Kilpack, Josi. A Heart Revealed. Salt Lake: Shadow Mountain, 2015. ISBN-13: 978-1-60907-990-1. $15.99 USD.
Despite having enjoyed a couple of Josi Kilpack’s Proper Romances, I took a while to get around to her first one, because I heard it dealt with some darker themes. However, I found myself coming back to it recently, deciding to give it a chance.
And despite the fact that this was Kilpack’s first published romance, I found it very well-written with exemplary character development. There are a few minor anachronisms in terms of the manners of the time, and the language of the period, but it won’t be obvious to anyone who’s not a stickler for historical details, and wants a richly told story about redemption and change.
As Amber is the focal point for most of the story, I found her development very well-done. It can be hard to make someone who is callous and superficial and suddenly loses it all seem sympathetic, but you genuinely feel for her, as the world as she knows it is turned upside down, and almost everyone, including her own parents, rejects and ostracizes her. And in portraying her condition, Kilpack makes her relatable to any modern person who is different and has been treated ill by their society, while also adding the realistic, but grossly unfair fact that parent-child relationships throughout much of history have been distant at best, and with Amber’s best assets as a marriageable woman to benefit her family gone, they too treat her terribly.
Thomas is the type of hero I wish was more popular in romances. He is incredibly compassionate, being the only one who supported Amber when she fell from grace, and proved his love for her, even when she herself felt unworthy of it. Their relationship grows through their assessment of each others’ character and worth, and he is able to look past her physical deficiencies, in a rare reversal on the “Beauty and the Beast” trope.