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Connected Across the Distance - an Editorial Review of "Find Me in the Stars"

Book Blurb:

Separated by miles, connected by the stars, two healers forge their destinies in a quest for a brighter tomorrow.

5-star Highly Recommended Award of Excellence

“Larimore's ability to engulf a reader into a tale... is brilliantly done. The development of the characters and the story is rich, with believable situations, elegant descriptions, and powerful themes woven into the narrative.”~ Historical Fiction Company ~

Inspired by a true story, this refugee’s tale of sacrifice, separation, and abiding love unfolds in the rugged Cévennes Mountains of Languedoc, France, 1697 in a sweeping adventure during a time of religious divisiveness and Louis XIV’s oppressive rule. This compelling narrative follows the intertwined destinies of two remarkable protagonists, Amelia Auvrey, a mystic holy-woman healer, and Jehan BonDurant, an apothecary from a noble Huguenot family, in a riveting tale of enduring love, faith, and the search for freedom and light in the darkest of times.Amelia and Jehan are fierce champions of tolerance and compassion in their cherished Cévenole homeland, a region plagued by renewed persecutions of Huguenots. The escalated danger forces their paths to diverge, each embarking on their own dangerous journey toward survival and freedom. To avoid entanglement in a brewing rebellion, Jehan joins a troupe of refugees who flee the country in pursuit of sanctuary—a journey that challenges his faith and perseverance—while the Knights Hospitaller provide protection and refuge for Amelia and her ailing sage-femme grandmother, even as they come under suspicion of practicing witchcraft.Amelia’s deep spirituality and dedication to healing her people are eclipsed by her longing for Jehan and the anxiety she feels over his well-being as he embarks on the perilous and illegal escape to the Swiss Cantons. He arrives to find things are not as he expected; the Swiss have their own form of intolerance and soon immigrants are no longer welcome. The utopian Eden he seeks remains elusive until he learns of a resettlement project in the New World. But he is unclear if Amelia will commit to joining him, or if she will hold fast to her vow of celibacy and remain in the Cévennes.During their time apart, Amelia and Jehan rely on a network of booksellers to smuggle secret letters to each other—until the letters mysteriously cease, casting doubt on their future together. Seemingly ill-fated from the start, their love is tested to its limits as they are forced to navigate a world where uncertainty and fear threaten to eclipse their unwavering bond.This gripping tale is reminiscent of Ken Follett’s The Pillars of the Earth and Diana Gabaldon’s Outlander. The constant interplay of opposites—light and dark, safety and peril, movement and stasis, communication and isolation, the rhythms of daily life and the ravages of persecution—create a dynamic tension that propels the story forward in a linguistic style that has been compared to M.L. Stedman in The Light Between Oceans.As a stand-alone sequel to the award-winning The Muse of Freedom, a bestseller in Renaissance Fiction, Find Me in the Stars is based on true events in the life of Jean Pierre Bondurant dit Cougoussac—an unforgettable adventure where love and light endure against all odds.

  • 5-star Highly Recommended Award of Excellence ~ Historical Fiction Company

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Author Bio:

As an author of emotive, literary-leaning historical fiction bringing past cultures to life, Jules Larimore’s mantra is to impart hopeful human stories that are not only entertaining, but also inspire positive change and encourage an intimate relationship with the natural environment.

Influenced by a love for history and anthropology—from ancient times through the Renaissance and Enlightenment—Jules uses captivating historical settings, then distills and blends them with a dose of magic, myth, and romance to bring to life hopeful human stories where courage, tenacity, transcendent vision, and the power of love are called upon to overcome oppression and dangerous divisions. “She is an alchemist, drawing on the poetic power of words, assembling a colorful combination of characters to authentically explore the landscape of the human heart; its yearnings, boundaries, expectations and limitations” ~ Elijah Alexander, actor.

Though her career path has taken a crooked road, it seems she was preparing for writing her debut novel, The Muse of Freedom, all along the way. At University, she studied medieval history, ancient Greek culture, anthropology, folklore, narrative composition, and architectural design. Her years in the design field taught principles of balance, proportion, rhythm, emphasis, and unity—all important aspects of writing a novel. She also spent many years in marketing—an early outlet for creative writing, romancing brands with mystery, excitement, and remoteness from everyday life—and writing freelance narrative non-fiction for print and online publications.

