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Once I Knew

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Violet lives her quiet little life in her sleepy village. Trying to remain as dead to the politics that are threatening their world as possible. She follows the rules, stays out of trouble and does her best to remain out of sight of the dreaded and overbearing Kingsmen. With the new regent on the throne, the country has been thrown into a turmoil. Unlike the kindly king be Violet lives her quiet little life in her sleepy village. Trying to remain as dead to the politics that are threatening their world as possible. She follows the rules, stays out of trouble and does her best to remain out of sight of the dreaded and overbearing Kingsmen. With the new regent on the throne, the country has been thrown into a turmoil. Unlike the kindly king before him, the new ruler is overbearing, frightening and tyrannical in his rule. Taxes are bleeding the people dry and without the money or goods to pay, they have been forced into penal servitude and imprisonment by the Kingsmen, who know no mercy. The despair and fear that has taken over their lives has ruled out any level of hope. When Violet stumbles upon an unconscious and injured Kingsman in the woods, despite the consequences, she cannot help but take care of the injured man. When he wakes and has no memory of who he is, she takes the only precaution that will keep her and her grandmother safe; she destroys the evidence of his past life. If Violet’s lowly Kingsman regains his memory, will she be able to live with the consequences? And will the Kingsman be able to live with his past life?


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Violet lives her quiet little life in her sleepy village. Trying to remain as dead to the politics that are threatening their world as possible. She follows the rules, stays out of trouble and does her best to remain out of sight of the dreaded and overbearing Kingsmen. With the new regent on the throne, the country has been thrown into a turmoil. Unlike the kindly king be Violet lives her quiet little life in her sleepy village. Trying to remain as dead to the politics that are threatening their world as possible. She follows the rules, stays out of trouble and does her best to remain out of sight of the dreaded and overbearing Kingsmen. With the new regent on the throne, the country has been thrown into a turmoil. Unlike the kindly king before him, the new ruler is overbearing, frightening and tyrannical in his rule. Taxes are bleeding the people dry and without the money or goods to pay, they have been forced into penal servitude and imprisonment by the Kingsmen, who know no mercy. The despair and fear that has taken over their lives has ruled out any level of hope. When Violet stumbles upon an unconscious and injured Kingsman in the woods, despite the consequences, she cannot help but take care of the injured man. When he wakes and has no memory of who he is, she takes the only precaution that will keep her and her grandmother safe; she destroys the evidence of his past life. If Violet’s lowly Kingsman regains his memory, will she be able to live with the consequences? And will the Kingsman be able to live with his past life?

30 review for Once I Knew

  1. 5 out of 5

    Victoria Lynn

    CONTENT ADVISORY: Since people have different opinions and thoughts on what "clean fiction" is, I thought it would behoove the community to post a content advisory so you can be aware point blank of what is included in this book so you can be aware of trigger warnings if it isn't your cup of tea. I will say, I went out of my way to handle everything as tastefully as possible in order to be respectful of others needs. No swearing No sex No fade to black scenes Minor, pg-13 level violence. No gore. Va CONTENT ADVISORY: Since people have different opinions and thoughts on what "clean fiction" is, I thought it would behoove the community to post a content advisory so you can be aware point blank of what is included in this book so you can be aware of trigger warnings if it isn't your cup of tea. I will say, I went out of my way to handle everything as tastefully as possible in order to be respectful of others needs. No swearing No sex No fade to black scenes Minor, pg-13 level violence. No gore. Vague mentions and insinuation of a man who lived a somewhat "playboy" lifestyle, nothing graphic. A few insinuations in conversation of soldiers having their way with women, again, nothing graphic, and is vague enough it could be missed by younger readers. The word hell is only used literally. Wounds, violence, combat, and abuse are handled without gore, but are sprinkled throughout. Would fit a PG-13 level for some minor violence. If you are comfortable watching things like Marvel, Robin Hood or Merlin by BBC, Mission Impossible, etc, then this book has far less language and sex, but would probably hover around that type of violence level. Using the Book Cave rating system, Once I Knew would fit in the MILD category. https://mybookcave.com/mybookratings/...

  2. 5 out of 5

    Caitlin Miller

    3.5 ⭐️ Once I Knew by Victoria Lynn is a lovely read with relatable characters, intriguing storylines, and great plot twists. One thing I loved about this book was the romance between the two main characters, Violet and Obed. It was *so* refreshing to read a book where the characters honored each other enough to not give into their romantic desires but to wait until they were married. That, honestly, is a rarity to find in books—so when I say the romance in this book is rare, I’m meaning that in 3.5 ⭐️ Once I Knew by Victoria Lynn is a lovely read with relatable characters, intriguing storylines, and great plot twists. One thing I loved about this book was the romance between the two main characters, Violet and Obed. It was *so* refreshing to read a book where the characters honored each other enough to not give into their romantic desires but to wait until they were married. That, honestly, is a rarity to find in books—so when I say the romance in this book is rare, I’m meaning that in the best possible way! (I kinda got Cinderella (2015 movie) vibes towards the end of the book 🥰) I also really loved how the author included a character who struggled mentally. It was really eye-opening to see everything through Violet’s eyes, and how hard it was for her to care for someone she loved who struggles to remember her at times. So good! For those of you who love fictional worlds, clean romance, and Cinderella vibes, I think you’ll love this book!! Thank you to the author for an ARC of Once I Knew. I was under no obligation to leave anything but a honest review. All opinions are expressly my own.

