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Minnesota Brothers by Lena Nelson Dooley

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Review of Minnesota Brothers

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The Advocate

Minnesota Brothers
by Lena Nelson Dooley

Reviewed by Sheryl Root

"...provides a fascinating look at the lives of Swedish immigrants settling in Minnesota during the late 1800's."

I thoroughly enjoyed reading Minnesota Brothers by Lena Nelson Dooley. A compilation of four previously published Heartsong Presents titles, it provides a fascinating look at the lives of Swedish immigrants settling in Minnesota during the late 1800’s.

The Other Brother: Olida Sandstrom travels to America to marry her childhood sweetheart, Lars Nilsson. But it is Lars’s older brother, Gustaf, who meets her ship and shocks her with the news that Lars has eloped with another woman. Can Olina get past her pain and learn to trust that God still has a good and perfect plan for her life?

His Brother’s Castoff: August Nilsson fell in love with Anna Jensen the first time he saw her. But it was his older brother, Gustaf, who initially caught her eye. Now that Anna is unattached again, can August get past his jealousy and recognize that Anna is more than his brother’s castoff?

Double Deception: Brothers Ollie and Lowell Jensen are also best friends. That is, until beautiful Rissa Le Blanc comes to town and captures the hearts of both young men. However, all is not as it seems with Rissa—she has more than a few secrets to hide. Will the brothers allow their feelings for her to drive a permanent wedge between them?

Gerda’s Lawman: Gerda Nilsson is thrilled that her brothers have found wives and started families. But she is beginning to wonder if she will ever have a home and family of her own. Then Frank Daggett rides into town and Gerda finds herself with feelings she’s never experienced before. However, she knows her feelings cannot be God’s will for her because Frank is not a believer. Is Gerda’s faith strong enough to trust God even when she finds it hard to understand His plan for her life?

I loved the strong heroines in these stories, with my favorites being Olina and Anna. Each one has a desire for independence, yet Lena portrays this realistically within the historical context. While Olina, Anna, and Gerda each end up running their own business, as single women in the late 1800’s they are still very much under their family’s protective watch. Lena’s heroes are wonderful too—undoubtedly masculine with a propensity for pride or stubbornness that makes them even more endearing as you see the Lord begin to deal with their hearts.

The snippets of historical information Lena includes were fascinating. I don’t know why it was so surprising to me that women in the 1800’s also wanted to be current with the latest fashions, but I loved the fact that Olina and Gerda pored over Godey’s Lady’s Books and the new magazine, Ladies Home Journal, to keep up with current fashion.

Faith is a clear and authentic element woven into each story. While it’s common in Christian romance to show God working in the life of a main character who is an unbeliever or a believer who has strayed away from their faith, it seems less common to have both main characters who are already believers in Christ. Therefore, I really appreciated My Brother’s Castoff, where August and Anna are both believers struggling to find God’s help—August with his jealousy, and Anna with her fear of being hurt again.

If you enjoy historical romance and stories that draw you into a close-knit community of faith, then Minnesota Brothers is a book you won’t want to miss.

Sheryl RootSheryl Root is Partner Database Manager at OneHope, a non-profit organization whose mission is to reach every child with God’s Word. She’s also a writer and a reader of everything she can get her hands on … books, blogs, magazines. In other words, she’s both a data geek and a book nerd. She loves to be able to support Christian authors and spread the word on great books and is a member of American Christian Fiction Writers, a wonderful community of published and yet to be published writers. You can follow her on Twitter at @Sheryl_Root.