A Love Restored by Kelly Goshorn is a story about the things we tell ourselves, the truth that goes beyond that, and the affect that can have on our ability to love others. It is a lovely story about a romance that is sweet at first, but gains real depth and dimension as you dive in further. The well-crafted writing skills of the author make for an enjoyable and easy read. You can see the mountains, feel your own heart beat quicken with Ruth Ann’s, and even smell the pie.
The characters are well developed and, like the romance, they all have depth to them. And there were all the feels. For sure.
One of the things I loved about this novel was that the main female character is not your “typical” size. She’s got curves. And she struggles for the way society looks upon her (as would be expected during this period for the described amount of plumpness she possesses). This led to some insecurity issues and challenges loving herself, but in no way did the author demean or mishandle the situation historically or for anyone reading that has experiences such inner and outward struggles. To the contrary, I felt Goshorn elevated this situation and showed that this type of heroine is appropriate and belongs.
I absolutely enjoyed this story and look forward to reading what comes next from Goshorn.
Hey, Kelly! It’s great to have you on the blog. I so very much enjoyed the book. But for my readers who haven’t read it, can you give us an overview of the book?
From the back cover: She was nothing like the woman he’d envisioned for his bride, but he was everything she’d ever dreamed of—until a promise from his past threatened their future.
With pert opinions and a less-than-perfect figure, Ruth Ann Sutton doesn’t measure up to society’s vision of a perfect lady. When she accepts a position teaching in a Freedman’s School, it threatens the only marriage offer Ruth Ann is likely to receive. She’s forced to choose between life as a lonely spinster or reinventing herself to secure a respectable proposal.
Determined to rise above his meager beginnings, Benjamin Coulter’s reputation as a fast learner and hard worker earn him the opportunity to apprentice with a surveyor for the railroad—a position that will garner the respect of other men. After a chance encounter with Ruth Ann Sutton, Benjamin is smitten with her pretty face, quick wit, and feisty personality.
When others ridicule his choice, will Benjamin listen to his heart or put ambition first?
You had mentioned something to me about your inspiration for A Love Restored that I found very interesting. Care to share it with my readers?
A Love Restored is based on my real-life love story with my husband, Mike—all of our ups and downs, including our emotionally devastating break up. When I first began writing, I tinkered with a story about Irish mail-order brides (the whole mail-order bride thing just fascinates me). Hubby read it, told me it “wasn’t bad,” then suggested I write our story. Skeptical, I questioned him. “Are you sure. I mean you don’t look so good in that story for a long time.” He grinned and responded, “Yeah, but I think it turned out all right.” I’d have to agree. We celebrated our 28th wedding anniversary in mid-June.
I loved so many things about this. And there were definitely times in the story (knowing ahead of time that it was inspired by your own romance), that I wondered which details were based on real life and which were fictionalized.
How much of your heroine’s journey mirrors your own?
Like my full-figured heroine, Ruth Ann, I’ve struggled with weight issues my entire life. That struggle plays an important part in our story. I’ve had cruel things said about my appearance. Oftentimes by people who were supposed to love me. But their insensitive words failed in comparison to the ugly way I spoke to myself. I’d become so defined by the negative comments and opinions of those surrounding me, I no longer saw anything to esteem. I’d allowed my self-worth to be determined by a yardstick that measured my value according to the size of my waist or the flatness of my stomach, always coming up short. My own journey to self-acceptance, as well as what a loving God will do to grab a stubborn woman’s attention, are pivotal to the story line.
And, as you saw in my review, was one of my favorite things about this book! I loved seeing a heroine that wasn’t so typical, yet was handled appropriately to the period and still affirmed the value of women of all sizes.
You mentioned that your husband “doesn’t look so good” in the story for a long time. What were the highlights and challenges of telling your husband’s journey through your hero, Benjamin Coulter?
Showing readers what a jewel my husband, Mike, is was definitely the highlight. Like my husband, Benjamin makes Ruth Ann laugh, holds her accountable to herself and is very generous with his time and talents. He is extremely intelligent, and like my husband, Benjamin woos Ruth Ann with his guitar and teases her about my not-so-stellar singing voice.
