Title: Kees & Colliers series
Author: Kellyn Roth
Major Themes: World War I, Forgiveness, Family Life, Women’s Fiction
Synopsis: Over the course of four books, trace Adele’s and Troy’s stories from when one or both of their parents die until they become parents themselves and find forgiveness.
Not too long ago, an author I follow some shared that she was wanting to do a book tour for her recently re-released series, the Kees & Colliers series. Since I love helping authors when and where I can, I signed up to help, and she kindly sent me all the books in the series for review!
This series is somewhat different from others I’ve read, in that it fairly closely follows the family from one life change to another. Generally, there is a gap of several years, but I haven’t really detected much of that in this story. Overall, I enjoyed reading the stories, although most of them struck me as being somewhat on the simplistic side; they weren’t quite as gripping as I was hoping, or as deep. Still, there were good lessons to be found in them, so I’m not complaining too much!
Book 0: Souls Astray is the last book I read, and also one of the more recently published ones, although it technically should come before the rest of the stories. Looking back, I should have read this first, because there are lots of spoilers in the following three books. I actually felt like I knew most of the story, which made the reading a bit more difficult for me (it didn’t hold my interest as well). However, I did enjoy meeting some family members that are only mentioned in the following books, and seeing how some things worked out for the parts of the story that were only hinted at elsewhere. One thing I did struggle with in this story was that a man was supposed to have strong convictions one one particular doctrinal point (pacifism), and fairly soon in the story he does a sudden switch with little provocation—it didn’t feel realistic to me. Also, there are quite a few French words and phrases especially in the beginning of this story; I found them quite distracting, and at times it was hard to follow the meanings, since I don’t know French (Google translation on my Kindle did help some; I was glad I had that!). This book felt very long compared to the others; perhaps because it felt like a lot of unnecessary backstory to me, since I’d already come across the stories in the following books.
Book 1: The Lady of the Vineyard is a short, beautiful tale of a mother and daughter learning more about each other and how to love even when love is difficult. Six years ago, Adele divorced Troy Kee after being married only a year, because she couldn’t stand being tied down any more. Taking their daughter Judy with her, she moved to London, determined to find true, exciting love for herself. Now, she’s engaged to another man, and Judy is mostly left to run her own life. All Judy has ever wanted is to find love and acceptance. So when her father unexpectedly shows up in her life again after being absent all of her previous six years, she is excited. Will the family ever be happy again? This is quite a simple story, in a way. It’s pretty predictable, but even in that I found it somewhat charming. I love the theme in here of finding our true joy in the Lord, and appreciating what we have. The ending, too, is sweet. If you’re looking for a lighter read, this could be a good option. It still feels like it could use some polishing, but I enjoyed the story overall.
Book 2: Flowers in Her Heart was also a sweet story. Adele really wanted to be a good mother to her children, but when little Camilla came along, she still struggled with connecting with her daughter—or even knowing how to mother the baby. Troy did his best to encourage her, but it was hard for him, as well. I loved seeing the family growth here, and the forgiveness portrayed. The spiritual themes about having to rely on the Lord were very good, too. I think the end of this book is one of my favorite scenes of the whole series!
Book 3: From Now ‘Till Forever was a bit more of a difficult read for me, even though it was very short. I enjoyed seeing the family a little more grown up, and how they worked together to get through World War II safely, but I didn’t really appreciate the theme of a Christian man having to go off to war because that was his duty. I believe that the realm of fighting is and should be a part of the state’s functions, but as Christians, it isn’t our place to go out killing people—we were called to heal and help them. Still, like I said before, I enjoyed watching the family dynamics as they shifted some here, and it ties up the series well.
I’d have a hard time knowing exactly how to recommend the Kees & Colliers series. I enjoyed reading them, but would have enjoyed a bit more depth one way or another. And since there were elements in several stories (especially the prequel and book 3) that I didn’t appreciate so much, that makes it harder for me, too—see the warnings below for specific instances. However, if you’re looking for a light read, love checking out new authors, and appreciate stories with themes of forgiveness, you would probably enjoy these books. That forgiveness thread was quite possibly my favorite part—aside from how cute Judy was in The Lady of the Vineyard!
The author sent me complementary copies of these books, and this is my honest opinion of them.
WARNING: Souls Astray warnings: Two men are reported as killed in action in pt. 1, ch. 3 and 4 (some description in ch. 4), and pt. 2, ch. 3 (a woman also dies in the same chapter). A man is beaten up in pt. 2, ch. 1, and wonders if God wants him to go to war after all. A woman thinks about her shape in pt. 3, ch. 1. A daughter disrespects her mother in pt. 3, ch. 1. The phrase “my goodness” is used in pt. 3, ch. 2, and ch. 10. Flirting is mentioned in pt. 3, ch. 3 and a mention is made of a man who wanted a “fun fling with an innocent girl”. A man thinks (mostly in jest) about killing someone so his sister won’t have to get married in pt. 3, ch. 4. Sleeping around and drinking are mentioned, although not described, in pt. 3, ch. 5. Self-harm is mentioned in pt. 3, ch. 6. Sleeping around is mentioned again in pt. 3, ch. 7. Someone cusses in pt. 3, ch. 7. Kissing and making love is mentioned in pt. 3, ch. 8. Sleeping around is mentioned in pt. 3, ch. 9. The word “gosh” is used in pt. 3, ch. 10, and again in ch. 14. An unmarried man and woman touch in pt. 3, ch. 10. The phrase “for heaven’s sake” is used in pt. 3, ch. 10. The phrase “goodness knows” is used in pt. 3, ch. 13 and again in ch. 16. Someone lies in pt. 3, ch. 10, and again in ch. 13 and 21. A man decides to follow his heart instead of his conscience about a woman in pt. 3, ch. 10. In pt. 3, ch. 11, unmarried people touch, there is a kissing scene, there is a mention of making love, and a woman offers herself to a man. There is more kissing in pt. 3, ch. 13. In pt. 3, ch. 16 and 17, mentions are made of nuzzling/kissing and touching between married people (a bit more than I prefer reading about). A woman is in labor in pt. 3, ch. 18. A woman considers suicide in pt. 3, ch. 19, and looks forward to when she can tempt men with her body. Drinking is mentioned in pt. 3, ch. 21, and a woman thinks about how she has flirted and chased men.
The Lady of the Vineyard warnings: A woman’s loose past is mentioned several times. There is kissing in ch. 1 and the epilogue. Unmarried people touch in ch. 7. The word “darned” or a variant is used in ch. 1 and 9. People curse in ch. 2 and 15. The word “gosh” is used in ch. 2 (twice), 4, 7, and 10. A mention is made of marital relations in ch. 4. A mention is made of a woman staying out all night with men in ch. 5. Drunkenness is mentioned in ch. 7.
Flowers in Her Heart warnings: A mention is made of marital relations in ch. 3. The word “goodness” is used in ch. 3. The word “gosh” is used in ch. 3, 9 (two times), and 11 (two times). A man’s sense of honor and duty made him decide to go to war in ch. 3, and in ch. 5, there’s a mention that he knows God will be with him in that.
From Now ‘Till Forever warnings: There are two instances where kisses are mentioned. The words “gosh”, “dashed”, and “blasted” are each used once in the book. Husband-wife relations are hinted at once. A Christian man goes to and returns from war in the story. Someone tells a lie, then confesses.
Reading Independently—Ages 12 – 15, 15 and Above
Links to buy this book:
This review was written for the entire set of books. You can buy the individual books here:
Souls Astray, Book 0—
Flowers in Her Heart, Book 2—
From Now ‘Till Forever, Book 3—