Thursday, May 19, 2011

Book Review: The Lightkeeper's Ball by Colleen Coble

The Lightkeeper's Ball (A Mercy Falls Novel)
From the back cover:

It is the dawn of a new century and Olivia Stewart is heiress to an empire.  Her family numbers among the Four Hundred-- those considered the wealthiest and most distinguished in America.  Unfortunately their wealth has nearly disappeared, and now their security rests upon teh Stewart daughters' marrying well.

Olivia's sister, Eleanor, was engaged to Harrison Bennett, one of the nation's wealthiest men, but has since died.  Now the pressure is on Olivia to take her place, despite her suspicions about Eleanor's fiance'.  Using her family's long-forgotten English title, Olivia travels to Mercy Falls, California, as Lady Devonworth, hoping to learn more before committing to marriage.  There she finds that Eleanor's death was no accident.  And Harrison is not the man she thought he would be.

When Mercy Falls holds a charity ball masquerade to raise funds for the new lighthouse, secrets-- and truths long hidden-- will be revealed.  But can Harrison really love Olivia when he finds her true identity?  Can she live with the repercussions of failing her family, or will she finally realize that nothing-- not money, family, or romance-- will ever compare to God's unconditional love?

*          *          *

The Lightkeeper's Ball is the third book in Colleen Coble's Mercy Falls series, however, it is the first I have read of Ms. Coble's work. Although it's the third title, it stands on its own just fine, and I never felt disoriented in joining the series at this point. 

Ball is a pleasant enough novel, weaving chaste Christian romance with a bit of family mystery and a murder plot.  Colleen writes fairly well, although occasionally her style succumbed to a few clichéd moments and a little predictability. 

I enjoyed her philosophy on God’s gifts to us and how we need to work those out in our lives.  It’s particularly appropriate in my life, as my family gave up quite a bit 5 years ago to pursue my husband’s goal of being a professional pilot.  Like the character Harrison Bennett, my husband also had a fine job in which he performed well, but his passion was in aviation.  We took many risks and made sacrifices, but by God’s grace we are now a pilot’s family.  Coble’s belief that God enables us with gifts and plants passions in our hearts for those talents is spot-on.  We need to be careful as we “follow our hearts”, as our hearts can sometimes lead us astray, but with proper prayer and guidance, I believe our passions can help in the ultimate working out of God’s will in the world.

Like another novel I read recently that was set in early 1900s California, Lightkeeper’s Ball truly reflects that tumultuous era of change and many struggles that women had.  Coble’s Olivia Stewart is a traditional upper-class woman, but she also yearns for modern things like flying in airplanes and having the right to vote.  I liked how these issues were presented in a way that didn’t require a heavy tone of feminism or male-bashing.  Coble held on to her Christian beliefs in her writing, but she still struck an appropriate modern tone as well. 

The Lightkeeper’s Ball was a quick read, and fans of light Christian fiction should enjoy this.  I didn’t find it particularly memorable, but it’s a pleasant story with a few interesting twists and turns at the end.  It would certainly make a fine addition to your church library, and would be a good choice for older teens and up.

*          *           *

While you're here, you may enjoy this informative interview with author Colleen Coble:

What do I have to offer this world?  Can I really be loved for who I am on the outside and not for how others view me?  Where does my true significance come from?  In her third installment of the Mercy Falls series, The Lightkeeper’s Ball, award-winning author Colleen Coble will answer these questions while leading her readers down a path of betrayal, desire and ultimate fulfillment. 

The Mercy Falls series centers on a small town in California and its lighthouse.  Coble uses the lighthouse as a reminder that Jesus is our lighthouse always leading us home.  In her latest addition to the series, the main characters must wrestle with their desire to find fulfillment in more than their work and money while being hunted by those who are holding on to resentment and unforgiveness. 

With murder, suspense and desire, readers will enjoy peeling back the layers and discovering that this is more than your average romance novel.  They will be perched on the edge of their seats trying to solve a mystery while discovering that the true worth of an individual never comes from a name or accomplishments.  True worth can only be found in Christ.

An interview with Colleen Coble, author of The Lightkeeper’s Ball

Q: Did you always dream of becoming a writer?  Why did you choose the romance genre?

I wrote my first story in the first grade.  It was about a horse that had twin colts.  The teacher praised it and the writing seed was planted.  I love illustrating God’s love through romance.  I especially love the suspense I put into all my books as well.  I have a strong streak of justice and it plays out in the suspense element.

Q: What inspired you to write a historical series based in the early 1900’s?  What would you have enjoyed about living in that time period and what would you have found the most difficult?

I happened to read an article about the Gilded Age and it mentioned how that era was so similar to today’s.  I was intrigued with that, plus I wanted to choose a time period that wouldn’t be too much of a departure from my contemporary books.  In that era, there were still cars and telephones!

I would have loved the simpler lifestyle.  However, I would miss my jeans!  How vain.

Q: Society at the turn of the century was very preoccupied with appearances and impressing other people.  How is that not so different than our society today and how can we keep from falling into that same trap?

That’s exactly right!  The parallels between the two eras are astounding.  I’ve been at the cancer hospital this week with a dear friend, and it was a reminder of how fragile this life is.  We seek THINGS when God wants us to seek Him.  We need to keep our eyes set on eternity and remember that THIS life is the real dream.  When we reach heaven, we will finally start to really live.

Q: Bitterness and unforgiveness led to the death of Olivia’s sister.  Why is it so important to forgive those who have wronged us?

An unforgiving spirit hurts us much more than the person we hate.  It makes us ugly and crowds out the love we want to show other people.  God is love, not hate.  Bitterness is the very opposite of the attitude God wants us to have.

Q: This is the third book in your Mercy Falls series.  Addie and Katie were the main characters in your first two books.  Olivia was given a true gift in the friendship of Katie and Addie.  What does it take to find trustworthy and loyal friends?  Why do you think that we all desire to find friends like these?

You have to first be a friend.  You have to be open and giving of yourself to have those kinds of friends.  A true friend tells you the truth in love, and that’s an important component of the give and take of real friendship.

Q: What do you hope that your readers will take away from reading The Lightkeeper’s Ball?

I hope the readers who feel they have to earn love will take away the realization that their true worth is that Jesus loves them and died for them.  They are valuable beyond comprehension.  When we can step into the role of daughters and sons, we can realize our true potential.

The Lightkeeper’s Ball by Colleen Coble

Thomas Nelson/April 19, 2011
ISBN: 978-1-5955-4268-7/304 pages/paperback/$14.99



  1. Great review Laura, I think might really enjoy this book, I'll see if I can borrow it from my local library.

  2. Love how this book connected with your life experience--thanks for a helpful review. I also enjoyed this book, especially the parts where the author wove in historical details. It seemed very well researched. I'm anxious to pick up the first two in the series--I just happened to read this one first.

  3. 4granted - Thanks for your comment. I've got the first two books and need to read them as well!




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