Book review: 'Within the Dark Hills' is a sweet romance

By Shelby Scoffield

For the Deseret News

Published: Sunday, June 3 2012 5:00 a.m. MDT

"WITHIN THE DARK HILLS," by Sian Ann Bessey, Covenant Communications, $14.99, 197 pages (f)

“Within the Dark Hills” by Sian Ann Bessey is a sweet romance novel set in Wales during the mid-1800s. It is a quick read that will speak to young female readers.

Annie Morgan is a young chambermaid who works for a cruel and controlling master. When he makes unwanted advances toward Annie, she has no choice but to escape.

Running miles through the forest in a storm, Annie finally stops at the home of the Rev. and Mrs. Davies. Finding a temporary sanctuary at their home, Annie tries not to think about her tainted reputation and considers her options as both of her parents are dead and she doesn't have any siblings.

Evan Powell is a miner who dreams of moving to America. After his wife’s death, America seems out of the question as he struggles to provide for his daughter.

Desperately in need of a new identity and a new life, Annie agrees to marry Evan Powell. It is purely a marriage of convenience. Annie will care for Evan’s house and daughter. In return, he will provide her with food and housing.

As Annie and Evan get to know each other, their relationship starts to grow into something more. After disaster hits the small town, Annie’s past is revealed and her former master starts to seek her out.

Also, the community is in a bit of an uproar over the missionaries from a new church, The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, that talk about new scripture and eternal families, which appeals to both Annie and Evan.

“Within the Dark Hills” is an enjoyable read. Although the plot line is predictable, the love story is sweet and innocent.

Perhaps the most striking part of the book is Bessey’s descriptions of the mining town. She accurately describes the danger that a miner faced on a daily basis.

Bessey also gives vivid details about other cultures. Taking place in a small Welsh town, “Within the Dark Hills” captures the life of those living there in the 1800s.

“Within the Dark Hills” will be devoured by young women who dream of being rescued by Prince Charming. This novel is clean and devoid of foul language.

All in all, fans of Jane Austen novels will love “Within the Dark Hills.” It is a good read that could be finished in one sitting.

Shelby Scoffield is a graduate of Brigham Young University and a graduate student at California State University, Stanislaus.

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