in Christian Historical fiction rarely goes beyond a kiss, which is why I read it. If it goes farther, I will unhesitatingly slam the book shut!}
    Adding onto the above paragraph, I ADORED the use of 19th century manners. I literally was floored at how much more innocent their culture was than ours. She would feel ashamed to go on a {very short} buggy ride alone with a male under nightfall. Sounds good to me.


    I disliked: Nothing about the book. Nothing.



    Overall: Buy this book. Now. You should already be buying it. Why are you still reading this?
    You will be guaranteed to get your money's worth if you buy this book! I LOVED it!

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  • Posted January 27, 2012

    A Bitter Sweet Sensation

    Love is in the air. Yup! February is just around the corner and this is just THE book to fills the air with romance. Don't blame me as I am really partial towards historical romance. They are just so refined.

    This book is no exception. I love the way the author tease the readers and let the readers' imagination runs with her hints here about Ben and Kate.

    However, this book is much more than your typical romance. It incorporated some issue that is pretty interesting such as slavery.
    It was really easy to bond with the characters. The book is full of excitement and very moving.

    I won't the ending for you but I think it is safe to say that by the end of the story, you can't help to thinking that this might have been an actual history instead of fiction. It is because the story was pretty vivid.

    For me, this book rated 4 stars out of 5 stars

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