Friday, May 13, 2011

The Lightkeeper's Ball by Colleen Coble

The Lightkeeper's Ball by Colleen Coble
Copyright 2011
Thomas Nelson - Historical with a touch of Romance/Christian/Mystery
292 pages

I'm going to go with the ultra-casual review method because this book is kind of twisty. It's 1910 (but the author didn't bother to share that bit of info; I figured it out by looking up the return of Halley's Comet, which is mentioned several times, and early plane flight). Olivia Bennett is 25, her father is dead, the family is running out of money. Big sis Eleanor was set to get hitched to her father's business partner's son (got that?), Harrison Bennett. But, when Eleanor tragically dies under suspicious circumstances, the elder Bennett says, "Deal off. Unless you'll let your other daughter marry my boy. Because, you know, we've got the money and you've got the respectability."

Oh, those crazy early 20th-century fusspots. Olivia is naturally miffed but she's sure Eleanor was murdered. So, utilizing a convenient "family title", she calls herself Lady Devonworth, packs up her bags and heads from New York to Mercy Falls, California, even though there's a murderer in California and plenty of fat, wealthy men to marry nearby.

What do diamond mines, a ball to earn funds for a lightkeeper and an airplane have to do with Olivia? And, is someone trying to dim her lights for good or are the culprits after Harrison? Is Harrison good or bad? Where is God in all this mess?

What I liked about The Lightkeeper's Ball:

Stuff happens. The Lightkeeper's Ball is a busy, plot-heavy book, so it's full of action. It's the third book in a series but stands alone well. That's always good. I also love the cover, even though it is so wrong it makes me feel like "The Sucker Who Fell for the Red-Dress Cover." I finished it but was tempted to give up, several times. At some point I finally decided I was going to finish it and enjoy it, tough luck if I couldn't buy into the story.

What I disliked about The Lightkeeper's Ball:

Unfortunately, I have to confess that I never, ever managed to get to the point of suspension of disbelief. Not even close. I was actually quite stunned to find out the author is a Rita award-winning author and this is her 18th title. This author could seriously use a reality check. The book reads like a list of plot points with a lot of fluffy fun in between. There were way too many dramatic incidents that I just flat could not buy into. I'm tempted to write about them but I'm sure Colleen Coble has plenty of fans and I don't want to spoil the book for them. It simply did not work for me.

Cover thoughts:

Grrrr. That is not a ballgown from 1910 and it makes me feel very, very pissy. I was totally confused until I looked up the earliest 20th-century return of Halley's Comet and then google-image searched dresses and ball gowns in 1910. The ball is a masquerade, but it's not right for that, either, since the heroine dresses as Juliet. Total cover fail.

Let's end this on an upbeat note, with a pretty kitty pic. I just love kitty pics, don't you?

©2011 Nancy Horner. All rights reserved. If you are reading this post at a site other than Bookfoolery and Babble or its RSS feed, you are reading a stolen feed. Email for written permission to reproduce text or photos.


  1. OMG. HOW did we just spend a few days together and not discuss this?! I read one of her books and had the very same suspension of belief issue!!!! oh well.
    How was your trip?

  2. Boo on cover fails. I hate it when they get the facts wrong on the cover.

  3. I loved your take on this and how well you stated your 'dislikes.' I also really appreciated even your comment on the cover. The dress is beautiful BUT, like you stated, stay true to the time, the feel, the characters, the place - - you know, the plot!

    Are you safe from the flood waters? We're watching things carefully for you and thinking of you!

  4. I don't think this would be a book for me because I really really need to be able to suspend my sense of disbelief for something like this to work. I also don't think I like that the book is so stuffed with action sequences. I think I will pass on this one, but I did enjoy reading your great review!

  5. At least the kitty is accurately historically portrayed.

  6. Care,

    Oh, wow. That would have been such a fun discussion, too!!! I wish I'd known you'd read one of her books. The trip was okay. Very tiring. Glad to be home!!


    Me, too. I like accuracy in a cover. And, I hate getting sucked in by something pretty then finding out it wasn't even close.


    Thanks! I noticed Brittanie of A Book Lover (link in my sidebar) liked this book. I figured the author must have plenty of fans to manage 18 published books but it was just so unrealistic, in my opinion.

    We're fine. Most of the people being flooded in our area, at the moment, are in flood zones that have taken plenty of hits. It will get worse but we're nowhere near the water. Thanks for asking!


    I wouldn't call them "action sequences" so much as I'd say the author keeps the plot moving, although not in a way I consider believable. I've found that sometimes I can enjoy a book in which I can't suspend my disbelief, but it's a rare thing. Thanks! I'm glad you enjoyed my review!


    LOL That she is.

  7. Great review Nancy! I think the same things that bothered you about the book would get on my nerves too. I love historical fiction but I hate it when you don't know exactly when it happens. Give me dates people! :) It's just easier for me to get into the setting you know.

  8. Iliana,

    I agree 100%. I prefer that the dates are stated up front, when I read historical fiction (or, at least, described accurately on the cover). When I don't know the time period and it's relevant, it's more likely I'll abandon a book. As you said, it's easier to get into the book if you know the time and place!

  9. I was so disappointed in this one. I never bought into Olivia's deception. And that Harrison believed it all without question was completely implausible. I love the setting, as I'm from Northern California and familiar with the Ferndale area which is where this series is based. But the book itself was disappointing.
    2 Kids and Tired Books

  10. Holly,

    Yep, same here. I didn't think the deception worked and the way Harrison fell for it made him Too Stupid to Live (even though he was a pretty okay character, otherwise). There was a point toward the end of the book that made absolutely no sense. Someone showed up who *should* have given Olivia away by calling her by name. I can't remember who it was, but that just made me roll my eyes.

    Very cool about the setting! I'm not familiar with that area at all.


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