Wednesday, February 25, 2015

Book Review: Elsa (The Secret Heritage Book 1) by Allison Brunning

Elsa (The Secret Heritage  Book 1)
by Allison Brunning
Publisher: Mountain Springs House
Published: Jan. 17, 2014

Amazon Synopsis:

Inspirational Historical Romance with a Touch of Aspergers Syndrome

Elsa is an inspirational historical romance story about a woman who unconditionally loves a man with Aspergers Syndrome in a time when Aspergers had yet been discovered. Allison Bruning, author of the Historical Fiction books, Calico and Bailey’s Revenge, offers her readers an inside look into the mind of man with Aspergers Syndrome and the life of the one who gives her heart to him.

All Elsa Garrett wants in life is to be Franklin’s wife. He’s asked her father for her hand and knows he has permission to ask her. Yet when and how would her boyfriend with Aspergers Syndrome ask the question?

When Franklin has a diabetic seizure all hope seems lost once Elsa learns Franklin can no longer marry her due to an obscure law in Ohio relating to his seizure. With the help of Franklin’s parents, Elsa has a plan. But will it work?

Lost in a society that doesn’t understand Franklin or why she would ever choose to be with him, Elsa comes face to face with death, destruction, and misfortune as she tries to clear her boyfriend’s name. With each step towards progress Elsa falls two steps behind. One simple task shifts her entire life towards a direction she could have never imagined. Alone, pregnant, and without her Franklin, is despair all she has to look forward to in her new life, or will fate finally bring them together?

Book Links

My Thoughts:

In the early 1900's in Ohio there was a a law that forbade a man (or woman) from obtaining a marriage licence if they were insane, an imbecile, epileptic or a drunkard. This was to protect future generations from having these bad qualities passed down.

Elsa Garrett and Franklin Raymond were in love. Franklin, however had some social issues where he didn't like to talk to people or be touched by them. There were many who thought he should be placed in an asylum and forgotten. But with Elsa, Franklin was the sweetest most gentle man one could imagine. She was able to calm him when he got agitated and he would allow her to touch him. All Franklin wanted to do was work at his father's company inventing machines and marry Elsa.

Elsa was at Dr Riley's office with her parents, her brother Henry and his wife, where Henry was being treated for a relapse of his terminal tuberculosis. In stumbled Franklin, shirtless, sweating and incoherent. Elsa's father thought he was drunk but Dr. Riley diagnosed him with diabetes after Elsa assisted Dr. Riley with an examination since Franklin wouldn't let the doctor near him. Franklin had ridden into town from the farm after working a long day in the field, and missing two meals to bring help for his brother who had had an accident while using the plow.

That evening there was to be a barn dance at which Franklin was planning on proposing to Elsa. By the time he recovered at home and woke up after the diabetes episode he realized he had missed the dance. He lay there in bed, heart-broken that now he could not propose to his beloved Elsa. This was another one of the quirks that Franklin dealt with. he found change difficult. Once he had made his mind up about something, very little could dissuade him from it. He had planned on proposing at the dance and the opportunity had passed.

Elsa is the first book in the Heritage Series. It is the tale of a woman in love with a man with high-functioning autism. Of course, the condition was never given a name in the book because at that time it didn't have one, but looking back now with our knowledge of the condition it's easy to tell that's what it was. This book was a refreshing look at the unconditional love and acceptance of an individual of a person with special needs.

Elsa is jam-packed with family drama. With the male-centred society at that time women tended to be more like chattel and had to do what their husbands told them. If their husbands did not provide enough for them to take care of them after they died, then the wives would lose their homes and end up relying on other family or out on the street. Women did what their husbands told them to do or they could be "disciplined" by their husbands.

The story of Elsa and Franklin is a beautiful one and full of unconditional love. Two people who want nothing more than to be husband and wife are met with an enormous number of obstacles. The twists and turns in the plot lines of this book brought insight into the main protagonist's characters as well as the way of life for women in that era.

I enjoyed particularly the character of Franklin because although he was faced with a severe disability - autism, he was extremely intelligent and given the appropriate support could function in society. I also appreciated his parents who went against all those who told them to institutionalize Franklin and forget him. They were able to see his potential and provide the support he required in order to function.

The language is fairly clean with only a few swear words appearing throughout the text. There are however one or two quite explicit lovemaking scenes which would have me categorize this book as "adult".

Elsa was an excellent example of historical fiction that held my attention from page one right to the last page. I would highly recommend it. I’m looking forward to book 2. I gave it 5 stars out of 5.

Thank you to the author for providing a copy of this book in exchange for a fair and honest review. A positive opinion is not required. All thoughts are my own.

About the Author:

Bestselling author Allison Bruning has always had a passion for the literary arts. She originally hails from Marion, Ohio but lives in Indianapolis, Indiana with her husband and their Australian Cattle Dog, Lakota Sioux. Allison is the author of four historical fiction series: Children of the Shawnee, The Secret Heritage, IrishTwist of Fate, and Cherokee Tears. 

Allison's educational background includes a BA in Theatre Arts with a minor in Anthropology from Sul Ross State University in Alpine, Texas. Allison received National Honor Society memberships in both Theatre Arts and Communication. She was also honored her sophomore year with admission into the All American Scholars register. She holds graduate hours in Cultural Anthropology and Education. In 2007, Allison was named Who's Who Among America's Educators. She is also the recipient of the Girl Scout Silver and Gold Awards. Allison received her Masters of Fine Arts in Creative Writing at Full Sail University on June 28, 2013.

She is an educator, writer, speaker, screenwriter, and scriptwriter. Allison's interests include Ohio Valley history, anthropology, travel, culture, history, camping, hiking, backpacking, spending time with her family, and genealogy.

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