Brought together by a charming bookstore in England, three women fight to defy expectations, dream new dreams, and welcome love into their lives.
As a counselor, Sophia Barrett is trained to help people cope with their burdens. But when she meets a new patient whose troubles mirror her own, she realizes she hasn’t dealt with the pain of her recent past. After making a snap decision to get away for the summer, Sophia moves overseas to an apartment above a charming bookstore in Cornwall, England. She is hopeful she will find peace there surrounded by her favorite thing: great literature.
Bookstore owner Ginny Rose is desperate to save her business without asking for help from a husband who’s decided to take a break from their marriage. Ginny never imagined she’d be solely responsible for keeping afloat her husband’s dream, but the unexpected friendship with her new renter has her feeling more optimistic. Between the two of them—and Ginny’s brother-in-law, William—the bookstore might stand a chance.
Then Sophia finds a notebook in the bookstore that contains journal entries from Emily Fairfax, a governess who lived in Cornwall more than 150 years ago. Sophia learns that Emily harbored a secret passion for becoming an authoress—as well as a deep love for her childhood friend, Edward, whose station she dared not dream to touch.
Eager to know more of Emily’s story, Sophia goes on a quest—dragging Ginny and William with her—to discover the heart of the woman behind the beautiful entries. Soon Ginny’s need to save the bookstore becomes more than a way to save her marriage, and Sophia finds new purpose of her own. Together they find that sometimes both heartache and hope can reach across the centuries.
|Publisher:||Nelson, Thomas, Inc.|
|Sold by:||HarperCollins Publishing|
|File size:||2 MB|
About the Author
Lindsay Harrel is a lifelong book nerd who lives in Arizona with her young family and two golden retrievers in serious need of training. She’s held a variety of writing and editing jobs over the years and now juggles stay-at-home mommyhood with writing novels. When she’s not writing or chasing after her children, Lindsay enjoys making a fool of herself at Zumba, curling up with anything by Jane Austen, and savoring sour candy one piece at a time. Connect with her at LindsayHarrel.com.
Read an Excerpt
When life was busy, three months had a way of flurrying by.
But Sophia Barrett's last ninety-two days had passed in a drizzle of constant monotony. She'd spent them curled up napping on her leather couch, reading well-worn novels, and sitting in a slew of therapy sessions.
Thank goodness today was day ninety-three and she was finally standing in front of her office. She straightened her freshly pressed blazer, adjusted the strap of her laptop bag across her shoulder, and blew out a breath. At long last, a return to normalcy. Her trembling hand pulled on the large black door to Suite 608 and swung it open.
Sophia walked through the door and did her best to pretend like she was still the strong, confident woman whose mission in life was to help others through their pain.
The waiting room smelled like lavender as always, the view of downtown Phoenix from the window behind the secretary's desk remained unchanged, and the wall fountain to her right still had a way of soothing her nerves.
But something about being here felt different. Maybe it was simply Sophia who had changed.
Kristin's head popped up from the large, oak secretary desk. "You're back!" The intern unhooked her headset and rushed from behind the desk, throwing her arms around Sophia. "We've all missed you."
"I've missed being here." Sophia released a breath she didn't know she'd been holding.
"You chopped your hair!" Kristin tilted her head and chewed her gum as she studied Sophia. "I love it."
"Thanks." Sophia reached up to tug at the shorter strands, which now barely reached her shoulders. David had always liked her hair long. "It was time for a change."
Kristin's smile turned sympathetic. She squeezed Sophia's shoulder. "Good to have you back. I know Dr. Beckman has been going crazy without you."
"I'm sure Joy has survived just fine."
"No, Joy has not. But that's beside the point."
Sophia turned to find her best friend standing in the hallway, hands on her hips. Joy Beckman stood at barely five feet tall, but what she lacked in height, she made up for in personality. From her blonde pixie haircut to her outlandish jewelry and bright-colored clothing, no one could accuse Joy of not being her own person. Sophia, on the other hand, was much more comfortable in her black pants and cream-colored blouse, perfectly content to not stand out.
But despite their differences and the nearly ten-year age gap between them, Joy was more friend and pseudo big sister to Sophia than a boss.
"Hey." Sophia leaned down to hug Joy. "It's not like it was my idea to sit at home for the last three months. You're the one who banished me."
Joy rolled her eyes. "Come on. I'll brief you on your schedule for today." The phone rang. "Kristin, can you get that, please?"
"Of course." Kristin scrambled back behind the desk and slid her headset on. "LifeSong Women's Counseling. How can I help you?"
Sophia followed Joy down the short hallway into her friend's office. She picked a photo off Joy's cluttered desk. "You got new pictures done." In the photo, a jubilant Joy sat surrounded by five dogs.
"I couldn't very well have a photo without Lion. He'd be offended." Joy took the photo from Sophia's hands and glanced at it briefly, a small smirk playing at the corner of her lips.
"Lion is a tiny, nine-year-old dog with one eye that you rescued in his old age. I think it would take a lot to offend him." Sophia plopped into the seat opposite Joy, who slid into the office chair behind her desk. "So, do you have any appointments scheduled for me today? I wasn't sure whether you decided to transition my former clients back to me or keep them with Veronica." Though she'd seen her outside the office several times a week, Joy had always refused to discuss work, believing it would only stress Sophia out more to know what she was missing.
Joy searched the piles of paper on her desk and finally pulled a piece loose. "Here. I sent this via e-mail but thought we could chat briefly before you got all settled in."
Sophia took the paper from Joy's hand and studied it. She raised an eyebrow. "There's only one name on this list."
"You should start slow." Her friend worried her bottom lip. "I'm still not sure you should be here. Three months isn't that long."
"Three months is plenty long. I was wasting away on that couch and you know it." Sophia tried hard to keep the accusation from her tone, but it slipped in anyway.
"Nobody said you had to spend the three months twiddling your thumbs."
