October 24, 2014

The Hatmaker's Heart by Carla Stewart: Heart Capturing & Dazzling Detail

Carla Stewart is a masterful novelist with a smooth storyteller's voice whose work I have followed and loved since her first book hit the shelves. No, long before. Carla tells the story HERE of how she and I met beneath the shade of a giant California Redwood years ago and became writing partners and more. 

The Heartmaker's Heart by Carla Stewart
The Story (1923, New York): For Nell Marchwold, bliss is seeing the transformation when someone gets a glimpse in the mirror while wearing one of her creations and feels beautiful. Nell has always strived to create hats that bring out a woman’s best qualities. She knows she’s fortunate to have landed a job as an apprentice designer at the prominent Oscar Fields Millinery in New York City. Yet when Nell’s fresh designs begin to catch on, her boss holds her back from the limelight, claiming the stutter she’s had since childhood reflects poorly on her and his salon.
But it seems Nell’s gift won’t be hidden by Oscar’s efforts. Soon an up-and-coming fashion designer is seeking her out as a partner of his 1922 collection. The publicity leads to an opportunity for Nell to make hats in London for a royal wedding. There, she sees her childhood friend, Quentin, and an unexpected spark kindles between them. But thanks to her success, Oscar is determined to keep her. As her heart tugs in two directions, Nell must decide what she is willing to sacrifice for her dream, and what her dream truly is.
Camille's Review:
The Hatmaker’s Heart sparkles with the dazzling sights and scents of New York, the glittering nightlife, and the social and cultural turmoil and excesses of the Roaring Twenties. It’s the story of a young woman with a flair for designing beautiful hats and a desire to draw out her clients’ confidence while struggling to find her own.

Nell Marchwold is a gracious young Englishwoman of faith and good character, with a keen milliner’s eye and exquisite taste in fashion. Her heart burns with the dream of a career at a time when women were not encouraged in business. She struggles to keep her dream alive, in spite of repeated opposition, haunting memories, and a stammer that marks her as an imbecile in the eyes of high society matrons—a stammer she must learn to master if she is ever to make a name for herself.

But for Nellie, it’s not about fame. She wants to be known for making plain women feel beautiful and confident. She has a generous heart, one that quietly whispers to her of her first love. As her accomplishments and confidence grow, an opportunity arises for Nell to realize her dream. Success or failure hangs by a silken thread, a test of her faith, strength, and honor. Will she have the courage to face the test? Or will her new-found confidence retreat into the shadows of her traumatic past?

Nell is quiet but has an inner strength that captured my heart. You’ll root for her as she gathers the nerve to speak her mind, but perhaps she will find it's her heart that needs to be heard.

Carla Stewart tells a dazzling story full of vivid detail, and as always, a fascinating reveal of times gone by. I am looking forward to her next book in this series!

The Hatmaker's Heart is available at major online booksellers including Amazon.


 The Author (from Carla): In a nutshell: I believe in Jesus, doing the right thing, the power of the written word, and a good cup of coffee. I’m a country girl living now in a mid-sized city with my engineering husband who just happens to be my best friend and biggest fan. We’re the parents of four grown sons who’ve married wonderful girls and given us seven amazing grandchildren. Being a Mimi is far more fun that I ever dreamed.

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I've published five novels and 2 novellas (more about those on my website.) I've been writing all my life, but decided in 2007 to get serious about being published.

I love action movies and Jane Austen. (she’s dead, I know. I found that out when I tried to get her to endorse my novel)

They let me play Bass guitar and sing in a worship band.

I can produce 4 dozen homemade cinnamon rolls in a flash for a crowd of drooling young adults. Or publishing house editors.

I used to have a Harley. Now we have six (going on seven) grandkiddos. Decent trade, really.

I am a proud Grammy. Don't even think about taking candy from my babies.

I hate shopping (Yes, I'm aware that I'm a girl)

I've lived in Oregon all my life, spent time in Eugene (Go DUCKS!), Springfield, Reedsport, and Smith River. Which is not really a town, but a river, about 70 miles long, a tributary of the Umpqua River in southwest Oregon.

Although it's not a town, it is a community with a strong sense of pioneer history. It's cool to say you've lived there, especially if you lived there during the days when you had to take a boat to school. No joke! The old farmhouse my grandfather and my mother grew up in still stands, nestled into a narrow, pasture carpeted valley, complete with a swimmin' hole and its own 'crick'. It may turn up in one of my novels.

There's a rumor that my ancestors had a connection with the Mafia back in Sicily. I used to fantasize as a kid about a big black limo with tinted windows pulling up and whisking me away from school. Ahhh. So THAT'S why I'm having so much trouble conjugating my dangling participles now.

NOT RANDOM: I am challenged by the truth and amazed by the grace of God. And it's either in spite of or because of that grace that I hold a PhD in Learning Stuff the Hard Way.