Reviewed by Phee Paradise
Maid to Match
By Deeanne Gist
Tillie Reese faces the dilemma of many modern women. Career or family? Rewarding work or love? Serving God outside the home or spending her days with children? But Tillie is not a modern woman. It’s 1898 and she’s a maid at the Biltmore, the mansion home of the Vanderbilts.
In Maid to Match, Gist tells a timeless story about people who face the same issues as we do today, and sets it in a fascinating world none of us have ever experienced. Her research is apparent in the detailed descriptions of the life of the servants, as well as the house and its owners. But it is far from tedious. The setting serves as a background to a love story that develops as two sympathetic characters struggle with different goals.
Tillie’s mother has groomed her from childhood to be a lady’s maid. She gets her chance after serving as head parlormaid when Mrs. Vanderbilt’s maid returns to France. She works to prove herself worthy of the position, to the exclusion of everything else, even the handsome new useful man who is clearly interested in her. Mack, on the other hand, has different goals. He is working at the Biltmore in order to save enough money to support his orphan siblings. But he falls in love with Tillie and believes she will give up her dreams to marry him.
Although the romance is at the forefront of the plot, the themes supersede it. Both Tillie and Mack want to serve God and struggle with where and how He wants them to do that. They interact with good people, selfish people and evil people. They see a lot of suffering, but seek different ways to alleviate it. Tillie struggles with materialism, while Mack struggles with his temper.
I loved this story, especially the world of the Biltmore servants. While I haven’t been to the Biltmore, I have visited other homes of the wealthy from that period. I was able to picture the life of the servants, and by extension that of the Vanderbilt’s. It’s a fascinating world, almost a separate society and culture from the people in the town.
But what I did not enjoy about the book was the romance. Apparently, these staid Victorians played a lot of parlor games that include quite a bit of kissing – all in fun. Tillie and Mack participate in the games, which afford them an opportunity to begin a physical relationship. Although they never go beyond kissing, Gist’s descriptions were graphic enough to make me uncomfortable. After the first few encounters, I skipped the descriptions. It wasn’t the kiss itself that disturbed me, but Tillie’s – or Mack’s – physical and emotional response to it. I prefer milder love scenes.
Overall, though, I recommend the book for lovers of romance, history, inspiration and just good story telling.
Pros: Excellent historical descriptions with sympathetic characters who find ways to serve God and do good in a difficult world. Nice love story with a good ending.
Cons: Physical descriptions of love scenes are a little bit more graphic than you might expect in a Christian novel.
ABOUT THE AUTHOR:
Squeezed betwixt-and-between all this, she read romance novels by the truckload and even wrote a couple of her own. While those unpublished manuscripts rested on the shelf, she founded a publishing corporation for the purpose of developing, producing and marketing products that would reinforce family values, teach children responsibility and provide character building activities.
After a few short months of running her publishing company, Gist quickly discovered being a "corporate executive" was not where her gifts and talents lie. In answer to Gist’s fervent prayers, God sent a mainstream publisher to her door who licensed her parenting I Did It!® product line and committed to publish the next generation of her system, thus freeing Gist to return to her writing.
Eight months later, she sold A Bride Most Begrudging to Bethany House Publishers. Since that debut, her very original, very fun romances have rocketed up the bestseller lists and captured readers everywhere. Add to this two consecutive Christy Awards, two RITA nominations, rave reviews, and a growing loyal fan base, and you’ve got one recipe for success.
Her 2010 books, Beguiled and Maid To Match are now available for order.
Gist lives in Texas with her husband of twenty-seven years and their two border collies. They have four grown children. Visit her blog to find out the most up-to-the-minute news about Dee.
ABOUT THE BOOK
From the day she arrived at the Biltmore, Tillie Reese is dazzled, by the riches of the Vanderbilts and by Mack Danvers, a mountain man turned footman. When Tillie is enlisted to help tame Mack's rugged behavior by tutoring him in proper servant etiquette, the resulting sparks threaten Tillie's efforts to be chosen as Edith Vanderbilt's lady's maid, After all, the one rule of the house is no romance below stairs.
But the stakes rise even higher when Mack and Tillie become entangles in a cover-up at the town orphanage. They could both lose their jobs, their aspirations...their hearts.
If you would like to read the first chapter of Maid to Match, go HERE.
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Monday, June 21, 2010
Reviewed by Phee Paradise