  3. 5 out of 5

    Lindsey (Books for Christian Girls)

    About this book: “Violet lives her quiet little life in her sleepy village. Trying to remain as dead to the politics that are threatening their world as possible. She follows the rules, stays out of trouble and does her best to remain out of sight of the dreaded and overbearing Kingsmen. With the new regent on the throne, the country has been thrown into a turmoil. Unlike the kindly king before him, the new ruler is overbearing, frightening and tyrannical in his rule. Taxes are bleeding the pe About this book: “Violet lives her quiet little life in her sleepy village. Trying to remain as dead to the politics that are threatening their world as possible. She follows the rules, stays out of trouble and does her best to remain out of sight of the dreaded and overbearing Kingsmen. With the new regent on the throne, the country has been thrown into a turmoil. Unlike the kindly king before him, the new ruler is overbearing, frightening and tyrannical in his rule. Taxes are bleeding the people dry and without the money or goods to pay, they have been forced into penal servitude and imprisonment by the Kingsmen, who know no mercy. The despair and fear that has taken over their lives has ruled out any level of hope. When Violet stumbles upon an unconscious and injured Kingsman in the woods, despite the consequences, she cannot help but take care of the injured man. When he wakes and has no memory of who he is, she takes the only precaution that will keep her and her grandmother safe; she destroys the evidence of his past life. If Violet’s lowly Kingsman regains his memory, will she be able to live with the consequences? And will the Kingsman be able to live with his past life?” Series: Book #1 in “The Chronicles of Elira” series. Spiritual Content- Galatians 5:1 at the beginning; Scriptures are mentioned, quoted, & remembered; Many prayers & thanking God; God talks to Violet & Obed; A couple hymns are remembered & sung; Talks about God, His plan, being a child of God, & praying; A discussion about God, why He is/isn’t rescuing His people right away, & Him knowing (Violet struggles with this); ‘H’s are capitalized when referring to God; Obed isn’t sure if he believes in God (*Spoiler* (view spoiler)[Halfway through, God talks to him and he prays for Jesus to take and cleanse him; he feels the difference and God talks to him *End of Spoiler* (hide spoiler)] ); Many, many mentions of God, Jesus, His sacrifice for us, seeing the Lord, being called by Him, & being a child of God; Many mentions of prayers & praying (including a mention of Obed thinking that Violet wasn’t praying in English one time); Mentions of Bibles & Bible reading; Mentions of those & events in the Bible; Mentions of Heaven & knowing you’re going there when you die; Mentions of sins, sinners, & living sinfully; A few mentions of faiths; A few mentions of miracles; A couple mentions of the Lord sometimes opening people’s eyes to future events (called “spiritual sight”); A couple mentions of godsends; A couple mentions of churches & religions; A mention of going to churches that have “a ceremony of pomps, scripts, and elaborate folding of hands”; *Note: Violet says that every Kingsman she’s met was evil or some varying shade of it; Mentions of evil men, a man’s evil eyes, evil plans, evil intentions, & the evil in someone; Mentions of hell (the possibility of “all hell [breaking] loose”, fighting “like hell”, wanting to “bring down hell” upon someone, a “hellish moment”, a fire being like “a taste of hell”, pain like “hell fire”, not knowing “what hell exists” for someone, and someone forcing a “living hell” upon his people); A mention of a man being like “a demon from the pit of burning fire”; A mention of a demon inside of someone; A mention of Violet thinking that if a room “burned as hot as her soul did, then [the people in the room] would all burn in hellfire”; A mention of someone looking at another like they’re a ghost or just sprouted horns. Negative Content- Minor cussing including: a ‘hang it all’, an ‘idiot’, a ‘manure’ (said like a curse), a ‘shut up’, a ‘what in tarnation’, a ‘what the devil’, and four forms of ‘stupid’; Mentions of curses & cursing (a couple by Violet (who was ashamed she knew them and said them), said not written); A bit of sarcasm; Being held at knife-point (barely-above-not-detailed); Fighting & being hit and slapped (both Violet and Obed, up to semi-detailed); Lots of Pain, Injuries, Blood/Bleeding, & Passing out (up to semi-detailed); A fire, burns, & pain (semi-detailed); Recalling seeing the hanging of a loved one (blunt, semi-detailed) & grieving; Recalling an accident & pain (up to semi-detailed); Violet wonders at one point after a lot of pain, that “wouldn’t it just be easier to end it all?” (she’s told not to think like that and this leads into a discussion about God and Him knowing everything); Violet’s grandmother slips into old memories at times & is very confused (this is incredibly hard on Violet); Violet has few panic attacks & anxiety attacks; Violet lies that Obed is her cousin for the sake of their safety & also keeps from him anything she knows about his past; Many mentions of executions (hangings), being killed, & punishments from the government (including harsh beatings and being put into the stocks, up to semi-detailed); Many mentions of pain, injuries, being choked, broken bones, & blood/bleeding (up to semi-detailed); Mentions of an assassination attempt & believing a body to have been eaten by wild animals (barely-above-not-detailed); Mentions of someone being poisoned & dying; Mentions of a possible death & dead body (barely-above-not-detailed); Mentions of a child being beaten by the kingsmen and becoming crippled; Mentions of wars, battles, & fighting; Mentions of slavery & slaves; Mentions of someone being held at knife-point & blood; Mentions of a fire & injuries (semi-detailed); Mentions of threats of violence & killing; Mentions of prison; Mentions of alcohol, drinking, drunks, & pubs; Mentions of lies & lying; Mentions of rumors; Mentions of nightmares; Mentions of a kitten that was killed by a kingsman in front of it’s owner (a child, barely-above-not-detailed); Mentions of manure & the smell of waste (barely-above-not-detailed); A few mentions of a country doing raids to “steal women, children, & helpless men”; A few mentions of treason; A few mentions of thieves & stealing; A few mentions of hatred; A few mentions of vomit & throwing up; A couple mentions of a possible kidnapping & ransom; A couple mentions of taking substances that altered your mind (Obed); A couple mentions of a horse being abused by it’s rider (barely-above-not-detailed); A mention of the sound of swords meeting flesh (barely-above-not-detailed); A mention of someone being ran out of a place & to be killed like a dog; A mention of being trapped “like a deer in a snare”; A mention of the smell of dead fish (barely-above-not-detailed). Sexual Content- Two top-of-the-head kisses (one being friendly), a forehead kiss, an almost kiss (semi-detailed), and two semi-detailed kisses (one from a dream of a past event); Wanting to kiss someone (barely-above-not-detailed); Touches, Embraces, & Hand Holding (barely-above-not-detailed); Wanting to touch, embrace, & hold hands; Blushes; Noticing (barely-above-not-detailed); A Kingsman implies that if Violet sleeps with him, her debts will be paid (when she rejects him, he says that he may still get what he wants and that if she doesn’t pay, he’ll take what he wants with or without her permission; it’s blatantly hinted at what he means, but the words ‘sleep with’ or anything similar is not actually said); Kingsmen act suggestive to Violet & leer at her lustfully (this happens three times, including one trying to get her to kiss him & the others roughly pulling and pushing her and touching her cheek while talking to her in a suggestive tone, barely-above-not-detailed); Obed has a remembering/dream of a party & pulling a woman onto his lap for a kiss and playing with her hair (barely-above-not-detailed) & another of women at his feet and one in his lap playing with his hair and kisses her (it’s said that her breath on his cheek filled “him with pleasure”, that he recalling it, “felt the enjoyment of the moment but also felt repulsed”, border-line barely-above-not-detailed // semi-detailed); A few mentions of Violet not being touched by a man (it’s said that “he could have had his way and wrecked her if he had been given the slightest chance. Which, clearly, the Lord wasn’t allowing.”); A few mentions of a man bringing up of when Obed used to lust over everything and anything & him seducing many women; A couple mentions of woman being assaulted (no details, another mention of a girl being found “beaten and worse”); A couple mentions of kisses; A couple mentions of Violet’s purity (one said in a mocking tone); A mention of men whistling at Violet; A mention of a life turning into parties, women, & debauchery; Love, falling in love, & the emotions; *Note: A couple mentions of a mother & (stillborn) baby dying (Violet’s family); A mention of some women’s dresses being revealing and lewd. -Violet Frell -Obed P.O.V. switches between them Historical/Fantasy 374 pages ~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~* Pre Teens- One Star New Teens- One Star Early High School Teens- Three Stars Older High School Teens- Four Stars My personal Rating- Four Stars {Lower the ratings a full star for those sensitive to mentions of men having their way with women &/or animal death.} What a fascinating novel. The characters, the world building, the setting. Just everything had me so intrigued and wanting to know more. I had high hopes for this novel and it pretty much knock it out of the park. There was such good substance to this plot—it was not heavily focused on the romance, but on their faiths and doing the right and good thing for others. The romance elements were sweet and not on the physical side at all, which I so appreciated. The faith content was just spectacular, it held and weaved this book and the plot together so well. I don’t know what else to say, this book quickly pulled me in and I didn’t want to set it down to do anything else. Two of my favorite tropes (amnesia and hidden identity) were important to the story and had me so curious in what would happen next. There are some mentions of men leering at Violet and wanting to have their way with her, but nothing goes beyond that. Another few mentions of the death of a child’s pet that might be hard for some readers, so please take note of both of those parts. Violet also struggles with panic attacks at times and a mention of wondering about ending it all that could be triggering for those with suicidal thoughts. Elsewise, I would consider this book to be clean and could be interesting for readers 16+, depending on the girl. Link to review: https://booksforchristiangirls.blogsp... *BFCG may (Read the review to see) recommend this book by this author. It does not mean I recommend all the books by this author.

