Ashes and Lace by BJ Hoff

Book reviews are subjective. I tend to rate books not according to how “perfect” they are, seem to be, or are said to be in general but rather to how perfect they are to me.

Ashes and Lace by B.J. Hoff

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

(Click the title to find the book description/blurb.)

“Wear it to America,” Jane had said of the ring. “Wear it…and remember me and the Claddagh… Remember Ireland. For Ireland is not only where you come from, Terese Sheridan—Ireland is what you are.”

An unlikely group of people are essentially tied together from across the ocean in the mid-1800s. Prejudice, poverty, and seemingly impossible dreams are only some of the challenges they face in an Irish-American saga that continues in Ashes and Lace, a novel by author BJ Hoff.

This second half of the Song of Erin series is fittingly dramatic with characters that make themselves memorable. The story that began in Cloth of Heaven comes into more of its richness here. But I’ll confess that, as was the case in the first novel, much of the reading here felt like a setup for something else, to me. It took me quite a while to reconcile myself to it: “This isn’t a setup leading to a story. This is the story.” There’s a certain redundancy in a lot of it, as the author has a way of saying much at times while barely saying anything new. Still, she’ll say it in such a stirring way that you can’t be too bothered by it.

However, I did eventually become a little bothered by the overuse of italics. And my main concern was with a plot theme that I’ve never much cared for in ChristFic romance: “I’m so in love but can’t marry him/her because he/she isn’t a Christian.” It muddies the characters’ emotions and motives so that I never fully trust them. And while characters may need to get down to the nitty-gritty of their inner darkness to show their need for God, casting them in such a compellingly negative light doesn’t make them prime romantic characters to me. It makes me feel like they need more time to grow and figure out who they are before they turn their focus toward marrying somebody else.

Still, I did enjoy the fitting drama and richness of this moving saga. And given that this author did also write the absolutely magnificent American Anthem, I’ve every intention of reading more from her in the future.


Here’s my review of the first Song of Erin novel, Cloth of Heaven.


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