~ About the Book ~
After the tragic death of her husband, Aven Norgaard is beckoned to give up her life in Norway to become a housekeeper in the rugged hills of nineteenth-century Appalachia. Upon arrival, she finds herself in the home of her late husband’s cousins—three brothers who make a living by brewing hard cider on their three-hundred-acre farm. Yet even as a stranger in a foreign land, Aven has hope to build a new life in this tight-knit family.
But her unassuming beauty disrupts the bond between the brothers. The youngest two both desire her hand, and Aven is caught in the middle, unsure where—and whether—to offer her affection. While Haakon is bold and passionate, it is Thor who casts the greatest spell upon her. Though Deaf, mute, and dependent on hard drink to cope with his silent pain, Thor possesses a sobering strength.
As autumn ushers in the apple harvest, the rift between Thor and Haakon deepens and Aven faces a choice that risks hearts. Will two brothers’ longing for her quiet spirit tear apart a family? Can she find a tender belonging in this remote, rugged, and unfamiliar world?
A haunting tale of struggle and redemption, Sons of Blackbird Mountain is a portrait of grace in a world where the broken may find new life through the healing mercy of love.
Genre: Historical Romance
Series: Blackbird Mountain
Release date: 3 July 2018
Publisher: Thomas Nelson
~ Excerpt ~
Bowing her head, Aven shook water from her fingers. “I don’t know what to do,” she finally whispered.
With a cool touch Cora lifted Aven’s chin. “Don’t you be hard on yesself. A girl all on her own learns to survive, and I’ve a hunch you seen a lot in your days. Lord knows you’re far from home.” She touched Aven’s shoulder, and it was a motherly comfort. So tender and sure that Aven’s throat tightened again. “He done frightened you last night and you ain’t need be ashamed of that.”
Aven unwound the bow that tied her apron and pulled it loose.
“And if it’s after Thor that you’re worryin’, rest in ease that the man done been through a whole heap worse.” She smiled a little. “He already on his feet again.”
Nodding, Aven tried to hold on to that, but it was more than the wound of his body. It was something deeper. “I questioned his character. I made presumptions of his intentions that were far from the truth. He had been drinking . . . and was so forceful that I—I . . .”
Cora pulled Aven near and wrapped her up in a tight hug. The sensation was startling, so rarely had she been held this way. Emotions washed over her until she was crying again. Aven used her apron to wipe her eyes.
“He a good man,” Cora said softly. “But as you might’a seen, he a broken man trying to bind himself back up with the one thing that be tearin’ him down. It’s the same thing that put his pappy in the ground, and it was loss that shook us all. When Jarle Norgaard lost his wife, he didn’t know how to come back from that amount of broken. And Thor . . .” Slowly, Cora shook her head. “He walkin’ that same rutted path. He know what the Good Book says ’cause he reads it. He know he ain’t supposed to put his trust in anything but the good Lord.”
The pump dripped as slow and steady as Cora’s gentle words.
“But a man gotta want it. Ain’t nobody able to want it for him.” Her face pinched with sadness. “It a cryin’ shame what Thor be doin’ to himself, but if you ask me”—a light hit her eyes and a smile of hope played at the corners of her mouth—”he got some fight in him left. It ain’t too late yet. He don’t have to follow his pappy all the way to the grave.”
Aven clung to those words. “You believe there’s such hope for him?”
“Yes, child. But he need us. He need people. It may seem elseways ’cause he pushes ’em away. But he do that ’cause most don’t take the time to hear him.”
So Thor was giving up. And why wouldn’t he? When others treated him the way she had. Assuming him a wretch when he’d simply been fighting past a voice that wouldn’t work. Twisting her fingers together, Aven glanced to the house, then back to Cora. “Please tell me what I can do.”
“Just look at him.” Shielding her face from the rising sun, Cora stepped a touch nearer. “Look at his eyes, his face. See him. See him and be patient. You’ll never wonder.” She squeezed Aven’s hand, holding it in her cool one. “Spend but ten minutes getting to know Thor Norgaard and you’ll forget he silent. You’ll learn and hear things that most men don’t even know how to speak.”
Taken from “Sons of Blackbird Mountain” by Joanne Bischof
Copyright © 2018 by Joanne Bischof
Used by permission of http://www.thomasnelson.com/
~ Review ~
This story is utterly captivating: The setting, the plot, the characters—but most particularly Thor. From the beginning, he had a presence on the page that kept drawing me to him, and as the story developed, he captured me, heart and soul. Early on in the story, Aunt Cora advises Aven: “Look at his eyes, his face. See him. See him and be patient…Spend but ten minutes getting to know Thor Norgaard and you’ll forget he silent. You’ll learn and hear things that most men don’t even know how to speak.” How true that was! Watching Aven’s relationship with Thor grow throughout the story was beautiful in a way that burrowed deep, made all the more poignant by the way they learned to communicate with one another. There are some seriously memorable moments between these two!
But, of course, that’s only a part of this story. The Norgaard brothers make a very comfortable living by making hard cider, but Thor’s need to break his dependence on the drink means the brothers have to rethink their entire livelihood. Add in the simmering tension between Thor and Haakon that goes much deeper than love for the same woman, and the lingering racial and political tensions between the Norgaards and their closest neighbours, and you have a powder keg just waiting to be sparked.
I absolutely adore the gentle lyricism of Joanne Bischof’s writing and the way she somehow cocoons the reader in the world of her story. She doesn’t shrink from her characters’ brokenness or their faults, but grace and hope are found in greater measure. My heart is now equal parts anticipation and dread for what the conclusion of this duology will bring to these beloved characters!
I received a copy of this novel from the publisher. This has not influenced the content of my review, which is my honest and unbiased opinion.
~ Guest Video from Joanne Bischof ~
~ Giveaway ~
To celebrate her tour, Joanne is giving away
Grand prize of a country crate, a jar of apple butter, a bag of gummy berries, journal, bath salts, honey spoons, copper earrings, and a blackbird sign!!
Click below to enter. https://promosimple.com/ps/d140/sons-of-blackbird-mountain-celebration-tour-giveaway
~ About the Author ~
JOANNE BISCHOF is an ACFW Carol Award and ECPA Christy Award-winning author. She writes deeply layered fiction that tugs at the heartstrings. She was honored to receive the San Diego Christian Writers Guild Novel of the Year Award in 2014 and in 2015 was named Author of the Year by the Mount Hermon conference. Joanne’s 2016 novel, The Lady and the Lionheart, received an extraordinary 5 Star TOP PICK! from RT Book Reviews, among other critical acclaim. She lives in the mountains of Southern California with her three children.