  4. 5 out of 5

    Erin Phillips

    Once I Knew is a slow-burn cottagecore Christian non-magical fantasy romance which reminded me of Melanie Dickerson. Whenever a book has explicit Christianity in it, that always grabs my attention to see how it will play out as a part of the story, so I'll start there: Christianity is casually put into the story for the first half of the story-usually in the form of prayers by Violet-in a way that feels natural and authentic without any grand speeches, which I enjoyed. In the second half of the st Once I Knew is a slow-burn cottagecore Christian non-magical fantasy romance which reminded me of Melanie Dickerson. Whenever a book has explicit Christianity in it, that always grabs my attention to see how it will play out as a part of the story, so I'll start there: Christianity is casually put into the story for the first half of the story-usually in the form of prayers by Violet-in a way that feels natural and authentic without any grand speeches, which I enjoyed. In the second half of the story, Christianity becomes much more mainstage, namely in two situations: First, through a rather sudden conversion scene, which felt unearned and poorly set up, both due to the fact that we have not experienced this "dark sin" he feels guilty over, or any conversations concerning salvation or Christianity prior to this moment. The second was a monologue from the Holy Spirit (to clarify: the monologue includes some scripture but it is hodgepodge cut together to create new context), which I am always wary of. I wish that, rather than putting words in God’s mouth, the characters had opened the Bible and read Scripture, as this would not have been out of place given the setting and story. I really appreciated how Granny suffers from dementia in a relatable and realistic manner, making her character endearing and heartbreaking, especially as we experience Violet trying to care for her grandmother, despite the difficulties. Violet is compassionate and admirable, pushing past her own discomfort to do what needs to be done, although she does have a great deal of fear of the kingsmen. Violet’s paranoia and anxiety is well represented, making the reader empathize with her and, while wishing for the best, worried for the worst, although her fear did sometimes read as self-righteously prejudiced against the kingsmen. We don’t experience the kingsmen doing more than pushing people around and making threats. One scene has a very real threat of rape, but it is cut short with what felt like an unbelievable excuse, given what we have been told about the kingsmen. The pacing was quite slow, so my interest waned the more I read; the true villain isn’t introduced until the last 20%, and the story had some good bones, but ultimately felt thin despite a lot of filler. Romance novels are hit or miss for me, so as a generally non-romance reader, this one didn’t keep my interest and I had to push to finish it, but I do think that those find Christian romance to be their comfort genre might enjoy it more than I did. I received an eARC of this book for free from the author. All comments and opinions are entirely my own and this review is voluntary.