But over twenty years ago she decided, someday, she would write about her 8th great-grandfather, French Huguenot Jean Pierre Bondurant dit Cougoussac, (Jehan BonDurant as he is called in the novel), a nobleman and descendant of many royal European bloodlines. Jean Pierre’s motivation to give everything up and flee France always intrigued her, and she knew there were many sides to the story during this divisive period that needed to find a voice.

She began two years of intensive training in novel writing, including under writing geniuses Libbie Hawker / Olivia Hawker and Roz Morris, all while studying late 17th century Languedoc customs and politics with a deep dive into research on the Bondurants. She found many surprising details along the way, including old recipe books (grimoires) in Occitan commonly used in the Middle Ages and Renaissance with recipes for herbal cures and word amulets.

Jules is a board member of the Historical Novel Society of Southern California and a member of France’s Splendid Centuries French History Writers’ Collaborative. She lives primarily in Ojai, California, (where she is better known as Cynthia Louise), with time spent around the U.S. and in various countries in Europe gathering more treasures in a continued search for authenticity.

Visit her website and sign up for a Reader Membership to access exclusive bonus materials.

Editorial Review:

“A person can conjure what is feared by simply uttering the words, so we must choose our words wisely. Yet if we speak our desires with the utmost faith, they can come true. 'Tis the essence and magic of prayer.”

In this sequel to “The Muse of Freedom”, the author Jules Larimore, continues the story of Amelia and Jehan as the religious divisiveness continues in 17th-century France against the Huguenots. Forced to separate in order to secure their safety, and for Jehan to discover the path to a new “Eden” where religious freedom is practised and no one has to fear for their lives, the reader travels with him along a treacherous journey, first to Switzerland and then onward to London. In vacillating chapters, the travails of both Amelia and Jehan are revealed as they fulfill their own destinies while trying to maintain their long-distance relationship through letters.

The moon had set, leaving a slow-moving wheel of bright stars that had Jehan thinking of Amelia, wondering if she were sleeping now. When he listened carefully, night sounds could be heard over the steady clopping of mule hooves; the nightingale singing out over the incessant music of crickets strumming their tiny legs, the scrabble of animals about the forest – likely fox and polecats chasing field mice, or roe deer swiftly evading wolves.

Though a series of unfortunate events, their letters are mishandled which causes both of them to make decisions about their future without truly knowing if their relationship remains intact. Thus the result of living in an era when letter-writing sometimes meant everything to one's future happiness, as well as sometimes meaning life or death.

“Shoots and roots. That's what I need, child. Shoots and roots,” Menina's sing-song voice lifted the moment. At least she had not lost her merry temperament.

But, all in all, this story is about faith, devotion, endurance, and perseverence. No matter the obstacles, Amelia and Jehan continue to find each other in the stars while discovering their own places in the world and fulfilling their responsibilities to those that they love. Amelia is determined to care for the poor and needy, and to not leave her grandmother's side to join Jehan, until the time is right. And Jehan blazes the trail for her to eventually join him, with his eyes focused on the future and the horizon towards the shores of the New World.

Ms Larimore's ability to engulf a reader into a tale, even a transitional tale which is a bridge between the first novel and the obvious one to come, is brilliantly done. The development of the characters and the story is rich, with believable situations, elegant descriptions, and powerful themes woven into the narrative. The flight of the Huguenots during this time period when Louis of France sought to destroy every vestige of their religion is another example in history of extreme inhumanity, and the author does an incredible job of mixing this history into Amelia and Jehan's plight. Readers of the first novel will, indeed, absorb this story and wait with anxious anticipation for the next in this series as Amelia and Jehan's adventures continue. Very well done and highly recommended.

Freedom is not so much the right to do all that we please, but the opportunity to do what is right. With freedom comes the responsibility to live with love and respect so as to give rise to the freedom of others. If we are not doing that, we will never really be free.



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