Grace A. Johnson
Review: Beyond Her Calling by Kellyn Roth
#1 This is a long review, so pull up a chair and grab a bowl of popcorn. You'll be here awhile. #2 When I read a review, I want substantial information. So I will not skimp on the details. Which will mean some spoilers, so watch out.
Synopsis: Ivy Knight needs a purpose. Despite her family’s assurances that her place is home with them, Ivy longs for more...for a calling. When God asks her to do the seemingly impossible and go to Scotland, she follows Him where He leads and strives to find His purpose for her—whether that’s showing Jesus to her friend Violet, befriending outcast Ena, bringing together a struggling Scottish community, or falling in love with her old friend Jordy McAllen.
From the moment I met Ivy Knight in The Dressmaker’s Secret and got to know her in Ivy Introspective, I knew I loved her. She was the sweetest, most precious munchkin ever and all I wanted to do was hug her.
As crazy as it sounds, she’s still the most precious munchkin ever and, y’all, if I could give her a hug I would, believe me. Following her coming-of-age/love story was an experience I jumped at...and totally wasn’t prepared for.
Suffice to say, I love Ivy and that’ll never change. I love her personality, her character, her journey, her beautiful mind, her love of music, her ways of communication, her compassion for others. I love how she trusts God and strives to follow Him above all else, how she truly believes in Him and listens to Him, how she spreads His love everywhere she goes. And of course, I love how Roth has written her. Her character is so strong and clear, her voice so unique, her stories so lovely. I am amazed by how developed and genuine Roth’s characters are—from Ivy to Alice, who are polar opposites; from Jordy to Peter; from Violet to Ena to Aunt Daphne; from Claire to Mr. Knight to Nettie.
And that scene toward the beginning there, where she’s talking with the Lord? Y’all, I got chills. That was beyond beautiful and so very Spirit-filled!
Another thing that amazes me is how Roth writes mental health. I personally shy away from books about mental health because I’m one of those crazy Christians who thinks everything—including the state of your mind and emotions—has to do with God...and very, very few mental health books acknowledge that.
So how Roth weaves faith into Ivy’s struggles is beautiful and authentic, and it makes my heart happy to see mental illness portrayed not as a disease that needs a medicinal cure, but as an ailment of the heart and, more so, of the spirit, that can only be healed by God Most High.
If we do want to get into it, though, I honestly feel like Ivy is just...a completely normal girl. A bit 21st century, in some ways, but oh so wise and mature, very intelligent, and as Jordy says, simply a wee bit afraid but not the least bit simple or tortured. I think with some of that love which conquers all fear, she’ll be all right. Violet is an altogether different story, though.
Speaking of Violet...I do so love her. She breaks my heart (or perhaps it’s simply that she breaks Ivy’s, and whatever Ivy feels, I feel) and I want nothing more than to give her a big ol’ hug as well! Sure, there are some moments in which she gave me quite the fright, but in the end? Let’s just say she’s on the path to redemption, my loves!
And then there’s Jordy. I’ve rather always loved him, but no one is good enough for my Vee or quite up to par with her tender sweetness, so of course I feel Ivy overshadowed him completely—in the best way possible, of course. It amazes me, though, how Roth moved from young teenage Jordy in Ivy’s perspective (in Ivy Introspective) to grown-up Jordy in his own point-of-view so very seamlessly! It was as if nothing had changed, as if I’d known Jordy this intimately whilst reading Ivy Introspective, which made this story so immersive and developed. (I still prefer Kirk and I honestly think he and Ivy would’ve made a lovely couple...being my two favorite people and all that.)
The secondary characters—Ena and Aunt Daphne especially—were all so lovely and well-done! I loved watching Ivy interact with them and they with her. Of course, Aunt Daphne was quite the character, and so full of wisdom and love in this blunt yet nurturing sort of way that made her relationships with Ivy and Violet so interesting!
All of the character shone through expertly—even Peter, Alice, and Claire through their letters!
On that note, Claire’s letter to Ivy...y’all. I could’ve cried! That was just the culmination, I suppose, that I was looking for and, in some way, that would’ve been happy ending enough for me!
As for unhappy endings…the way Roth teased A Prayer Unanswered through Peter and Alice’s letters was perfect! Being that I’ve already beta-read APU, I know exactly what went on, and the way it reflected through their letters was—well, I don’t want to use a positive adjective here for certain reasons, but, you know, well done, Kell, and all that.
Anyway! On to happier things!
Like the accents.
*sighs* I adore the Scottish accents and how Roth wrote them! And the setting! I do so love Scotland! And the plot—have I mentioned yet how I loved the plot? So simple and uncluttered but engaging, character-driven but purposeful—altogether lovely. Just lovely.
Really, I think my only qualm would be that I disagree on the whole “you can’t overcome your sin” bit. Of course, I understand where Roth was coming from, in terms of consequences and whatnot, but it did seem a bit...harsh? And there are Scriptures that insinuate that you can overcome your past sins through the power of God and by His grace, and that once the old has passed away and the new has come, you are no longer guaranteed to fall back into your sinful ways. Temptation will come, yes, but God has given us a way out of that and you don’t have to be defined by what you did or didn’t do. But I could go on about that forever, and it really was a minor thing.