"I didn't." At Joy's pointed look, Sophia huffed. "Okay, fine. I guess I did. A little." At first, it'd been so hard to deal with the fact that she'd had a mental breakdown — in the grocery store of all places — on the first anniversary of David's death. Somehow she'd managed to hold it together for a year — denial was a many-faceted beast — and seeing the expensive brand of protein powder he had liked on the clearance shelf had just set her off.
How embarrassing to think back to the way she had taken every single container, unscrewed the lids, and dumped the contents onto the floor, not stopping until she was sobbing in a pile of powder and empty tubs.
Needless to say, she hadn't been back to that particular grocery store, even though she'd apologized profusely and paid for the mess she'd created.
After that, facing anyone other than Mom, Joy, and Cindy — the therapist who had walked Sophia through the worst of it — had been too difficult. It had seemed easiest to bury her nose in her favorite books and just grin and bear her sentence as quickly as possible: three months' paid leave from work.
Most people would find that sentence glorious. But most weren't trying to forget a dead fiancé and all the complicated feelings his death still raised in her, now more than a year after a car accident had taken him from this life into the next.
"I'm not judging you. I'm just concerned. You know that. David did a number on you. And when he died, you stuffed all your feelings away and tried your best to pretend his death didn't affect you."
Right. The very opposite of what she'd learned in six years of school for counseling and countless practicum hours. "I know all of that. But going to therapy with Cindy was just the thing I needed to get past it all. I'm better now."
Well, she would be, once she relearned how to stand on her own two feet.
And part of that meant facing the world again. "I need this." Sophia gestured around the room. "To return to something familiar. To keep busy." To help other people. Mom always said that was the best way to get out of your own head — and Sophia was so tired of being in hers.
Joy rubbed her forehead. Clearly she wasn't finished, despite all the protests she'd already laid in the weeks leading up to today. "I'm just afraid that being here will trigger —"
"I do appreciate your concern, Joy. I do. But please. Just trust me." Sophia stood and straightened her shoulders. "Now, it looks like my client will be here at nine, so I need to get to my office and prep." She walked toward the door and turned. "Goodness knows I wouldn't have survived without you. But I'm ready. I can do this."
Joy's smile appeared forced. "Okay."
Sophia stepped across the hall and rummaged through her bag for her keys. She unlocked the door and flicked on the fluorescent lights. The air smelled stale, tinged with disuse and the remnants in her apple-and-spice diffuser. Someone had cleared her desktop of any paper. Sophia slid into her chair and fired up her computer for the first time in months.
Her eyes roamed the office as she waited for her e-mail program to load. In the corner sat the most comfortable couch she'd ever had. Pride pricked her chest as she studied her master's degree and the certification that named her Sophia Barrett, Licensed Professional Counselor in the state of Arizona. No matter what happened, no one could take that away from her.
Finally, Sophia reached across her desk and snatched the photo frame that had sat there ever since she'd started working here half a decade ago. At first, the picture inside the frame was a family photo — just her and Mom. Then a few years ago, she'd traded it for an engagement photo — only four months after she'd met David.
The picture in the frame showed Sophia on his back, her long, black hair flowing down her shoulders, pale blue eyes trusting and full of love, her arms wrapped around his neck with his grasped under her knees, a tangle of love and obsession that had grown since that first time she'd seen him at the coffee shop and he'd actually noticed her somehow.
His brown eyes stared at her from the photo. They'd always called to her as if he was a Siren and she Odysseus. His easy smile and thick hair had given him a Patrick Dempsey air, and his impeccable taste in clothing had spoken of the wealth he'd grown up knowing.
She'd fallen head over black Payless flats. Plain-Jane Sophia Barrett had landed a prince, a man all the women wanted.
A prince on the outside, anyway. The inside was another matter entirely.
Sophia opened a desk drawer and stuffed the photo inside. There. Progress.
She worked through a slew of e-mails until Kristin buzzed her office, informing Sophia of her client's arrival.
Ugh, she hated the first-day jitters that flew through her whole being. But surely they'd go away once she set aside her own emotions and focused on someone else.
With a deep breath, Sophia rose and headed to the waiting room. "Patty Smith?"
A mousy woman who looked to be in her late thirties stood, her shoulders stooped and brown hair hanging limp in her face. "Here." Her voice squeaked.
Sophia extended her hand. "It's a pleasure to meet you. I'm Sophia Barrett."
The woman avoided her gaze, but shook her hand and murmured a return greeting.
Sophia led her back to her office and gestured to the couch. "Please, have a seat."
Patty did as she asked, sitting on the very edge of the couch. Her build was difficult to determine thanks to the oversized sweater she wore. In Phoenix. In late May. Her sneakered feet tapped against the carpeted floor in quick succession.
Sophia's heart squeezed. "Patty, I like to record my sessions so I can take fewer notes when I'm with you." She made sure her voice was soft, as if soothing a child, but without patronization. "Would that be all right?"
Patty's eyes darted upward. "I don't want anyone knowing I was here."
The way she said "anyone" sent a chill up Sophia's spine. And suddenly, her behavior made sense. Why she was here made sense.
Had Joy known when she'd given Sophia this client? Her friend wasn't that cruel, was she? But perhaps she was testing Sophia, making sure she was really as ready as she'd claimed.
"No one but me will ever listen to these tapes. I promise." The words stuck in her throat.
Patty tugged at one of her long sleeves. "I guess so."
"Great." Sophia clicked Record on her device. "Now, why don't we start by simply getting to know each other? I'm Sophia and I've been a licensed professional counselor for eight years, working here at LifeSong for the last five. I have a cat named Gigi, I love taking walks in the park when it's not a thousand degrees outside, and I simply adore British literature. How about you?"
The woman blew out a breath. A series of emotions flew across her features, finally settling on determination. "I'm Patty. I've been married to Jack for eleven years. We have two young children, Turner and Sabrina. I stay home with the kids, and Jack works construction."
"And what do you like to do for fun?"
