About the Book


Title: A Love to Behold
 
Author: Sharlene MacLaren
 
Genre: Christian romance, historical
 
Release date: January 8, 2019
 
Publisher: Whitaker House

Two years after the Civil War, Lydia Albright, 27, is an established teacher in Boston when she senses God’s call to leave the comfort and security of her job and go south. She accepts a position to teach in a school for former slaves in Charleston, South Carolina. A church there that’s affiliated with the American Missionary Association offers support, along with room and board at the parsonage.
 
The Ku Klux men are hell-bent on seeing that the new school fails. Lydia’s life is threatened, and the parsonage, church, and school are vandalized.
 
But they haven’t contended with a strong, determined woman like Lydia before. It also helps that she has a couple potential suitors on her side.
 
A Love to Behold is a tale of people who grow strong in the face of adversity and a church that learns love, compassion, and acceptance, even in the face of cruelty and hatred. Click here to purchase your copy!

About the Author



Born and raised in west Michigan, Sharlene MacLaren attended Spring Arbor University. Upon graduating in 1971 with an education degree, she taught second grade for two years, then accepted an invitation to travel internationally with a singing ensemble for one year. In 1975, she came home, returned to her teaching job, and married her childhood sweetheart. Together, they raised two lovely daughters, both of whom are now happily married and enjoying families of their own. Retired in 2003 after thirty-one years of teaching, “Shar” loves to read, sing, travel, and spend time with her family—in particular, her adorable grandchildren!
 
A Christian for over fifty years, and a lover of the English language, Shar always enjoyed dabbling in writing. She remembers well the short stories she wrote in high school, and watching them circulate from girl to girl during government and civics classes. “Psst,” someone would whisper from two rows over, always when the teacher’s back was turned, “pass me the next page.”
 
In the early 2000s, Shar felt God’s call upon her heart to take her writing pleasures a step further, and in 2006, she signed a contract for her first faith-based novel, Through Every Storm, thereby launching her writing career. With eighteen published novels now gracing store shelves and being sold online, she daily gives God all the glory. She dedicated her last novel, Their Daring Hearts, to Jesus.
 
Shar has done numerous countrywide book signings and made several television appearances and radio interviews. She loves speaking for community organizations, libraries, church groups, and women’s conferences. In her church, she is active in women’s ministries, regularly facilitating Bible studies and other events. She and her husband, Cecil, live in Spring Lake, Michigan, with their beautiful white collie, Peyton, and their ragdoll cat, Blue.
 
Shar loves hearing from her readers. If you wish to contact her as a potential speaker for a church function or would simply like to chat with her, please feel free to send her an e-mail at sharlenemaclaren@yahoo.com. She will do her best to answer in a timely manner. You may also find her on Facebook.
 
 

Guest Post from Sharlene

 

 

My dear readers,
 
It has indeed been my great privilege and pleasure to write this series set in Civil War times. What a thought-provoking, amazing, and heart-wrenching era in American history.
 
If you read all three books in the “Forever Freedom” series—Summer on Sunset Ridge, Their Daring Hearts, and A Love to Behold—you will have gotten some history lessons regarding the Religious Society of Friends, also known as Quakers; Abolition; the Underground Railroad, which the Quakers were instrumental in launching; life as a Union soldier in the Civil War; the Freedmen’s Bureau; and Reconstruction, that period following the war when the south had fallen into great dis-repair. Also prevalent in this third book is a bit of history regarding the origin of the Ku Klux Klan, a hate group that formed during the Reconstruction period.
 
Although I did not appreciate history as a young girl, as an older adult, I’m quite fascinated by it. History itself is a great teacher. Learning about it can be everything from exhilarating to depressing, challenging and yet exciting. It is my prayer that as you read my books, you’ll not only find them entertaining, but also inspiring and uplifting. I aim to encourage, not discourage. Much of history—if we dwell on it—can be disheartening, but focusing our hearts and minds on Christ gives us courage and confidence. Let us learn from history, but let us look to the future with hope in our hearts.
 
With love and a prayer for God’s best blessings,
 
Shar
 
 

My Review

 

Somehow this is the first book that I have read by Sharlene MacLaren, and I definitely feel as though I have been missing out! Historical fiction is one of my favorite genres because I believe that we can and should learn from the past and use it to not only inform the present but also to help us move forward in faith. Granted, some events from the past are ones that we would rather forget, but to do so would be to stop learning from them and thus risk repeating them. American slavery comes to mind. We recall its horrors and its official end but sometimes tend to forget about the ensuing period, which ultimately culminated in the Civil Rights movement a century later. Reconstruction in the South was a time of immense change and challenges, something that Sharlene MacLaren masterfully addresses in “A Love to Behold”, book 3 in the Forever Freedom series.

Lydia Albright arrives in Charleston, South Carolina in August 1867 to fulfill God’s calling to serve as a teacher at a newly-constructed school for black children. The school is sponsored by a local church, and the way in which the community is divided over the school provides the main conflict. What surprised me the most was that so many citizens were in favor of or at least reconciled to the existence of the school in what I think of as a bastion city of the South. MacLaren adeptly portrayed how some people accepted that the Civil War was over and that times were changing, whereas the more intransigent members of society continued to rebel. The Ku Klux Klan plays an important role in this novel, and it was both frightening and informative to read about their perspective. What I most appreciated was the inclusion of characters such as Lewis, who forms a bridge between the diehard and progressive mentality, and Luetta, whose intelligence battles against years of abuse and neglect. In many ways, this is a novel of finding balance, and clearly the best way to do so is to follow the Lord’s leading in spite of the obstacles that stand in our way—a timely message for all of us.

I received a complimentary copy of this book through CelebrateLit and was not required to post a favorable review. All opinions are my own.


Blog Stops

 

Reading Is My SuperPower, January 22

Maureen’s Musings, January 22

Jeanette’s Thoughts, January 23

Genesis 5020, January 23

Jennifer Sienes: Where Crisis and Christ Collide, January 24

Babbling Becky L’s Book Impressions, January 24

Splashes of JoyJanuary 25

Blossoms and Blessings, January 25

Happily Managing a Household of Boys, January 26

Mary Hake, January 26

Godly Book Reviews, January 27

Daysong ReflectionsJanuary 27

Truth and Grace Homeschool Academy, January 28

Robin is Bookish, January 28

My Devotional Thoughts, January 29

Locks, Hooks and Books, January 29

The Becca Files, January 30

For the Love of LiteratureJanuary 30

Texas Book-aholic, January 31

Debbie’s Dusty Deliberations, January 31

Abba’s Prayer Warrior Princess, February 1

Janices book reviews, February 1

A Baker’s Perspective, February 2

Bibliophile Reviews, February 3

Carpe Diem, February 4

Bigreadersite, February 4

 

Giveaway

 

 
To celebrate her tour, Sharlene is giving away a grand prize of a $20 Starbucks gift card!!
 
Be sure to comment on the blog stops for nine extra entries into the giveaway! Click the link below to enter. https://promosimple.com/ps/d8d2/a-love-to-behold-celebration-tour-giveaway