  5. 4 out of 5

    Kristina Hall

    Disclosure: I received this book free from the publisher/author. The opinions I have expressed are my own, and I was not required to write a review. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s 16 CFR, Part 255. Characters: Both Violet and Obed were well-developed, sympathetic characters. Violet’s struggle with anxiety and Obed’s loss of memory gave them depth, and I enjoyed seeing them grow as characters. Language: One use of h*ll that edged way too close to cussing for Disclosure: I received this book free from the publisher/author. The opinions I have expressed are my own, and I was not required to write a review. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s 16 CFR, Part 255. Characters: Both Violet and Obed were well-developed, sympathetic characters. Violet’s struggle with anxiety and Obed’s loss of memory gave them depth, and I enjoyed seeing them grow as characters. Language: One use of h*ll that edged way too close to cussing for me. However, I contacted the author, and she said she didn’t intend for it to be used as a cuss word but as a simile/description that fit the time period she modeled the fictional world after. Moral/theme: One of the main themes that I got out of reading this novel was doing the right thing even when it’s hard. Other themes included salvation, family, and memory. Plot: Plenty of action, intrigue, and developing character relationships kept me turning pages. Romance: Clean. Maybe a forehead kiss or something like that :) Writing: I enjoyed Victoria Lynn’s writing style and found it easy to read and follow. Overall: Once I Knew was an exciting read. If you enjoy Christian fiction and non-magical stories, you’ll probably enjoy this one.

  6. 5 out of 5

    Alexandria Grace

    I usually hate rating books by stars BUTTTT I got to alpha-read the rough draft of this book and it’s still got my heart spinning. Can’t wait for the rest of the world to devour this tale! U P D A T E D REVIEW: What to say when your tongue is tied in knots??? This book and the series that soon follows are something so, SO special…and only an author even more special, with a clear vision on God’s heart, could be tasked to write such beauties. I’m so immensely proud of my friend, and am crazy thankfu I usually hate rating books by stars BUTTTT I got to alpha-read the rough draft of this book and it’s still got my heart spinning. Can’t wait for the rest of the world to devour this tale! U P D A T E D REVIEW: What to say when your tongue is tied in knots??? This book and the series that soon follows are something so, SO special…and only an author even more special, with a clear vision on God’s heart, could be tasked to write such beauties. I’m so immensely proud of my friend, and am crazy thankful for being given the opportunity to alpha-read the first book in The Chronicles of Elira. Once I Knew is a lovely, non-magical, Christian fantasy novel about the battle between old nature VS new nature, taking back what’s been stolen, and the fight to know who you are in a world that tries to muddle your identity at every twist and turn. Our two main leads are strong, and are surrounded by some trickled, bold side characters. Violet is a lonely peasant with a wounded, servant heart, bound by a painful past that causes her to cover up someone else’s. Obed has amnesia, can’t remember who he is, yet reveals himself to be a kind and eager learner, prone to injury, constantly throwing himself in the middle of a predicaments to help…under Violet’s care and blossoming partnership, he may not know who he once was, but he begins to see who he desires to be. But secrets can’t stay hidden forever, and when the truth springs forth, both Violet and Obed must see if they’re able to embrace their destinies lain out by God, and possibly even embrace one another. With other characters like the sweet town doctor, Fendrel, and Marcus, Violet’s childhood friend (a personal favorite of mine), accompanied by rich faith content, age-old prose, and a brand new world with an aesthetic as deep and lively as an earthen forest, Once I Knew is an adventure worthy of shelf space and a place in people’s hearts. A million stars for this gem!

  7. 4 out of 5

    R.M. Archer

    I've been following Victoria Lynn on Instagram for ages, but Once I Knew was the first of her books to really catch my attention. Because I appreciate her and her passion for truth so much, I was really excited to see a book of hers coming out that's in a genre I enjoy and I was thrilled to be able to pre-order it! In the end... I didn't enjoy Once I Knew as much as I'd hoped. In part I think it was a matter of taste and in part it was a matter of the prose needing another once-over from a line e I've been following Victoria Lynn on Instagram for ages, but Once I Knew was the first of her books to really catch my attention. Because I appreciate her and her passion for truth so much, I was really excited to see a book of hers coming out that's in a genre I enjoy and I was thrilled to be able to pre-order it! In the end... I didn't enjoy Once I Knew as much as I'd hoped. In part I think it was a matter of taste and in part it was a matter of the prose needing another once-over from a line editor. The prose had a very clear voice, but it also consistently felt awkward in ways that would have been fixed by subtle tweaks in sentence structure or even just punctuation, so the voice didn't really get to shine because the awkwardness of the sentence structure got in the way. I also just didn't really click with the characters? Violet was especially hard for me because she's very emotion-driven, even to the point of it influencing her physical health (she was constantly passing out), and I am... not. There's nothing wrong with being emotion-driven—emotions are a good thing—I just personally have trouble connecting with and enjoying characters who are so thoroughly immersed in their emotions because I'm so often in my head, distanced from my emotions, and can't relate. I won't call Violet a weak female character—she wasn't, and I very much appreciate her feminine qualities, especially when it comes to her duty to her family and household—but the fainting spells and crying did start to bug me a little bit. Obed was all right. Protective male characters are my jam, so as far as that goes he was great. He just felt... a little too perfect? I didn't quite believe his arc. It didn't feel like there was enough conflict involved. And his spiritual growth felt way too fast. Conversion I get, and the turnaround that comes with that, but you don't go from living in the world to being a fully mature Christian that quickly, and while Violet and Obed did seem to be in the same place spiritually at the end (as they should have been for... the ending) it didn't seem like they should have been given their very different history and spiritual timelines. So. That was a little frustrating. Especially because their whole relationship just felt... I felt like there wasn't enough basis for it realistically, and yet on the page there was nothing I could pinpoint to make it a mismatch, so it ended up feeling like their similarities and complementary traits were pushed in too fast for the sake of their relationship instead of their relationship developing quite as organically as it should have. Marcus, on the other hand... I know, I know. He's the best friend character so I'm automatically biased. But I really feel like Victoria did him dirty. Marcus really did feel equally yoked with Violet, they had an established relationship to build off of, he was just as loyal and protective as Obed was... It kind of seemed like he was written off because of his disability in one scene, which... is not cool. (Also not the intention, I'm sure, but that's how it came across to me.) He was probably my favorite character in the book. He felt the most realistic to me, overall. He was sweet, grounded in his faith, really and truly loved Violet, took care of Violet and Granny, was a hard worker... Marcus deserved better and that's all I have to say about that. The faith elements. I have such mixed thoughts here. The first thing that really stood out to me in a negative sense was that it's weird to have exactly the same names for God in a fantasy world as in the real world. I can appreciate the desire to make that connection really clear and to emphasize the name of Jesus and all of that, but it doesn't feel natural to the setting and it's kind of jarring to have characters in a fantasy world talking about Jesus by the name He's known by in the real world. On the flip side, it was neat when I noticed near the end that Violet and Obed commonly referred to God by two different titles that meant something to them: Obed referring to Him as his Heavenly Father and Violet referring to Him as the King. That was a well-done thematic tool that I thought strengthened the portrayal of faith quite a bit. God talking... I always have so much trouble deciding thoughts on this. Because on the one hand, I know that God speaks. I don't doubt that He can and does speak audibly in some situations to some people. So I hesitate to call direct dialogue with God or an allegory of God "unrealistic." On the other hand, it's so rarely that easy. Especially in cases where the truth being communicated is so directly found in Scripture and the characters have access to Scripture. (There was one scene with Obed, in particular, that felt like a recitation of various Scripture passages for three paragraphs and felt like a fast and easy way to give Obed a lot of reassurance and wisdom all at once instead of giving him time to struggle and learn and study for himself. "It is the glory of God to conceal a matter, but the glory of kings is to search out a matter." - Proverbs 25:2) Basing that dialogue heavily on Scripture does, on the other hand, make it a lot harder to fall into my other concern with God dialogue which is that of putting words into God's mouth. So I can appreciate it from that angle. But basically, having God talk directly to characters is messy and I personally struggle with it in pretty much every case (even when I don't expressly mention such). I did like the narrative voice, underneath the line editing issue. I loved Marcus, and there were other side characters I enjoyed also and would have liked to see fleshed out more (Everard, Fendrel, Malcolm). The overall themes were solid. The small-scale settings were lovely (the forest, the fields, etc.). Overall, I'd give the book three stars. It wasn't my favorite. It wasn't terrible. It just sort of was.