"Fun?" Patty looked completely bewildered, as if nobody had ever asked her that. "I ..." She stifled a sob. "I'm sorry."
"There's nothing to be sorry about. This is a safe space." Sophia snatched a tissue from a box next to her chair, leaning to hand it to Patty.
"Safe. What does that mean, really?" Patty wiped underneath her eyes and blew her nose. "I lied about why I made this appointment. I told your secretary I was here for anxiety."
The chill returned to Sophia's spine. "Oh?" It was the only word she could manage.
"I'm here because ..." Patty's hand trembled. She rolled up her sleeve, revealing at least a dozen bruises, all in different stages of healing. "This."
Nausea rolled through Sophia's stomach. "Who —" She cleared her throat. "Who did that to you, Patty?"
"I don't think he means to." Patty let her sleeve fall back into place. "He just gets so angry when he drinks."
I'm sorry, baby. That wasn't me. Not the real me. It was the scotch talking.
No. His voice was not welcome here. Not now. Sophia reached deep inside, pulling from the strength she'd gained in the last few months. She gripped her pen tighter. "Your husband?"
A slight nod. "He's a good father. And a good husband. Most of the time. I just make him mad sometimes. I try not to, but maybe I'm just not grateful enough for what I have, you know?"
I've done nothing but love you, you ungrateful —
"That's called victim blaming, Patty. Tell me, do you believe those things?"
The words burned her tongue. How could she ask that?
After all, she'd let David sweet-talk her into loving him — preying on her vulnerability and the fact that she'd been too focused on school and then work to date much and experience real love — then stayed with him even when he began putting her down, a little at a time, then all the time, until her self-confidence was zilch and her emotions frayed.
And though he'd only hit her once, right before he'd died, how could Sophia sit here and ask this woman if she believed the lies her husband told her?
Because she had believed them, despite everything her textbooks had ever taught her.
Patty shrugged with one shoulder. She leaned forward. "All I know is, I can't live like this anymore. The other day, I actually had the thought —" Another sob wrenched from her mouth.
"What thought, Patty?" The words came out tense, strung together of desperation. A physical aching filled Sophia's bones.
"I wished ... I wished he was dead."
A flood of memories rushed in, David's voice at the forefront of them all. Pointing fingers, flying fists, nasty words — all aimed her direction.
The strength she'd imagined holding her in this chair left her body.
She couldn't stay here. She couldn't help this woman. She couldn't even help herself.
"I'm sorry, Patty. I have ... I have to leave."
Sophia rose from her seat and raced out the door.CHAPTER 2
So much of her future hinged on the twitch of an eye.
Ginny Rose folded her hands and placed them in her lap. The small office where she sat across from Reginald Brown felt stuffy despite the cool May temperatures outside. A droplet of sweat ran down the side of her face. Perhaps she should have worn her long, brown hair up in a bun like Mother would have. But these days, she tried to avoid doing anything like Mariah Bentley.
Not that it mattered how professional and grown-up she looked. Though the people of Port Willis had embraced her as one of their own five years ago when she'd trailed Garrett Rose from America to Cornwall, England, it was a small town. Mr. Brown knew her situation, no matter how she'd tried to put a positive spin on it.
He cleared his throat as he studied her application for a loan. "I apologize I didn't have a chance to review this before now. My secretary squeezed you in last minute as a courtesy."
"Oh, I completely understand. And thank you. Again."
His long, bony fingers tapped the edge of the multipage document in front of him. Mr. Brown adjusted his spectacles, and a slight frown overtook the corners of his droopy lips.
Just as long as his eye didn't twitch. According to her brother-in-law William — who had grown up in this town and had known Mr. Brown all his life — if that happened, she was done for.
And she couldn't bear to consider the possibility of that happening. How would Rosebud Books ever survive without this loan?
The better question was, how much of this was her fault — and how much was Garrett's? He'd always been in charge of the money side of things, despite the three years of business courses Ginny had taken before dropping out of Harvard. Numbers had never really been her passion, so she'd been more than happy to let him handle the bookstore's finances. Perhaps that had been a mistake. Or maybe she'd simply spent too much during the six months since he'd been gone.
How embarrassed her parents would be if they knew. Not that she could really do much to "humiliate" them further, according to her mom. She'd already chosen to do things far differently than her older siblings Sarah and Benjamin, who had followed in their parents' footsteps — she a high-powered attorney, he a vice president in a subsidiary of their father's company.(Continues…)
Excerpted from "The Secrets of Paper and Ink"
Copyright © 2019 Lindsay Harrel.
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.
Most Helpful Customer Reviews
A compelling story that kept me up late at night to finish! Set mainly in Cornwall, the author effectively uses a dual timeline to knit together the lives of three women--one from the 19th century--all who survived major difficulties and came out stronger for them. This book was quite a therapeutic read, as the women featured worked through their problems, trying to make sense out of them; the story gave a unique perspective to the process. Dealing with abandonment, abuse, and loss, they didn't let their traumas define who they were anymore. Instead, they overcame by finding a new path or dream, and learned to accept help from others. Ultimately faith and friendship brought hope and healing back into their lives. I loved the setting, in a small port town along the Cornish coast, and the old bookshop. I would love to visit and work there too! Recommend to readers who enjoy women's fiction with some romance and a bit of faith. 4.5 stars (I received a complimentary e-book from the publisher. All opinions expressed are completely my own.)
