Hello again, readers! Today I am reviewing the latest book published by one of my new favorite authors: Love Flies by Julia David. I suppose “new” is such a relative term that this statement might not be entirely accurate anymore; it’s been close to a year since I read Burgundy Gloves, my first book by David. Every time I pick up another of her books the writing strikes me as fresh, easy to read, and just plain enjoyable! I do have a few qualms with some of the content of this most recent one, but the writing itself is as good as ever. Before I give too much away in this intro, let’s get into the book’s details and review!
Title: Love Flies
Author: Julia David
Series: Leaving Lennhurst Asylum #2
Genre: Historical Romance, Christian
Synopsis: In 1867, bitter from the civil war, lawyer Reed Chapman is easily distracted, yet determined to have his land back. How did his simple plan to restore his family’s inheritance leave him driving away from Lennhurst Asylum, elbow to elbow with a beautiful patient in his charge? An unstable, madcap young woman who believes she is the heir to his land.
Patience Stevens spins with the adventure of leaving Lennhurst to find her childhood trees, lake and land. Confident to face the dark unknowns that took place there, she dreams of gardens and woodland homes for all her winged friends. Fortifying herself to face the horrors one by one, the revelations of her past collides with a new struggle in the form of handsome Reed Chapman. He seems overly concerned with her well-being and suddenly her heart is taken with his attention.
Can a gullible young woman from an insane asylum trust the ways of the heart? Is his declaration for her hand in marriage hasty or genuine? Her simple list of dreams seems so close she can almost touch them.
Is Reed Chapman to be her tender, passionate husband or her adversary? Can her child-like faith and hope survive this haunted wilderness without him?
Content Warnings: Allusions to intimacy between married couples, some non-graphic violence
It’s worth noting that although Love Flies is the second book in the Leaving Lennhurst Asylum series, it is also a standalone novel. You can easily read the books in either order, and there would only be one slight (and predictable) spoiler from reading Love Flies before Love Covers.
Surprisingly, I’m nearly at a loss for words for this one. The story is engaging; I was hooked early on, and I always wanted to know what happened next. The plot, characters, even the setting are unique but realistic. It’s interesting, and for the most part I enjoyed reading it. I appreciate the themes of something good eventually being found in the wake of tragedy, perseverance, the importance of personal growth, and reliance on God. The depictions of family are admirable, and friendships are genuine. As Patience fights to make or find her own place in a world she has never really been a part of, I couldn’t help but cheer for her and hope with her. As naive and illogical as she is, she is also incredibly endearing. Her childhood was very unusual, and it is understandable that she would come away from being raised in an asylum with a few strange ideas as well as a passion for helping those who have been overlooked. She learns a lot about the ‘real’ world in a short time, and her reliance on God anchors her even as she struggles to make unforeseen decisions and create her new life. One of those decisions is about her inconsistent relationship with Reed, the man who brings her from Lennhurst Asylum to the land that is rightfully hers, without telling her that he also has a past connection to the land she technically owns and that he desperately wants it for his own.
And yet, despite all that I enjoyed and despite how much I liked getting to know Patience and rooting for her, I keep wavering about whether I truly liked the book as a whole. The biggest reason is her counterpart: Reed Chapman. Reed is hard working, logical, dedicated (usually), has a sense of humor, wants to do what’s right (usually), and is a good friend. But he is also extremely selfish and short-sighted for the majority of the book, and he has an unreasonable temper. He responds with violence when he is afraid or upset. He doesn’t even attempt to control his emotions or reaction when someone crosses him, and this leads him to mistreat Patience on multiple occasions. Their arguments become disturbingly physical, and Reed fails to apologize for his actions until he is called out and realizes that the truth makes him look bad. I truly do not understand how Patience could fall in love with someone like Reed who repeatedly fails to listen to what she says, attempts to manipulate her, and ultimately hurts her both physically and emotionally, even if it is unintentional. I get that part of the plot is Reed’s change of character and coming to know God, but from my perspective, his change is too little too late. I don’t begrudge Patience the decisions she makes, but her generosity and ability to forgive stretch much higher than my own. Reed certainly has his good qualities and moments, too, but the negative ones are what stand out more to me.
It is going to take me a while to decide how much Reed’s actions detract from my enjoyment and appreciation of Love Flies. I want to say that I liked Love Flies a lot, but I am not sure that is entirely correct. It is more accurate to say that there are aspects that I really liked, and some that I was put off by. The premise and plot are genius, the side characters add depth, and I can’t help but root for Patience. At the same time, I am disturbed by Reed’s attitude and actions, and by the small size of his conscience even after his conversion. Although he does pray for forgiveness and acts kindly towards Patience as he gets to know her better, the portion of the book following his big prayer is too small to know if he really is changed or if he simply made an emotional plea and claim to change. Love Flies is a fairly quick read, and I recommend it to dedicated fans of Christian historical romance.
The author’s note at the end of Love Flies says that there is a third book coming to the series which will address a character mentioned in both Love Covers and Love Flies. She hasn’t been a main character in either book, but a mysterious friend from the past. I am intrigued by her and can’t wait to read her story, too! Julia David continues to come up with such unique romances set beautifully in the 1800s. Despite my dislike for Reed in Love Flies, I remain decidedly impressed by these books.
Question of the day: What is a book that you really enjoyed, except for one aspect or character? How did this affect your overall appreciation of the book?
Until the next chapter,
Disclaimer: I received a complimentary copy of this book from the author. I have happily provided my honest opinion.