In Promise Me This by Cathy Gohlke, fifteen-year-old Michael Dunnagan hardly dares to believe that God might hear the prayers of “a gutter rat” like him until the kindness of a stranger gives him hope. Meanwhile, fourteen-year-old Annie Allen only wants time to pass quickly so that she might join her older brother Owen in America, but tragedy forces her to learn the bitterness of sorrow and the freedom of forgiveness.
Gohlke’s historical romance, set during the time of the Titanic and World War I, explores the depth of human nature and emotions through its three-dimensional, compelling characters, Michael and Annie, as well as numerous minor characters. They keep a familiar and sometimes overused setting from becoming a cliché. Placing the sinking Titanic within its historical context just before World War I also helps keep the story fresh.
Promise Me This illustrates the truth shown in John Bunyan’s classic work, Pilgrim’s Progress: when we drop our burdens at the foot of the cross, we find peace and freedom. Or, as Psalm 55:22 says, “Cast your burden on the LORD, and he will sustain you.” Although this is not a book for readers who want heart-pounding action on every page, Promise Me This will certainly satisfy romance readers who enjoy historical details and character-driven plots. – Ruth Anne Burrell, www.ChristianBookPreviews.com
Michael Dunnagan was never supposed to sail on the Titanic, nor would he have survived if not for the courage of Owen Allen. Determined to carry out his promise to care for Owen’s relatives in America and his younger sister, Annie, in England, Michael works hard to strengthen the family’s New Jersey garden and landscaping business.
Annie Allen doesn’t care what Michael promised Owen. She only knows that her brother is gone—like their mother and father—and the grief is enough to swallow her whole. As Annie struggles to navigate life without Owen, Michael reaches out to her through letters. In time, as Annie begins to lay aside her anger that Michael lived when Owen did not, a tentative friendship takes root and blossoms into something neither expected. Just as Michael saves enough money to bring Annie to America, WWI erupts in Europe. When Annie’s letters mysteriously stop, Michael risks everything to fulfill his promise—and find the woman he’s grown to love—before she’s lost forever.