Life can be messy, painful...and beautiful... I read Lindsay Harrel's debut novel not that long ago, it truly moved me in a way that a novel seldom does. So it naturall followed that I would want to read her next book when it came out. The Secrets Of Paper And Ink was another excellent read, just a little different from its predecessor. I finished the book a short while ago but I know that it is one that I will be pondering, digesting, for awhile yet. This book features the intertwined stories of three women. Two of them are contemporary and the third is from the Victorian Era. Over a century spans their lives but they intersect in a way that could only be called a God thing. Each of them has been hurt, by circumstances, and by the people closest to them. And each of them must work their way through the pain and find their identity in the only One who will always be there for them, and for us. This is the overarching theme that will resonate with women readers of all ages. A thought-provoking story, The Secrets Of Paper And Ink is a book to both enjoy and ponder. It's easy to get immersed in the lives of Sophia, Ginny, and Emily, but it is equally as easy to see the parallels in our own lives. To see that when life hands you lemons, search for the sugar that can only come from the hand of God, and make it into lemonade. Lindsay Harrel may be a new author in what I would call women's fiction but she is also one to watch. I for one, am looking forward to reading more from this talented author. (I received a copy of this book from the publisher. All opinions are entirely my own.)
This is a new author to me and this will not be the last book I read by her. This was a wonderful mix of contemporary and historical fiction. I loved the three main women that are in the book. There are Sophia, Ginny and Emily. Each woman has a secret that they are trying to conquer. I did not want to put this book down. I needed to know what would happen to each woman. I received a copy of the book from Celebratelit for a fair and honest opinion that I gave of my own free will.
This was a captivating split time novel that I thought was really exceptional. The characters were really genuine and the story lines were compelling in both time periods. This book deals with some very realistic life circumstances that these characters must navigate and they will win your heart along the way. This book should go on your must read list and will stick with you long after reading the last pages.
What I Loved: Harrel has a gift for plucking the reader out of their home and transporting them to a foreign country. She writes as an export. Beyond the fun travel details, there’s a beautiful soul-deep journey for the character and the reader. There’s a dual-timeline here, so the reader is treated to two contemporary storylines and one historical story. The history lover in me rejoices at Harrel’s decision to incorporate pages from a journal. I will admit that this one took me a few pages longer to get fully wrapped up in, but the dramas of the heart tends to be a slower journey compared to war fiction, which I had been reading a great deal of lately. But I found the characters easy to relate to and the spiritual message comes in clearly near the end and left my heart warm and satisfied. Rating and Recommendations: I’m giving The Secrets of Paper and Ink 5 stars and highly recommend it to those who enjoy Christian Fiction, dual timelines, women’s fiction, or those wanting to travel in the pages of a novel. ~ I received a copy from the publisher through NetGalley. I was not compensated for my review. All thoughts are my own.
Through the depths of emotions comes a book so powerful that readers will have a hard time putting the story away. I read it in one sitting because it captured me right away. It is hard not to become attached to the characters as they draw you into their struggles. I love time-slip stories and this one is the best I have read. The author threads three characters through time and attach them forever in history. The beautiful way the author slips from past to present is seamless. I became committed to one time period and didn’t want to leave. The characters are three young women who all are looking for what we all desire. They want to be accepted and loved. Emily is such a sweet person who has loved Edward ever since they were children. They have always claimed to just be friends, but Emily has ached over Edward for years. I loved how they would hide letters and other things at their special tree. Wouldn’t it be so romantic to have a special place where you find a note from that special someone? I could picture the tree with its branches that spread out in anticipation of secrets hidden among its beauty. Emily and Edward are two people who have hidden their feelings from each other. Can Emily’s dream of becoming an author ever come true? Will it be to late for them to find happiness when a wedding looms over their head? Will one marry to please their family or find the courageous to follow their heart? Across the pond we meet Ginny. She has a wonderful bookstore and until a few months ago, a happy marriage. It was heartbreaking to see Ginny feel inadequate to make the bookstore a success without her husband. Her heart is crushed when her husband leaves her. Finding out that you were never loved by your husband crushes Ginny. I loved getting to know the dynamics of Ginny as she was growing up. She has always had this sense that she never was good enough, never as smart as her siblings and a disgrace to the family . My heart went out to her as this burden of rejection as followed her all her life. Will she discover how much she is loved by God? Can she let go of the past and allow someone to show her how valuable she is? I saved Sophia's story for last. This woman was who I felt a connection to. She has a great practice as a therapist for women. When she faces a tragedy in her life, it is too much for her. She takes time off to heal and try to understand how she allowed a man like David in her life. He was sweet at first but suddenly became this demanding and abusive husband. His death shakes her to her core. She is free of him but her guilt of feeling this way takes over her life. It's time for a change. This is where Emily and Sophia's lives intersect. The perfect setup for Sophia is waiting for her across the pond. She rents a room from Emily and works in her bookstore to help pay the rent for her little apartment above the store. It was just what she needed. Her love of books is refreshing . I could relate to her because she escapes into books like I do. They allow us to forget everything and find adventure in stories. Her discovery of Emily's writing from so long ago intrigued her. Emily' strength is what Sophia admired They both suffered a loss but Emily was able to move forward. Can Sophia find the truth behind the manuscript she found of Emily's? The ending is one that made me linger long after I read the last word. I don't want to leave this story but I know it will never be far from my heart. We all have hopes and dreams
I adored this story. It was rich. Rich with emotion: Love, sorrow, joy, and hope. The depth of emotion, along with a beautiful setting and artistic storytelling, made this a book to treasure. Each woman was talented, and their stories of growth and healing were inspirational. I highly recommend this book to women who love reading, both contemporary and historical, for the amazing stories found in its pages. I received a copy of this book from the publisher, Thomas Nelson, through Celebrate Lit, for review purposes. The thoughts expressed here are my own.