Like my hero, Mike also struggled with his pride and let vows, words he’d spoken over himself, dictate his choices. Benjamin’s journey is about finding the courage to challenge society’s idea of what success and beauty look like as well as trusting God’s plan for his life. I found it challenging to write his character, who struggles to come to terms with Ruth Ann’s fuller-figure, without making him look shallow.
I hope readers will find him to be strong, good-hearted character struggling with a very human flaw who looks to God and scripture for guidance and healing.
Now, as much as the story rings true for you and your husband, there are pieces that speak to history. Care to share the more historically significant events behind your story?
Since the story is based on my life, it was a natural choice to make my heroine a teacher as well. While researching the post-Civil War history of my town and the county as a whole, I began reading about the life of the freed slaves in the area and the Freedman’s Schools to educate them. I discovered that Fannie Wood, a white woman from Middleboro, Massachusetts, came to the area to teach in one of the newly authorized Freedman’s Bureau schools in the nearby town of Warrenton.
But in Reconstruction Era Virginia, Miss Wood’s tenure would not be without opposition from those who did not want the freed slaves educated. A Warrenton newspaper, The True Index, printed the first paragraph of a threatening letter sent to Miss Wood: “We the young men of this town think you are a disgrace to decent society and therefore wish you to leave this town before the first of March and if you don’t there will be violence used to make you comply to this request.”
That threatening note became the inspiration for my secondary storyline in A Love Restored.
When did you first realize you wanted to be a writer?
Truthfully, I never saw it coming! I had always enjoyed writing papers for my college history classes, but I NEVER considered writing fiction. I’d been a successful in-home childcare provider for nearly twenty years, but I knew in my heart it was time to move on to something new.
My husband and I began praying for God to give me a new direction, a new passion in my life I would undeniably know He’d planted in my heart. On a whim, I began tinkering with storytelling and it didn’t take long for my secret hobby to become my God-given passion!
Though our hearts long to write, there’s always that part of the process we don’t care for so much. What is it for you?
Filling up the blank page. Ugh. Sometimes it is a real slugfest to fill up that empty page and get the draft written. I much prefer the editing process. Taking those rough words and polishing them until they shine is the part I enjoy the most.
Everyone is so different. I’d much rather fill that blank page than edit any day! How fun!
We are also always learning from others – conference, books on the craft of writing, workshops, critique groups…even when we are reading. What about you? What are you currently reading?
I just finished a wonderful retelling of the book of Hosea, Hosea’s Heart, by Linda Wood Rondeau. Next up: I’m torn between The Reckoning at Gossamer Pond by Jamie Jo Wright and More Than Meets the Eye by Karen Witemeyer. I tend toward historical fiction/romance but also want to read Unbreakable by Ruth Buchanan that looks laugh-out-loud funny and I just picked up Once Upon A Laugh (a collection of contemporary novellas) and am itching to read that as well. Perhaps your readers can help me decide?
I wonder if they can. I may have some willing to give it a go!
My readers all know by now that I have to set the mood for my writing–music definitely included. What kind of music, if any, do you listen to when you write?
When I’m writing I usually listen to classical or big band music. Nothing with words or I begin singing along and lose track of my storyline. LOL! I do have a playlist for my current series that I listen to when mowing the lawn or driving to keep me connected with the story. Those songs are a mix of country and contemporary Christian music.
Do you have a favorite time of day to write? What about a favorite place?
After living most of my life as a night owl, I’ve become an early morning person! Gasp! I usually roll out of bed around 5am, make a cup of tea, have some quiet time with the Lord and get to it. I usually have my modest word count goal of 1K/day made by 7-7:30 am. As far as a favorite place to write, not one in particular. Have laptop will travel. LOL! I’m downstairs in the early morning so hubby can sleep, but later in the morning when editing or working on other writing related tasks I can be found in the leather recliner, on the back porch when the weather permits or at my local coffee shop indulging in a chai tea latte.
Tell us something about your newest release that is NOT in the blurb.
A Love Restored is not only a story of love, romance, heartache and restoration, but also a story about the power of words over our lives. It is a story about the struggle each of us faces to take our thoughts captive to the truth of Scripture so we may experience the fullness of God’s unequivocal love for us. As Benjamin and Ruth Ann discover, it is only then that we are truly able to give and receive love, unconditionally.