  8. 5 out of 5

    Joy Woodbury

    Once I Knew is a story with beautiful themes, and you can really see the author's heart for her work shining through each word. I deeply appreciated the tactful way she handled heavy topics, too. However, I just don't think this book is for me, and in this review, I will explain why. Please bear in mind that everything I will say is largely my own personal preference, and I would say to definitely check out the book for yourself, because you may enjoy it very much! So let's start with characters. Once I Knew is a story with beautiful themes, and you can really see the author's heart for her work shining through each word. I deeply appreciated the tactful way she handled heavy topics, too. However, I just don't think this book is for me, and in this review, I will explain why. Please bear in mind that everything I will say is largely my own personal preference, and I would say to definitely check out the book for yourself, because you may enjoy it very much! So let's start with characters. I never loved any of the characters (except Granny and Marcus), nor connected with them very much. I'm not sure why, so I honestly can't give you a reason. I just felt, somehow, as if there was something . . . missing with them. I did like Violet - she was kind, caring, and gentle-hearted - but she just felt underdeveloped. I have no idea why; I can't put my finger on what it was about her that kept me at arm's length from her, but I still feel as if I never got to know her as well as I would have liked to. Obed (view spoiler)[or Elgon (hide spoiler)] . . . this is difficult to say, but I never even liked him that much at all. There was something underlying his character that again, I cannot put my finger on but which I did not like. I feel as if I never got to know him even after spending nearly 300 pages with him. He felt so underdeveloped. I feel that he could have been a very powerful character (especially with the arc he had), but the execution just didn't cut it for me. I found it very hard to understand him because we were never shown much of his past or why he did the things he did before. Did he know anything about the kingdom at all or what? Did he just live under a rock? What did his father do to him that was so bad? A sentence toward the end of the story (which mentions his father reading the Bible) seemed to hint that his father was a Christian, but if so, why all the enmity between father and son? Just how exactly was his father such a bad father? I'm having trouble articulating this, but I just felt like his story wasn't explained sufficiently, and so I did not understand him or his backstory. I also have to tell the truth and say that I was very disappointed and annoyed by how quickly things resolved for him. I was expecting to see much more internal conflict and development from him. I wanted to witness him learning about Christ and hesitating to believe, not knowing if it was true or not, agonizing over whether he was deserving of God's love and worthy to be forgiven after all he had done. I fully expected to see all this. But there was . . . nothing. Obed just accepts Christ in the blink of an eye, and it's mentioned that he heard Violet and Granny reading the Bible and talking about Jesus . . . but we are never shown any of that. We are never shown any of the scenes where he hears about Jesus and feels the Lord tugging at his heart. We're just told after the fact of his conversion that he heard about Jesus from Violet and Granny. It just . . . agh, it diminished so much of the power that conversion story could have had. And from then on, Obed has his faith and his life all together and knows exactly what he's doing, and his last-minute struggles (view spoiler)[of exposing the chancellor and taking back the throne (hide spoiler)] were resolved wayyyyyy too quickly and easily. Long story short, I could not make myself like Obed, and so I did not root for his romance with Violet. But we'll get to that in a minute. I loved Granny. Actually, she is the one character (besides Marcus) whom I did not have mixed feelings about. I thought the portrayal of an elderly person with a declining mind (much of it intensified by trauma) was simply excellent. As someone who has interacted a lot with elderly persons with dementia and Alzheimer's, I really felt for Granny's character and the way the struggles with her mind impacted her and Violet. I liked Fendrel but did not love him, and I kind of forgot what his relationship was with Marcus. (Was he his uncle or his teacher?) I kept forgetting who Everard was and eventually just gave up trying to remember him. I loved Marcus. He was just so kind, gentle, and compassionate, and I really empathized with the struggles with his health, which clearly caused him a lot of pain. He was just such a tenderhearted man, and I think he had that vast ability to empathize because of his pain and illness. Yet despite his pain, he was unselfish and always thinking of others. I preferred him to Obed by far, and if Violet had to end up with someone, I think it should have been Marcus. I hurt for him because he loved her and she just cast him aside . . . for Obed, and as I'm about to explain, I was completely clueless as to why she supposedly loved Obed so much. I think she was much closer to Marcus. She had a long-standing, strong friendship with him, and to me, their relationship seemed much more like one that could blossom into romantic love. BUT if I'm being totally honest, I really didn't root for any of the characters in this book to end up together. I would have liked it much, much better if this story had not been about romance and rather about friendship. I'm not sure why, but I just couldn't find myself "shipping." Okay, here we go. Obed and Violet's romance made absolutely no sense to me. Like, no sense at all. I feel like I missed the part where they supposedly fell deeply in love with each other. All of a sudden they both claim (in their separate POVs) that they're in love, and I'm like "What did I miss?? When did they fall in love??" I just didn't get it, and because I didn't get it, I didn't root for it. Next, let's move on to plot. (Side note: I was really surprised that I guessed the major plot twist wayyyy before it happened. I never guess plot twists.) Because I didn't care much for the characters, I didn't find I cared about what was happening to them, either. When Obed gets his memory back and converts - which happened a LOT sooner than I thought it would - the story felt like it was over. I didn't really understand what else there was