“The Secrets of Paper and Ink” is my first novel that I’ve read from Lindsay Harrel and it most definitely will not be my last. This is one of those reads that stole my heart and soul. Sophia is a completely relatable character, especially when it comes to love of books and understanding of the power of healing books can give. She’s dealing with some heavy stuff so she decides to go to Cornwall, England and work in a bookstore for the summer. That’s where Ginny comes into the story. She, too, is experiencing some hardships in her life and the two form a friendship. This is a story where characters facing extremely difficult experiences in their lives who find grace, redemption, and commitment. The author has a gift of writing that makes her readers feel as if you’re physically there. From the scents and sounds of the ocean waves, Ginny’s baked goods, and the love of a bookstore, this story will capture all of the senses as well as your emotions. What is even more remarkable is that this is sort of a dual timeline kind of tale. I won’t go too much into it because I don’t want to spoil the story, but this impacts the plot in a major way that I thought was well done. I can imagine this as a rom-com or a Hallmark movie. Can we please get this on the big screen? Overall, this will definitely be one of my favorite reads of 2019. Highly recommended! Disclaimer: I received a copy of this book from the publisher for my honest review, which I have given. I was not required to write a positive review and have not been compensated for it in any way. All opinions expressed are my own.
The secret of paper and ink I love this kind of book, where the past and present comes together. Historical’s are my favorite to read. Also most of the book being set in England I found very interesting. It is always fun to travel to someplace else through a book. Sophia needs to get away, so she ends up in England where she meets Ginny. She helps Ginny with the bookstore. She finds a journal from the past. She seeks at to learn more about Emily that wrote the journal. I have found another author that I enjoy. I definitely look forward to reading more books by the author. I received an advanced copy of the book from the publisher through Celebrate Lit. I was not required to write an positive review. This is my own opinion.
What a beautiful story and I love the setting. We are in the POV of three women, each dealing with their own struggles. My heart broke for each them. For Sophia I felt her pain as she dealt with the past and the fact that she blamed herself for all that happened. Ginny broke my heart because I wanted to have hope for her and her marriage, that some how things would reconcile but if not that God would show her a better way. Emily's store seems hopeless, nothing can change, or so it seems. Each character will speak to a different place in your heart. A copy of this book was given to me through the Celebrate Lit Team. All opinions are my own.
TTalk about a major book hangover! This story... how can you put it into words. I connected with this story in a way I don’t normally connect with a fiction book. Everyone at some point in their life has felt some kind of loss. The struggle to let yourself feel it and get past it is real. Sometimes we never do. The depth of human emotion woven into the tapestry of this book is amazing. I laughed. I cried. I wished. I hoped. Ms Harrel writes amazing time hop novels. The story lines flow so seamlessly. They are so interwoven and it makes for a great story. I couldn’t put it down. One of my favorite parts of the story was when I saw reference to Ms Harrel’s other novel, The Heart Between Us. It wasn’t a glaring reference. It was so subtle like a small hidden present for those who had read the first book to capture and smile about. I LOVED that. If I hadn’t read her first book I wouldn’t have connected the dots. And I would have missed the treasure hidden there. (It has no impact on the story and if you haven’t read the other book it’s not a big deal... but for those who have it’s a super cute addition!) This will be one of my favorite books of the year I just know it. The writing is great. The plot is excellent. The relatability is outstanding. I could see myself in the characters. I could connect with them. I could feel their pain. I want to be friends with them. I want to know these people in real life! And the lessons they learn about themselves and God are ones we all so desperately need to learn. I love it when a fiction book speaks to things you are processing in your own life. This book was that for me. Maybe that’s why I love it so much. So well done. I’m glad to have read it. Don’t miss it! I received a copy from CelebrateLit bloggers. I was in no way required to write a positive review. All thoughts are my own.
The Secrets of Paper and Ink by Lindsay Harrel is my first novel by this author--but I am looking forward to more of her books. This book is a beautiful weaving of the past and present as we read the story of three women's lives. Sophia Barrett is a trained counselor who realizes she needs to face her own pain and past before she can continue to help other women. Ginny Rose is a bookstore owner in England facing her own tough relationship challenges who also needs to help save her dying bookstore and rents a room to Sophia for the summer. Sophia goes to England and lives above the bookstore hoping to spend time writing out her story to find healing during a break from her job. As she helps Ginny sort through books one day, she discovers a notebook with journal entries from Emily Fairfax, which sets the ladies on a search to solve a mystery. I enjoyed reading The Secrets of Paper and Ink so much. Sophia's history does contain some abuse and honestly that abuse was similar to what I went through in a relationship. It has been long enough ago for me that it didn't create any ptsd triggers but it may for some women. However, in spite of that possibility, I think this book would be healing for many women.--to feel like there is someone out there who understands what it is like. I think her portrayal of Sophia's thought life and stresses was spot on. In the end, it is nice to see Sophia get the healing she needed. I like that Harrel also has a page in back on how to get help if you are someone in an abusive situation. The Secrets of Paper and Ink is more of a contemporary chick lit novel than romance but there is some romance within the story. There is also a mystery to solve which adds a fun element. I especially like the friendship that forms between Sophia and Ginny. There are some good discussion questions at the end of the book. I read a good fiction book with a counselor when I was healing from my own difficult situation. This book could be especially useful in that situation. At the same time, it is just a good read for any woman looking for one. I received this book from the publisher. I was not required to write a positive review
The cover of this book is simply ravishing, is it not? Jaw-droppingly gorgeous, in my opinion! That was incentive enough for me to read this book. Add in that it is about books and a bookstore, set in Cornwall, England, and is the authors second novel – count me in. ;) The prologue starts us off with letters written from Emily Fairfax from the 19th century. I found this to be a lovely beginning. I would gladly read a whole novel comprised of letters. But anyway! “The Secrets of Paper and Ink” follow more than just one story-line. We are introduced to three leading heroine’s; two in the present day, and Emily from the past. I loved each of these stories and how they were interwoven with each other. I must say though, that I favored Emily’s portions. I loved being enveloped into her time period, and seeing the struggles she was faced with, and the joys she discovered. Her piece was written in first person, and I really am a sucker for that style of writing. :) That is not to say that I didn’t connect with Sophia and Ginny, though. I very much enjoyed each of their stories. And their friendship was perfect – they were there for each other at just the right time. And I looooved the bookstore aspect! I so want to own a bookstore, and that was just so fun. I also really liked how each character was so unique and individual to themselves. They were all fantastic, and William was so sweet! Memorable characters for sure. The one and only thing that kept this being a full five stars for me was the faith content. While there at the end, it wasn’t as strong as I was hoping for, and there were a couple spots that hinted at a more “laid back” view of religions in general that I wasn’t keen on. Don’t get me wrong – the ending message was about finding ourselves in God alone, and that was beautiful. But I felt that there was a theme, especially in the beginning that was more a bit prominent and that was the message of “being true to ourselves”. Emily wrote towards the end that true strength doesn’t come from us or other people, but rather alluded to it being the Lord – I know that is what she meant when she said “It is to another strength we must look, to first build and then to sustain us.” but I admit I was hoping for a stronger pointing to God – an obvious shout that He is the One she received healing from. The story itself was (or rather, I should say the stories themselves were ;)) beautiful, and written very well. This wasn’t just a fluff book – it was lovely and entertaining, and meaningful. I will definitely be giving it another read or two in the future! Lindsay Harrel writes a very captivating tale that keeps you until the very end.
