‘BLEEDING HEART,’ BY AMBER STOKES. Review of the 2013 self published historical novel. All review text © Rissi JC

Over the years, self-publishing has a kind of stigma. Why, I don’t know. In the past six months I have made tracks a handful of self-published novels, and did find each one to be worth the paper on which they are printed. This one is different since it’s authored by a lovely writer whom I am honored to know. Amber sets her story in Oregon in the early 1800’s and she crafts a hard-hitting novel involving broken characters, in unusual ways.

STORY BRIEF: The heroine is Sally Clay, a woman no longer a lady. She’s left to make her way in the world when the man she thought she loved spurns her for better prospects. Over the timespan of many months, Sally’s life becomes entangled with Joe and Seth Clifton – brothers with broken hearts of their own, and an Irish immigrant named Myghal.

Bleeding Heart, by Amber Stokes | Book Review

As a blogger, the author has a very sweet personality; she’s always able to share her opinion with an understood approach. This gift of hers transitions into her first fictional foray. Like any good author, Amber cares about her characters; whether they be her five main characters or a big-hearted cook, no one is forgotten. In Sally, we meet a woman who doesn’t think she’s worthy of pure love, and we sorrow with her over the anguish she experiences. Sally represents a pinnacle of what forgiveness in love means in the most tender way. This is one of the carryover themes that ties into the epilogue.

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What’s so though provoking is the point that, especially as most authors don’t usually tackle this much, the anger in this one group of characters. To be honest, I think that in order to fit better with the pacing, it’d have been more impactful to limit the number of people who do need this kind of healing. This novel is shorter than most (which I don’t mind in the least) and with the time jumps (also, something Amber does well), this presents a problem with pacing considering that most “average” books struggle with getting the time frame “just right.”

Let’s address the the things that will undoubtedly take a reader by surprise, and let me just say – wow! There is one pivotal event that I never expect. The author handles it expertly and uses it to an advantage instead of letting it drag down what is a compelling plot. Even though I cannot say that the setting is a favorite or that everything “click” (the mood swings of the villain or the emotional fallout in the aftermath of a death of a character we never meet), I can say that Bleeding Heart is sincerely poignant. In this book, any avid history buff will find a western treasure; the “voice” is profoundly genuine and unique, and is not a book you want miss out on journeying through.

It’s one I know will find a permanent place on my shelf, virtual and actual. Bleeding Heart is not just a “pretty face,” just be prepared, you may need a tissue or two!  

About the Book:

Author: Amber Stokes
Publication Date: 2013
Find the review elsewhere: Goodreads :: WordPress
Publisher: Seasons of a Story (Self-Publish via Amazon Kindle)
Genre: Fiction; Historical, Christian
Rating: 4 out of 5

Sincere thanks to the author for providing an e-ARC complimentary copy of this book for reviewing purposes.

About Rissi JC

amateur graphic designer. confirmed bookaholic. bubbl’r enthusiast. critical thinker. miswesterner. social media coordinator. writer.


    1. Thank you for reading, Rebeka. I look forward to reading your blog review soon! :)

      Ditto to your shout-out to Amber. Must agree – I think Bleeding Heart is going to receive many wonderful reviews. Excited to read them all in the coming days. :)

  1. I'll echo Julie – wow, Rissi! Your review is so thoughtful! I'm touched by your personal comments, and I absolutely love that last line. :) Thank you so, so much for all of your support during this time, and for taking a chance not only on a self-pubbed book, but also on a book that is not in one of your fave genres. :) *Big hugs*

    And I'll also echo, Rebeka – you make a lot of great points, and I appreciate your feedback! Thank you for everything!


    1. You made it very easy, Amber, to put these together. I am telling you (despite my annoying trend to reiterate that I don't love this sort of setting/timeframe – really I promise, I will work on that!), your book was lovely! Every word, I meant sincerely.

      It's been interesting how many fun, awesome self-published novels I've found that were memorable in the last year. Basically, when you announced your book as self-published, it was like, "COOL! This will be awesome because a.) Amber's writing it and b.) it's going to be self-published." Glad that you went that route – I think it can teach writer's a lot of things.

      Thank *you* for all the work in putting this tour together, inviting all of us to join and for stopping by. :) Looking forward to the days ahead.

    2. I'm so glad you found it easy to participate! I know it's nice as a book-blogger when groups like Litfuse have all the info you need in once place, and it's kind of nice to have a deadline (sometimes) so you have motivation to get the book read, LOL. I hope I was able to keep things organized but not super annoying!