to be told. By the last 100 pages or so, I was bored, but kept on reading because I don't DNF unless it's really unbearable. This book never got to that point, but it meandered along, and the climax is resolved SO QUICKLY. By the time we reached what was supposed to be the climax, I was just skimming, and I even skipped entire sections. Also, God spoke to the characters through their thoughts. There's a part where God speaks eloquently to Obed for one entire page. I just don't agree with that because it's not realistic, and I find it much more powerful when the character's journey to faith is shown, not just conveniently resolved through a monologue transmitted to him/her by God. In short, I think this book just wasn't for me. I loved the messages presented in it, the lovely prose, the lack of gratuitous content, and the wise way of handling tough topics without skirting around them. However, the weak characters, easy resolutions, and other things which I discussed above were too prevalent to allow me to truly enjoy this. Content Guide Profanity Several uses of h*ll, which I felt were very well-placed and tastefully used. Sexual A character was once involved in sinful relationships in his past life, and there are a few flashbacks showing him kissing women and holding one on his lap. There is a mention of women at parties being dressed in revealing, lewd clothing. A male character asks a female character for a kiss (in a lustful way that clues us in that his intentions are anything but good). Another male character asks a female character to give him her body, and in return, he will call off the taxes she owes. She refuses. Nothing further happens, although it's implied that he might have gone ahead anyway and raped her. The author portrays these things realistically while not including anything gratuitous, and everything is kept clean. Violence Non-graphic. A description of a hanging (not overly detailed), mentions of executions of innocent civilians by kingsmen, mentions of poisoning, mentions of an assassination plot, mentions of blood. Characters get hurt. Nothing is gratuitously described. Mental Health A character has PTSD (after losing her father in a very traumatic way and witnessing his death by hanging) and suffers from occasional panic attacks. An elderly lady's declining mind is brought on largely by trauma after the violent death of her son, and she often struggles to remember that he is no longer alive. Content Rating I'd say this book is appropriate for readers ages 14 and up. Conclusion If you enjoy non-magical kingdom fantasy with faith-filled themes, Once I Knew may be for you! Disclaimer: I received this book free from the publisher/author. The opinions I have expressed are my own, and I was not required to write a positive review. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s 16 CFR, Part 255.

  9. 4 out of 5

    Kristianne

    Victoria Lynn’s latest novel is a sweet tale of love, courage, and the triumph of good over evil as Violet and Obed fight for their kingdom and their people. With strong Christian themes, this story will inspire you to stand for truth wherever you may be. Characters: I sympathized deeply with Violet’s struggle with anxiety and my heart ached for the trauma she endured. I admired her strength of character despite everything she went through, and I loved watching her grow into a courageous young wo Victoria Lynn’s latest novel is a sweet tale of love, courage, and the triumph of good over evil as Violet and Obed fight for their kingdom and their people. With strong Christian themes, this story will inspire you to stand for truth wherever you may be. Characters: I sympathized deeply with Violet’s struggle with anxiety and my heart ached for the trauma she endured. I admired her strength of character despite everything she went through, and I loved watching her grow into a courageous young woman who wasn’t afraid to speak the truth. Obed . . . I didn’t connect with him as much, I think because I didn’t understand enough of his character and who he really was. While I thought his confusion and distress over his memory loss was realistically portrayed, I felt like there was still an important piece of his character missing in the end. I would have liked more of a glimpse into his past and what shaped him into the person he was. Also, while I liked his conversion, it did feel a bit too convenient to the story and not well-developed. Most bothersome though was the fact that Obed didn’t struggle at all with inclinations toward his past life after his salvation. It didn’t feel like a realistic portrayal of the process of sanctification, since we still struggle with our sin natures after salvation. While the romance had the potential to be really sweet, it felt rather lacking, especially on Violet’s part. I found her sudden confession of love for Obed a bit jarring since we had seen very little progression in her feelings toward him to that point. I would have liked to see more development in their relationship—it lacked a real sincerity and depth to it and as a result, seemed like it was just tacked on to the story. Plot: While the plot could be a bit predictable and repetitive at times, it was well-executed. I guessed the twist about Obed long before it was revealed, but it was still fun to watch the characters react to it. The rising tension and stakes kept me reading all the way through, and the ending was sweet and very fairytale-like. Themes: My favorite part of the book was the themes. Violet’s quiet faith lived out through her actions was beautiful to see and such a convicting reminder to me as a Christian. Obed and Violet are both characters we should emulate, and I admire their stalwart courage in the face of evil. I especially loved watching Violet overcome her fear since anxiety is something I struggle with as well. Prose: With creamy smoothness and breathtaking, imaginative descriptions, Victoria paints the medieval world of Elira in vibrant hues. Every sentence seemed to flow effortlessly into the next. I thoroughly enjoyed this book just for the prose itself! While a bit lacking in character development, Once I Knew is still a sweet, thought-provoking read and an unashamed charge to live boldly for Christ in this dark world. A breath of fresh air in our heavily secularized society, this story will leave you inspired and emboldened to change the world around you one step at a time. *I received a free copy of this book from the author in exchange for an honest review. I was not required to write a positive review. All thoughts and opinions are my own.