Otherwise, Roth managed the immorality elements tastefully and biblically—something that I appreciated greatly, since so many seem to gloss over such, especially in our culture, and accept things that oughtn’t be accepted. Of course, that wasn’t typically the case in Ivy and Jordy’s time, but still. I appreciated it, even if I have read far worse.
Long story short, Beyond Her Calling was everything I’d hoped for in Ivy’s love story and even a wee bit more! This romance will not only cater to the romantics such as I, but to the historical fans, the Scotland lovers, the women’s fiction readers, the YA readers, and those who long for more mental health awareness!
Disclaimer: A complimentary copy of this book was provided by the publisher, publicist, or author, including NetGalley. All opinions expressed are my own.
About the Book
Ivy Knight feels that her life may never start. Though her loving family assures her that her place in the world is close to home, she still feels a push to move out of her comfort zone. Hoping against hope, she travels to her old friends at McCale House, seeking a purpose.
Jordy McAllen has just returned to Scotland after his education in London. He fears that what everyone has always said about him may be true: he can’t be a good doctor, let alone a good man. Determined to prove himself, Jordy snatches up the opportunity to become the doctor in the village of Keefmore near his parents’ farm.
When an old friend decides to travel to Keefmore and visit a relative, Ivy follows. She soon finds herself drawn to Jordy, but as their attraction grows, they both face doubts. A relationship between the two of them feels improbable—and might just require a step of impossible faith.
This novel is the fourth book in The Chronicles of Alice and Ivy, a historical family saga.
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About the Author
Kellyn Roth is a historical romance & women’s fiction author who writes about the empty places where hope has the most room to grow. Her novels include the inspirational Victorian family saga, The Chronicles of Alice and Ivy, and the Kees & Colliers series, which follows a broken family in the tumultuous years of the first half of the 20th century.
Kellyn is a student of the Author Conservatory and a writing coach. When not building her author career, she is likely getting lost somewhere in the Pacific Northwest with her friends, watching period dramas and facetious comedies, or spending time with her husband.
You could win...
Beyond Her Calling in paperback
The first three novels in Audible (audiobook) format
A painted ornament by Painted Prose Designs
Does it get any better? No. No, it doesn't. Weeeeellllll, I say that, but...
You might also possibly be kinda sorta interested in this scavenger hunt thing goin' on - OH WHO AM I KIDDING! Of course you're interested, because not only will you have tons of fun hunting for clues all throughout the tour, you'll get the chance to win even more awesome prizes!
$25 Amazon Gift Card
The first four novels in The Chronicles of Alice and Ivy in paperback
The rules are simple, my friends!
Begin at Stop #1 and continue on to the final post. At the end of each post, you’ll find a CLUE and a LINK to the next stop. Progress to each stop in order.
Collect all the clues and submit the full phrase at the last blog stop via the linked form to enter the giveaway.
While you’re at each stop, be sure to comment, as each comment wins you another entry in the Blog Tour Giveaway.
Deadline for entries is Monday, January 31st, at 10 AM Pacific Standard Time.
So, what's the clue for this stop??? Goooood question!
(That's "tracks," if you're like me and are better at reading print. *winks*) Y'all write that down alongside your other clues, then mosey on over to the next stop!
Prefer to follow the tour at your own pace? Then here's the schedule below! Be sure and check out each post for fun graphics, thoughts on the story, and more!
Saturday, January 22nd
1 — Kickoff Post by Kellyn Roth @ Lilacs and Reveries
2 — “Why Christian Fiction is an Important Genre” — Guest Post Written for Jane Mouttet @ Library Lady’s Kid Lit
Sunday, January 23rd
3 — Review of Beyond Her Calling by Hannah E.M. @ Precarious Bookstacks
4 — Interview with the Author by Grace A. Johnson @ Book Nations
Monday, January 24th
5 — A Post about Ivy & Jordy by Kellyn Roth @ Lilacs and Reveries
6 — Review of Beyond Her Calling by Jane Mouttet @ Library Lady’s Kid Lit
7 — Interview with the Author & Review of Beyond Her Calling by Esther Jackson @ The Lost Review of Odd Books
Tuesday, January 25th
8 — “Handling Tough Topics with Respect to Historical Accuracy” — Guest Post Written for Michaela Bush @ Tangled Up in Writing
Wednesday, January 26th
9 — A Post about My Other Characters by Kellyn Roth @ Lilacs and Reveries
10 — Review of Beyond Her Calling by Grace A. Johnson
Thursday, January 27th
11 — Review of Beyond Her Calling by Vanessa Hall
12 — Review of Beyond Her Calling by Hannah Killian @ The Writerly Worm
Friday, January 28th
13 — A Post about Scotland by Kellyn Roth @ Lilacs and Reveries
14 — Review of Beyond Her Calling by Marguerite Martin Gray
15 — “Why Christian Fiction CAN End with a Kiss” — Guest Post Written for Grace A. Johnson
Saturday, January 29th
16 — “My Least Favorite Christian Fiction Tropes” — Guest Post Written for Merie Shen @ Imperial Scribis
17 — Review of Beyond Her Calling by Megan Jones @ Why I Read
18 — Review of Beyond Her Calling by Katja L. @ Old-Fashioned Book Love
19 — Review of Beyond Her Calling by Alexa Mintah @ Thus Far
20 — Final Post by Kellyn Roth @ Lilacs and Reveries
Monday, January 31st
Wrapup Post by Kellyn Roth @ Lilacs and Reveries
Yours in spirit and script,
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