The Secrets of Paper and Ink spoke to my heart and my soul. There’s something very special about this novel – a love letter to the healing power of books, a reminder that ‘happily ever after’ make look different than we expected it to, a peek at the messy-beautiful strength of women who have survived their own worst-case scenarios, and a beautiful picture of redemption, grace, and contentment. I am still sitting here, thinking about this story, and I don’t think it will leave me for quite some time. The ‘past timeline’ woven throughout the present is seamlessly done and absolutely captivating. I devoured every word of Emily’s story, as well as Sophia’s quest to separate its reality from fiction. The emotions grip your heart and hold it fast, both in Emily’s story and in Sophia’s & Ginny’s present-day narratives. All three women know what it feels like to suffer shattered dreams and to be uncertain if you’ll survive the aftermath. Their three-fold story in The Secrets of Paper and Ink gives hope to other weary souls in the same place in life … an acknowledgment that true restoration lies only in the One who writes our stories and that the dreams He dreams for us are so much greater than what we dare to dream for ourselves. The bookstore feels like a home away from home, even for the reader, a comforting setting that wraps us up in all the feels. The heroes are completely yummy – good guys who may not be perfect but their hearts are in the right place and their tender strength is a place of safety. The story itself has depth and dimension, not skirting over tough issues like abuse, infidelity, divorce, but also pouring out grace and mercy to fill in the broken places without becoming trite or preachy. Bottom Line: One of the best books I've read this year! The characters have firmly taken up residence in my heart, and their story is still lingering there as well. The setting is everything-Jane-Austen-England-bookstore delightful, and it makes me want to book my own trip to live above a bookstore and work there during my stay. A creative, tender, and masterfully done story of life, love, letting go, and truly living. (I voluntarily reviewed a complimentary copy of this book)
This is the first book I have read by author Lindsay Harrel. I really enjoyed her style of writing. Her book had a very nice story. It was divided into different time periods and three separate stories that intertwined. The writing immediately drew me in. I loved Emily the most of the three ladies and felt like her confidant sharing secrets. Her character was adorable yet haunting. The other two came in a close second, so obviously I loved Ginny and Sophia, also. The Author has some powerful messages in this enchanting story. Suggesting journaling and writing to assist in healing was music to my ears. I am a believer in journaling. Making mention that bad things happen in life but God is always there for us rings true. God takes our broken pieces and puts us back together. Everyone needs to hear that. Author Harrel has an enchanting writing style. Her words were eloquent and I had no trouble following her story. The descriptive nature of her writing picked me up and put me down in England. Obviously the author had done research on the area and time period, too. Language and descriptions were spot on. The characters were lovable and approachable. Each one was well rounded with distinct characteristics. Their story and lives were easy to become invested in and I wanted to give them advice at times. The more I read, the more I felt like I had become the main character or characters. I felt their happiness, heartbreak, fear, confusion, and doubt. The author provides a puzzle that eventually comes together joining all three stories seamlessly. The Christian inspiration is woven throughout the book unevenly. At times it is a subtle whisper and others a loud voice. The inconsistency bothered me. Messages of hope, trusting God, healing and finding joy abound. I would recommend this book to any woman. The historical sections were more enjoyable to me because that is my preference. The contemporary was great, too. This would make a great small group book even lacking the consistent faith element. It earns a 5 out of 5 stars from me. A copy was provided by Celebrate Lit but I was under no obligation to write a review. These are my own, honest words.
This book is about three young women who are all struggling in some way or another with life, love and purpose. One woman, Sophia, lives in Arizona and has been dealing with the death of a fiance and a return to a counseling job she is now feeling fully unqualified for. The second woman, Ginny, lives in the Cornwall, England area and has been trying to keep a bookstore open. The bookstore is a dream of her husband’s but he is off on his own with no news of where. Ginny is struggling in his absence with no real idea when he will return. The third woman enters the story by way of a notebook from the 1800’s. Her name is Emily. She has written a journal style account of her life that Sophia and Ginny have uncovered in a box in the back of the bookstore. She is grieving the loss of her father and struggling to find work and write in her spare time in an age when women did not really do either in proper circles. The three women’s lives collide in an intriguing story of hope, second chances and abundant amounts of grace and mercy. It is a fascinating story of how God works all things together for good for those who love Him. (Romans 8:28)
I don’t know that I have read a book that spoke to me as deeply as this one. It is hard to even describe it. I was sitting in a public place, reading and was struggling to hold back tears. For me, that is something that meant it touched me somewhere beyond the surface. I loved the story, both the modern and historical. The author did an incredible job of capturing the novel location, but also the hard topics that she touched on. Domestic Violence, abandonment, and discovering oneself all are packaged in this book, but don’t assume this is a heavy story. It is one of those books that you will want to give as gifts to other book lovers. I obtained this book from the publisher through NetGalley. The opinions contained are my own.