      There have been some great self-published books, haven't there? Your words are so sweet, Rissi!! I definitely agree that self-publishing teaches you a LOT about the publishing industry. :)


    3. Deadlines are nice. On one hand I appreciate them because soon as I learn about "my date," I write it in my date book (so handy!) but then there are months when it's nice to know I have more freedom (i.e., reviewing books at my own pace). It's a catch-22 really. Gotta' love the life of a book blogger. ;)

      I admire your organization, Amber. You are building a great freelance business and I sincerely think you are doing it well. No, not at all! Nothing came across as annoying. :)

      Yes, there have been some good novels in the self-publishing branding! Loved discovering all of them, too; it's been a real joy. I trust your experiences in this journey have all been good – if a bit challenging. :)

  2. Wow, Rissi! This is such an amazing review!!! After reading this, my first thought was "Oh my word. What an awesome review, it sounds like a book, and now I want to read Bleeding Heart even MORE!" (If that is mentally, physically, and bookishly possible ;o ))
    Now I'm off to check out the spoilers at the Bleeding Heart site mentioned at your Goodreads review. :o )

    Have a wonderfully, splendidly awesome day!!!

    1. Rissi does have a way with words, doesn't she? :) She's very talented – and very supportive!

      I've been so encouraged by your enthusiasm for Bleeding Heart! You're certainly welcome to check out the spoilers if you don't like unexpected plot twists – but I think the story packs more of an emotional punch if you don't know everything ahead of time… Guess it depends how you like your reading experience! :)


    2. Ysa – thank you for reading this! My first rule in reviewing is to write an honest assessment of my thoughts so that is always what I strive for – first and foremost I hope that is how this review comes across. With that being said, Amber's novel was a lovely read. I think it will be one I am going to re-read. In my book, that's the sign of a good book. :)

      Hope you didn't mind the spoilers!

      Same to you – have a grand day. :)

      Amber – just chiming in with this regarding spoilers; you threw me for a loop with one of the twists. NEVER expected it. I was sort of reading ahead and when I saw Sally's name coupled with someone else, I was like, "wait! What happened to Sally and…" Great job! :)

  3. "…each of the characters are broken after being ill-used by someone they thought trustworthy"…you've got my attention! Great review, Rissi. I'm looking forward to reading "Bleeding Heart".

    1. These characters are definitely broken… It's a darker story, but I hope one that you will still enjoy. :) Thank you so much for your interest and for all your great comments at the various blogs!


    2. Gwendolyn – it's a great book! I am excited to know what you think of it if/when you have opportunity to read Bleeding Heart.

      Just in case you missed it, Amber has a lovely giveaway – you are invited to, and most welcome to enter. :)

  4. Great review Rissi, I'm so glad we met when you posted a review for Love's Miracles. I am finding your reviews very interesting and helpful.

    You did a great job with the review for Amber's Bleeding Hearts. I am reading this now and finding the unusual plot both refreshing and intriguing. That is the wonderful thing about self-publishing–you can venture out of the mold which Amber has done in a remarkable way.

    1. Aww, Sandra! How sweet of you to stop by – and I'm honored by your words! I like that about self-publishing, too. :) My editor noted that she thought I would have a hard time getting a traditional publisher to accept the story "as is," so that kind of helped confirm the route I was planning to go (self-pubbing).


    2. Sandra – thank you for stopping by and commenting! :)

      …again thanks for your kind words regarding the review for Bleeding Heart. The book made it easy to write a review – when a reader loves a book, it's so simple to write the review because really there is so much to discuss and consider – it provides all the inspiration! Those are the best sort of novels.

      Glad you are reading BH. I think you'll wind up enjoying it very much. It's a keeper.

      Amber – I am glad you didn't change the book! I can guess some of the things that may have had to change and knowing how much of a meaningful book this was for you – and readers, I admire you for publishing it in its original form. Well done.

  5. Good review, Rissi! I'm thinking I have an idea of what that pivotal event is – it came as a shock to me as well. And what a surprise it was to discover how talented Amber is. Keep them coming, Amber!

    1. Hey Ganise! Thanks bunches for visiting. Always appreciate your comments and thorough thoughts.

      That's my hope as well – if Amber's last blog post was any indication, I think she has lots of future stories for us. Yay! Excited to see what the future brings for her. :)

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