Friday, May 16, 2014

Review: Echoes of Mercy by Kim Vogel Sawyer

Book Cover and Synopsis:
When a suspicious accident occurs at the famous Dinsmore Chocolate Factory in Sinclair, Kansas, Caroline Lang goes undercover as a factory worker to investigate the circumstances surrounding the event and how the factory treats its youngest employees—the child workers. Caroline’s fervent faith, her difficult childhood, and compassionate heart drove her to her job as an investigator for the Labor Commission and she is compelled to see children freed from such heavy adult responsibilities, to allow them to pursue an education.

Oliver Dinsmore, heir to the Dinsmore candy dynasty, has his own investigation to conduct. Posing as a common worker known as “Ollie Moore,” he aims to find out all he can about the family business before he takes over for his father. Caroline and Oliver become fast friends, but tension mounts when the two find themselves at odds about the roles of child workers. Hiding their identities becomes even more difficult when fate brings them together over three children in desperate need. When all is revealed, will the truth destroy the love starting to grow between them? 

My source for book: Review Copy
My Thoughts:
For some reason I generally have a hard time identifying with female investigators in historic fiction, so I was thrilled to discover that Carrie is not like most investigators that I've previously encountered. Though she is determined to do her job to the best of her ability, she doesn't have an uppity air of trying to prove herself in a man's world. She's capable of getting things done, but she doesn't let the job define her. The balance between work and personal interests is well done, with much of her free time being spent trying to help three underprivileged children that she meets and ultimately gets tangled up with, both in emotion and responsibility.

The point of view shifts back and forth between Carrie and Ollie, and both perspectives are equally interesting and entertaining, easily keeping my attention. The idea that both of them are working "undercover" in the factory--for completely different reasons--is fun, and it adds a bit of amusing drama when their attraction becomes clear. Neither of them is able to be completely truthful about who they are, but they are still able to form a tentative friendship.

In addition to Carrie's and Ollie's perspectives, there are also some smaller sections told from the viewpoint of two supporting characters. While these characters themselves are generally well written, unfortunately their perspectives weren't quite as interesting to me. (One is the villain, and the other is a young girl whose immature--though authentic--actions began to irk me somewhat after a while.) However, I do have to admit that things came together at the end in a way that I didn't see coming, and it ultimately wouldn't have been possible, or as dramatic, without the rotating perspectives.

Overall, this is a solid story that I enjoyed quite a lot. The interaction between Ollie and Carrie is fun; I liked seeing how their relationship slowly grew despite their differences of opinion on some subjects. I especially liked when they joined forces and started sneaking around to uncover the truth regarding the mystery at the factory. If you enjoy historical novels with a bit of mystery, this one is most definitely worth a look. Come on, it's set in a chocolate factory! That alone makes it pretty hard to resist! :)

My Rating: 4.5 stars

Thanks to the publisher (Waterbrook) for providing me with a review copy via NetGalley.

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