his wonderful book follows the lives of three women who have difficult circumstances and heartbreak to overcome. In the current day, Sophia is a therapist who lives in Arizona. She works with her best friend Joy, but Joy asks her to take time off work because her boyfriend David died recently and his abusive behavior still haunts Sophia. When Sophia tries to go back to work, she ends up counseling another woman dealing with an abusive relationship, and she has to take more time off because she can't handle it. Sophia decides to go to Cornwall, England and work in a bookstore for a few months. Ginny is the woman who owns the bookstore that Sophia decides to work in. She needs extra help because her husband left her and hasn't contacted her recently. Now the bookstore is in trouble and Ginny needs new ideas to revitalize the store. While cleaning, Sophia finds a notebook with a story inside about a woman named Emily who lived in the mid 1800's. Working together, Ginny and Sophia make improvements to the store and become best friends in the process. They also learn more about Emily and her hope in the midst of difficult circumstances. Sophia finds herself falling for William, a kind man with a mutual love of books, and Ginny finds friendship in Stephen during her heartbreaking circumstances. Will All three women find a happy ending, even Emily? I loved this book very much. The characters were so realistic and easy to sympathize with, and the descriptions of Cornwall and the bookstore were so well done that I wanted to be there. All three women had heartbreaking circumstances to deal with, and the way the author addressed abusive relationships and adultery was sensitive, yet realistic and relevant. I didn't agree with everything the characters did, but I thoroughly enjoyed this book and found some great and encouraging quotes as I read. William was my favorite character, but all of them were portrayed well. I would've liked to see more of the narrative include God. Other than that, I highly recommend this book to anyone who enjoys women's fiction and is looking for encouragement. I received a complimentary copy of this book from the publisher through NetGalley. A positive review was not required, and all opinions expressed are entirely my own.
As an avid reader and bookstore fan, I could not wait to begin reading The Secrets of Paper and Ink by Lindsay Harrel. The idea of casting aside normal responsibilities and settings to move to England and live over a bookstore intrigued me. I found myself wanting to read more about Sophia, Ginny Rose (the bookstore owner) and Emily Fairfax (the governess whose journal Sophia finds). Even though Emily lived over 150 years ago, the chapters dedicated to her kept my interest and desire to read more. The book is broken down with chapters devoted to Sophia, Ginny, and Emily. The chapters were long enough to keep me wanting to read more. The characters were realistic and the inclusion of domestic violence/abuse were well-written. The death of Sophia’s abusive fiance a year earlier causes her world to crumble. Having witnessed scenes of verbal abuse myself, I can not imagine dealing with physical abuse followed by the death of the abuser. The scene where Sophia returned to work seemed to indicate a massive change was going to be necessary. Ginny’s story of wanting to save her marriage by saving the bookstore reminded me of my parents and their marriage and eventual divorce. I truly believe many marriages can be saved, but I also believe some marriages are destined for divorce. I will not spoil the story for you by telling the outcome of Ginny’s marriage. Finally, the story of Emily intertwines with Sophia in a way that made me feel as though I was actually there both in the present and the past. I loved reading about her life. I can only imagine what it must have been like for her to be in love with someone wealthy who society would view as being above her social status. As someone who loves reading and firmly believes that with a book I can never be alone or bored, I could understand and relate to Sophia’s use of books as a means of escape and getting through the days. I have a number of books I love to turn to when times get hard. So if you are looking for a book about overcoming life’s circumstances and finding the strength to go on, check out this book for yourself.
The Secrets of Paper and Ink is a powerful story of healing, second chances, and romance. Lindsay Harrel created an incredible time-slip novel that her readers will fall in love with. The beautiful descriptions of Cornwall, England and the cozy bookstore make the readers feel like they are a part of the story. The author tells the story of bookstore owner Ginny Rose and counselor Sophia Barrett in the contemporary storylines and the story of governess Emily Fairfax from the mid 1800s. While working in Ginny's bookstore, Sophia finds a notebook with journal writings of Emily's in a pile of donated books. She finds inspiration in Emily's story and begins to research information about Emily's past, while searching for healing and peace in her own life. Lindsay Harrel discuses some difficult topics in this novel, such as domestic violence, infidelity, and abandonment, in such a way that will inspire her readers to discover their true selves and the power of words. This book is absolutely amazing. I could not put it down, and I am going through book withdrawal now that the story is over! Even though it is only March, this book will definitely be on my top ten list of Christian Fiction books of 2019!
What a well written, beautiful story, about three incredible women. Ms. Harrel has a special way of weaving two couples from the present and the past, and a flawless way of connecting them. This story is about love, forgiveness and faith and it is book-ended by romance. I picked up The Secrets of Paper and Ink and it grabbed me by the heartstrings from the first page. I could not put it down. For me this was a very emotional read. Often I found my self in tears. Ms. Harrel does an excellent job of covering some heavy topics in this story. From Sophia's domestic violence, from a prior abusive fiance, Ginny's abandonment and husband's unfaithfulness, and Emily Fairfax, a Victorian governess from Cornwall England, who knew two things. She wanted to become a published writer and she was in love with her childhood best friend, who was an heir and well above her station in life. All three of these ladies struggled with adequacy issues. For me this book was perfection. It had several of my favorite things. It takes place in England, it is about a book store and old books, There is the mystery of a personal journal, published or not, that is the question. Solving this mystery and putting the puzzle pieces together. Also Ginny's obsession with her stress baking and desire to go to Culinary School. There is a quote from Emily at the end of the book,“Today, I choose not to leave Emily Fairfax behind but to take her with me as I forge on through life, allowing my experiences and the Light within to shine ever brighter. For I am not the sum total of my experiences. I am much, much more because the Light has claimed me. I started writing because I though it would save me, but ultimately it is not our deeds that have such power. For we can never do enough with only our own strength or even the borrowed strength of other people. It is to another strength we must look, to first build and then to sustain us.” I don't know if I did this book justice with my review. It was hard to put into words the emotions it evoked in me. But I truly enjoyed it and believe you will too. I received a copy of this book from Thomas Nelson Publishers through NetGalley. The opinions expressed in this review are my own.
