3 out of 4 stars
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The Deblue household is so rife with tension that eighteen-year-old Autumn is desperately trying to escape the unhappiness her and her father, Edmund, share. Edmund refuses to allow Autumn to attend college, drive a car, or even speak to their neighbors. Autumn can no longer tolerate the oppression. She runs away from her home in Nebraska to become a personal companion to the wealthy Lady Cannon in Michigan.
Doris Cannon dreads the idea of misleading a young woman into believing that she is seeking a personal companion for herself. What she really needs is a guardian for her orphaned granddaughter, Summer. Lady Cannon is Summer’s only living relative, and her health is steadily deteriorating. She needs someone she can trust to manage her estate and serve as Summer’s guardian once she is called to her final resting place. Autumn appears to be the perfect fit, but Lady Cannon cannot be sure until she tests the depths of Autumn’s loyalty and commitment.
Autumn Frost by M.D. Schlatter is a tangled web of secrets harbored by Autumn, Lady Cannon, Edmund, and even Autumn’s deceased mother. The web of secrets slowly unravels as the characters become better acquainted. Autumn becomes a cherished member of Lady Cannon’s household. Edmund develops a friendship with his new farmhand, James, who also harbors a secret that will have a startling impact on the lives of Autumn and Edmund. While James struggles with the decision to share his secret with Edmund, he helps his employer unearth clues as to Autumn’s whereabouts.
Schlatter’s first novel in the Seasons of the Heart series is a story of love, relationships, personal growth, and faith. Autumn Frost is a Christian fiction novel that will be most appreciated and enjoyed by those who believe in God’s love and guiding hand. Lady Cannon frequently seeks her Lord’s advice and often quotes scripture in conversation. Schlatter uses her characters to provide a general explanation of Christianity, including the need to ask Jesus to forgive one’s sins, the story of Christmas, and the fact that God is everywhere and in everything. Readers who enjoy being reminded of God’s love and Jesus’s sacrifice will likely find great enjoyment in following Autumn along her journey.
As the story unfolds, it is unclear if the Lord will shelter Autumn in Michigan or if Edmund will be led to find her. Schlatter provides the reader with both Autumn and Edmund’s thoughts, feelings, and motives. I found myself simultaneously wanting Edmund to find Autumn to potentially make amends and hoping he wouldn’t find any meaningful clues so Autumn could maintain her newfound happiness. My mixed emotions are evidence of Schlatter’s excellent writing; I was able to sympathize with each character because I was able to connect with all of them.
The only thing I found disconcerting about Autumn’s tale is a confession of love from a man on the day she meets him. He prays to God to give him Autumn’s heart. The speed with which this occurs is unrealistic. Unfortunately, this is the first of two romantic relationships that come about without any development. The abrupt exclamations of love are disappointing because the evolution of the two relationships would have been enjoyable to follow.
Schlatter does a marvelous job of unraveling secrets, developing her characters, and sharing basic Christian tenants. I thoroughly enjoyed the book from the first page to the last and look forward to the sequel. I would happily give Autumn Frost four stars, but additional editing is needed, and the romantic relationships would be better if they were more developed. Although numerous, the editing errors are minor and limited to mistakes that do not significantly detract from the story: missing commas, commas where they aren’t needed, and the occasional mistyped word like continual instead of continuously. Primarily as a result of the aforementioned errors, I must give Autumn Frost 3 out of 4 stars.
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