  10. 4 out of 5

    Morgan Giesbrecht

    I beta read this story earlier this year and loved getting to enjoy it all over again in all its polished splendour! 😍 Victoria’s writing style is lovely as are her descriptions and the pacing was well done. There is plenty of character introspection mixed in with the draw of needing know what would happen next. I kept telling myself, “Just one more chapter….” As for the characters…oh, how I love them! Violet with her relatable mix of sweet kindness, anxiety, and trust issues. Obed, a total swee I beta read this story earlier this year and loved getting to enjoy it all over again in all its polished splendour! 😍 Victoria’s writing style is lovely as are her descriptions and the pacing was well done. There is plenty of character introspection mixed in with the draw of needing know what would happen next. I kept telling myself, “Just one more chapter….” As for the characters…oh, how I love them! Violet with her relatable mix of sweet kindness, anxiety, and trust issues. Obed, a total sweetheart trying to find his way and his identity in the face of memory loss. Precious Granny gripped with dementia. Dear Fendrel. And don’t get me started on Marcus and Everard…my heart! Then there’s the villains, who are perfectly cunning and…well, villainous. The romance thread was refreshing! It was sweet, gentle, and not overly prominent. Plus, I loved how Violet and Obed were focused on honouring God and each other in their budding relationship. The themes were especially meaningful: trusting God, true surrender, the powerful change God works in our heart through His grace and spirit, the battle between light & darkness, joy & sorrow. Victoria weaves truth and light into her stories in a beautifully powerful way. Okay, and the bonus scenes?!?! 😍 Ah, I cannot wait for book 2!

  11. 5 out of 5

    Katja Labonté

    5 stars & 5/10 hearts. I’ve been eagerly awaiting this book since the author began it, as a short story, some years back. The book is, of course, different, yet it carried out the promise it had so long ago! As kingdom fiction, the worldbuilding was fantastic. Elira was a well-built medieval land, with some history hinted at and surrounded by an interesting country. I did have a bit of a struggle at the portrayal of the setting—the fear, the uncertainty, everyone paralyzed and struggling to survi 5 stars & 5/10 hearts. I’ve been eagerly awaiting this book since the author began it, as a short story, some years back. The book is, of course, different, yet it carried out the promise it had so long ago! As kingdom fiction, the worldbuilding was fantastic. Elira was a well-built medieval land, with some history hinted at and surrounded by an interesting country. I did have a bit of a struggle at the portrayal of the setting—the fear, the uncertainty, everyone paralyzed and struggling to survive. It was highly reminiscent of the pandemic times and spiked my anxiety. “She didn’t disagree with the sentiments her neighbors raised, for the most part, but she did hate the feeling of existential dread and overwhelming heaviness that weighed her down after hearing them.” That sums up my feelings during 2020-2021 and for part of this book. However, I appreciated how the writing style and dialogue was done—while not particularly old-fashioned, it was not modern either, and had an interesting flavour that complimented the book well. I loved the symbolism of the forest and how recurrent it was! I liked the characters. Violet was a sweet, hardworking girl who earned my respect and sympathy at once. I related a lot to her anxiety and worry, as well as her desire to do the right thing mixed with her struggle to defy authority/place herself within the limits of punishment. Obed was an interesting fellow. I guessed his real identity, but I enjoyed seeing him in his amnesic identity. He was a good, kind man and I liked his interactions with Violet & Granny and the little boy. Marcus was fascinating and I loved him, Frendel was so nice, Everard I LOVED and wanted more of, Malcom was epic, the villain was terrible, and Granny was sweet. The plot was quite interesting. I really had no idea where it would go and was pleasantly surprised by each new development. I appreciated the addition of Granny’s dementia, and I’ve always been intrigued by stories about amnesia, so that part was fun too. The author did an excellent job of raising the stakes yet keeping things clean. While I feared the Kingsmen, I also knew that nothing untoward would happen and my trust was confirmed. The romance was sweet and slow-burn, focussed on character and quite selfless, and I loved how low-key yet strong it was. I don’t want to say too much and spoil anything, but I loved the ending and how everything wrapped up! I’m afraid I am very vague about the plot but it is very difficult to talk of without quite a few spoilers. What I appreciated most of the book is the theme & messages. The reminder to stand up and do the right thing even if it’s dangerous and no one will help, or it will cost us our dearest possessions. The reminder that the past is wiped away and we are made new in Christ, with a purpose He can carry out in us despite our feelings of worthlessness. The reminder that no matter what happens, God triumphs and evil cannot win. Overall, although parts of the book did make me rather heavy and anxious, I found it a sweet, heartwarming, encouraging tale, not spectacular, but pleasant and wholesome—rather like a slice of warm, homemade bread and butter. I look forwards to the next book in the series! Content: The one thing I was bothered by was the frequent use of “hell” as a description—“he fought like hell”; he wanted to “bring down hell” on Violet’s antagonists; they lived a “hellish moment”; after being burned, her back was “didn’t burn with hell fire”; when Violet is brought through a room of kinsmen she says “if the room burned as hot as her soul did, then they would all burn in hellfire.” The other four instances of “hell” I didn’t mind—mention that “all hell will break loose;” mention that Elira was “a living hell;” Violet prays for her Granny and says “I don’t know what hell exists for her on earth;” and during a fire, “everything around her threatening to give her a taste of the hell she had been promised to avoid with the death of her Savior.” I felt that the constant use of “hell” brought down the force that the word actually had and bordered on using the word in vain. Other content includes non-graphic violence; several mentions that Elgon carried on affairs with many women in his past (one mention of a woman siting on his lap, them touching, then leaning in for a kiss, and a mention that women wore ‘lewd, revealing dresses’); and several instances where Violet is threatened with r*pe but never in anything more than words; also a hint that another girl may have been violated by kingsmen. Recommended ages: 16-18+, depending. A Favourite Quote: “We need to remember, that He does have it all in control. He knows when the breaking point is, not us. We have to realize that, while we are weak and want all of this to be over, He knows every single piece of the puzzle and the perfect timing for it all to fit together. There is good left in this world, Violet. We can’t expect Him to destroy every last inch of it just to rescue us. This isn’t the first time in history that His people have been cut down and destroyed. Remember Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego? They were thrown into a fiery furnace. He rescued them. Will He not do the same for us?” … “The furnace feels mighty hot right now.” […] “But He’s right here with us in the fire. Don’t you see Him?” A Favourite Beautiful Quote: She stopped short, her eyes running along the length of the forest. Shadows crept at the edges, their blackness encroaching but being forced back by the smattering of light that shone through the sparser leaves on the edge of the forest. Its denseness made it dark, ominous...overpowering. She longed for the happy forest whose greenness had beckoned to her as a child, its playful light, color, and patterns soothing her soul, encouraging her imagination, and filling her with life. A Favourite Humorous Quote: “You are supposed to be dead.” Malcolm repeated, a touch of panic in his voice, emphasizing the word “supposed.” Elgon grunted. “Clearly, I’m not.” *I received a complimentary copy of this book for promotional purposes. I was not required to write a positive review. These are my honest thoughts and opinions.*