Do you have any current projects you’re working on? Care to share?
I’m very excited about the series I’m working on now, Surrendered Hearts. Set in Civil War Virginia, the series examines what happens when God calls us to surrender those things we hold most dear. Characters are called to sacrifice their dreams and ambitions, their pride, and ultimately their hearts as God recklessly pursues each of them. Hearts and wills are challenged, and lives transformed as characters experience restoration with one another and with God. If readers are interested in learning more, the can visit the Surrendered Hearts page on my website.
Thank you, Kelly for being on the blog today. It has been wonderful to chat with you and delve into some of the things behind the book and behind your process a little bit. Now, I must give the blog over to my readers so they can explore the novel for themselves!
A Love Restored
Enjoy an Excerpt
Loudoun County, Virginia
Benjamin Coulter cringed as the shrill tune hung in the air. That woman sure knew how to ruin a Sunday afternoon. Sounded like something was dying and needed to be put out of its misery.
He shook his head. All he wanted to do was rest a while longer. His decision to go around his headstrong superior and talk to Mr. Farrell directly about his boss’s inaccurate measurements had made for a nerve wracking week. That decision could have cost him his job. Thankfully, his discovery had been received well, saving the struggling railroad both time and money.
Benjamin leaned against the sycamore tree and tossed his line into the creek. A slight hint of remorse nicked his conscience. He now sat poised to guide the construction of the Washington & Ohio Railroad through the town of Catoctin Creek and over the Blue Ridge Mountains to Winchester, but he hadn’t intended to get his boss fired. If only the man hadn’t refused to admit he’d made a mistake.
Yep, it was all coming together. Just the way he’d hoped it would when he agreed to leave Texas and take this apprenticeship in Virginia. All he had to do was pass that examination next spring and…
He shuddered. The woman’s screeching escalated to a bone-grating pitch. She’d frighten the fish away for sure. Like most folks, Sunday was his day off, and he didn’t intend to spend it listening to her sing off-key.
Wedging his pole in the mud of the creek bank, he set off to investigate. Her ear-piercing slaughter of The Merry, Merry Month of May led the way. He spied his first glimpse of the lyrical assassin through the thin limbs of a dogwood tree. Perched on a large, flat rock at the edge of the creek, she swirled her bare feet in the water. Behind the rock sat a pair of woman’s boots—fancy ones. Too bad she hadn’t spent some of her shoe allowance on singing lessons. Her voice cracked. “The skies were bright, our hearts were light, in the merry, merry month of May…”
Benjamin winced. That was the fourth time in a row she’d sung that part. For the love of Pete, didn’t Miss Fancy Boots even know the words? He needed to put a stop to this so he could continue fishing—and napping. He stepped forward then stopped. The woman reached up and removed a pin from her hair, then another. Mounds of long chestnut brown ringlets spilled over her shoulders into the middle of her back.
Curls. He groaned. Why’d she have to have curls?
“The skies were bright. Our eyes were light…”
Never mind. Curls or not, the woman’s voice could haunt the dead.
More About the Author
Kelly Goshorn weaves her affinity for history and her passion for God into uplifting stories of love, faith and family set in nineteenth century America. She is a member of American Christian Fiction Writers and Romance Writers of America. Kelly has been enjoying her own happily-ever-after with her husband and best friend, Mike, for 28 years. Together they have raised three children, four cats, two dogs, a turtle, a guinea pig, a gecko, and countless hamsters. Thankfully, not all at the same time. When she is not writing, Kelly enjoys spending time with her young adult children, scrapbooking with friends, board gaming with her husband, and spoiling her Welsh corgi, Levi.
Connect with Kelly and her works
Kelly will giveaway one E-copy of A Love Restored to one random commenter below. To enter, help Kelly choose what book to read next from the following choices: The Reckoning at Gossamer Pond by Jamie Jo Wright, More than Meets the Eye by Karen Witemeyer, Unbreakable by Ruth Buchanan and Once Upon A Laugh (Anthology or Rom-Coms). Be persuasive and let her know the why behind your choice. Have you read it? Want to read it? Love the cover? Read other books by that author?