#1 Writing can bring healing.On a really personal level, I loved the exploration of writing as a means of healing in these women's lives. I love to write, and yet sometimes when I need healing I almost avoid writing. I've been considering journaling for just that purpose recently, and so it was really special to walk that journey with these women. #2 The journey brings healing.Even though I kind of knew the mystery almost from the beginning of the book, I loved discovering all the connections between past and present with the characters in this story. Sometimes, sitting at home is what we need, but sometimes, we need to chase after something. It's that search, that journey, that discovery, that God uses to help us put our broken lives back together. #3 There is hope in the midst of very messy lives.One of the things we love about fiction is the happily ever after, the things that finally go the way they should. But so often, real life isn't like that. Life is so messy. (Side note: That's why I love how messy the Bible is!) It's broken, and sometimes it can't be fixed in this lifetime. The women in these stories certainly found that to be the case. But even so, even in the midst of trauma and grief and broken relationships and unrequited love and failing businesses...these women found hope. They found a strength and an identity in God rather than in a business or a relationship. And, they found healing and new relationships, too. Maybe it didn't go the way we wanted it to go...but God still brought something good out of it, and these women found love and fulfilling lives even though all the broken stuff didn't get fixed, maybe even can't get fixed in this lifetime. What I Didn't Love About The Secrets of Paper and Ink I don't like that William gets involved with someone who doesn't share his faith - and there doesn't even seem to be any conflict over it. This is a pet peeve of mine with a lot of Christian romance. We try to do the faith story and the romance story together, but often it comes out looking like "missionary dating" or simply like a relationship I wouldn't recommend...and it's portrayed as if the way it happened was a good thing. Christian guys, don't get involved with a girl who doesn't share your faith. If she's on that journey, pray for her and wait around if you want. But dating her is a sure way to break your heart and your faith (or hers). I also felt like the spiritual element of this story was hinted at towards the beginning, and was very strong at the end, but was hardly noticeable in the middle of the story. It's not necessarily wrong, but it made it seem a little bit like an afterthought and kind of a surprise at the end. Would I recommend The Secrets of Paper and Ink? Yes, I would recommend this book. I really enjoyed the story, especially the historical sections, and I would like to see more from this author. I received a review copy of this book; all opinions are my own.
“But stories do not need to be read by others to have power. We simply have to believe in their importance and trust that the One who wrote them had a reason for doing so. We must embrace that story and remember that who we are is not defined by the ups and downs of our lives -the failures OR the successes. Nay, we are instead defined by Whose we are.” What a powerful, enchanting, and gripping split-time novel by Lindsay Harrel! In her newest release, the author creates a written world worthy of the title “Secrets of Paper and Ink” as she melds the desperate and heartbroken Emily of 1856 Cornwall with equally desperate and heartbroken Ginny and Sophia who are American transplants in Cornwall of present day. The author’s writing will grab you from the first page and not let go, even after the last page is read. There is so much heartbreak, pain, and suffering portrayed, yet glimmers of hope, forgiveness, and joy will beckon you to travel the journey with these three women in the story. The characters indeed are raw, real, and completely broken but they need to hit that rock bottom to realize who they are and what they are meant to be doing. This story speaks of shattered hearts, deeply forged bonds of friendship, and pursuing dreams despite insecurities and past failures while gently touching on the topic of healing only through God’s grace and mercy. Anyone who enjoys a well-written split-time novel would absolutely love this book. Emily, Ginny, and Sophia are all independent women who are strong and determined. But beneath their strength lie hearts that are vulnerable, tender, and needing love. Emily, though scorned by others, pursues her dream to be a published author while Ginny hides from her dream of becoming a pastry chef and Sophia has no idea what her dream even is. The men who walk alongside these women are all loyal, honorable, tender, and amazing but each relationship takes different twists and turns as the story unfolds. I am holding my breath for the next book by Lindsay Harrel! I received a copy of this book from Thomas Nelson and also via Celebrate Lit Tours and was under no obligation to post a positive review. All comments and opinions are solely my own.
This was such a lovely story. It follows 3 women, all struggling with things in their lives and journeying to discover what truly matters. It takes place in Cornwall, England, a place I've never visited in books or real life, and I really enjoyed the time I spent there in this novel. Not only is the book set in a very quaint seaside English town, a large portion of it takes place in a bookstore. What more could a book lover ask for? The characters in the story were all people that I would love to be friends with. I adored the friendship that was formed between Sophia and Ginny and Emily was such a sweet- natured girl that I was rooting for throughout the entire book. The romances were also very well done and not rushed or unrealistic. The faith content was subtle but very well done and I loved the message that was given through it. Overall, I found this to be a very enjoyable story to escape into. Lindsay's writing style is very easy to slip into and I would definitely read more of her books. I received this book from the publisher/author to review. All thoughts and opinions are my own.
What a treat to be transported to Cornwall England for a charming story of three different women linked together by a notebook found in a bookstore. Author Lindsay Harrel has masterfully woven together their different stories and placed them in a setting that left me longing to visit Cornwall in person and find that bookstore. The past and present come together in a captivating way that kept me enthralled through the entire book. Vividly drawn and realistic, but broken, characters help each other heal through their interaction. Sophia and Ginny find friendship in an unexpected way, and through that friendship, the story of Emily emerges. Although Emily lived over 150 years ago, her story is inspiring, and Harrel integrates her story with the present very effectively. Tender threads of forgiveness, healing, friendship, and hope weave through the tale and give it an added depth. I also loved the message of following your dreams and finding joy and happiness in what you do. The growth and healing of each of the three women was beautiful and satisfying, and I was cheering for each to find their happily ever after. 4 ½ stars rounded to 5. I voluntarily reviewed a complimentary copy from the author/publisher. All opinions are my own.