Today I am reviewing "The Scent of Lilacs" by Ann H. Gabhart! I absolutely loved this book and loved reading about Jocie growing up in Hollyhill. After visiting Ann H. Gabhart's website I saw that "The Scent of Lilacs" is only the first of three books written about Hollyhill! The second is "Orchard of Hope" and the third is "Summer of Joy".
"The Scent of Lilacs" is set in Hollyhill, Kentucky and is written with an old-fashioned southern charm. It follows the story of 13 year old Jocie, David (Jocie's father), and Aunt Love while each of them are struggling with their own personal battles and secrets. Jocie's mother and sister left her and her dad when Jocie was only 5 years old, so Jocie has spent much of the last 8 years wondering when they will return, or why they left in the first place. Why didn't her mother take her too? But there are more secrets involved than Jocie could possibly understand. The only people that Jocie has ever been able to depend on is her daddy and Wes, who has become somewhat of a grandfather to her even though they aren't biologically related. Aunt Love lives with them, but it seems like she is always in trouble with her aunt for one thing or another. Why is she so hard on her? Little does Jocie know, that Aunt Love is working through her own trials and tribulations.
While Aunt Love helps out as much as she can, David is consumed with making sure Jocie knows she is loved and safe. Meanwhile, he is dealing with his own issues as he acts as interim pastor at their local church. How will people accept a divorced preacher? David's problems are multiplied when his oldest daughter returns home from California unexpectedly. Of course he's happy to see her, but what brought her home? Will she stay here? Or is it just a matter of time before she leaves once again?
I loved this book for so many different reasons! Even when the characters were dealing with their own grief and heartache, they still remember God's promises to them and they are constantly quoting Bible verses. Jocie learns the importance of prayer as God answers two of her biggest prayers, and she learns that family isn't always the people you share your genetics with. Hollyhill is a true definition of what real family is. I would highly recommend this book and I rate it as 5 stars!
Available March 2013 at your favorite bookseller from Revell, a division of Baker Publishing Group.
*I received a free copy of this book from Baker Publishing Group to give my honest unbiased opinion.*