  12. 5 out of 5

    Lily - Books by Starlight

    Review to come.

  13. 4 out of 5

    Kaytlin Phillips

    Eeeee! I loved this book! Someone finally made the characters care about purity more than kissing....like, Yes! Thank you Miss Lynn! Okay...let me try and organize my thoughts. Characters: Violet was nice, lovable, relatable. I'm never much on female characters...which can be chocked up to the fact I grew up roughhousing with my brothers so I'm naturally more at home among the action, but Violet had fire...it wasn't annoying. It was perfectly done and for a female MC she was very likable for me. Obe Eeeee! I loved this book! Someone finally made the characters care about purity more than kissing....like, Yes! Thank you Miss Lynn! Okay...let me try and organize my thoughts. Characters: Violet was nice, lovable, relatable. I'm never much on female characters...which can be chocked up to the fact I grew up roughhousing with my brothers so I'm naturally more at home among the action, but Violet had fire...it wasn't annoying. It was perfectly done and for a female MC she was very likable for me. Obed, I loved him! Like yes! And no it's not only because ehe can't remember who he is and I totally have an obsession with those kind of characters...no he was strong, tender, kind, just...I loved him you guys! Granny was so sweet! I wanted to hug her! Marcus and Fendrel and the blacksmith whose name I shall not butcher...were all really great lovable characters! I can't wait to read more about Marcus! I love him! Plot: Every time I thought it was going to drag something would happen...so the timing was perfect. Towards the end there were some long speeches that I felt could have been shortened and had the same impact...but other than that I have no complaints! Theme: Trusting God and believing that he can take care of us no matter the circumstances. That everything will work out for His good...no one said we'd like it or it'd be easy but His way is the only way. Romance: Guys...this was so good! I mean to me...there's no kiss except on the head. I loved watching the slow progression of the love story...the realization. Not insta love over a human body, but a slow soul intertwining love that will stand the test of time. The fact that the guy cared more for the girls purity than fulling his lust, yes he recognized it as lust, to kiss her was just...I loved that! I loved that Miss Lynn painted that picture of true love...of caring more for the other person than you wishes. Caring for their reputation and purity. I could rave...and probably will to my family...for days on how much I loved this aspect of the book! I loved it! Don't get me wrong...a well placed kiss is fine, but there is something so refreshing about reading about a man who cares more for the woman before him than the earthly desires in him. Language: A few mentions of hell...as in the place...not meant as swearing. Overall: I highly recommend Once I Knew, it was amazing and delightful and had such a refreshing and clean romance! I loved the characters and the story and yes! 5 out of 5! I loved this so much!

  14. 4 out of 5

    Grace Johnson

    Warnings: #1 This is a long review, so pull up a chair and grab a bowl of popcorn. You’ll be here awhile. #2 When I read a review, I want substantial information. So I will not skimp on the details. Which may mean some spoilers, so watch out. Stars: 4 Synopsis: Violet Frell’s life has finally found a routine—tend the fields, care for the house, and ensure her grandmother’s mental lapses didn’t worsen—when her world is disrupted by the injured and unconscious kingsman she finds in the woods. Carin Warnings: #1 This is a long review, so pull up a chair and grab a bowl of popcorn. You’ll be here awhile. #2 When I read a review, I want substantial information. So I will not skimp on the details. Which may mean some spoilers, so watch out. Stars: 4 Synopsis: Violet Frell’s life has finally found a routine—tend the fields, care for the house, and ensure her grandmother’s mental lapses didn’t worsen—when her world is disrupted by the injured and unconscious kingsman she finds in the woods. Caring for this broken man could cause more harm than good, yet Violet takes the chance, without a single clue of what she’s really getting into. What I Loved: Let’s face it: a medieval-esque Christian non-magical kingdom fantasy with cottagecore vibes and the amnesia trope and a sweet, tender romance is destined for perfection. Not to mention the fact that I have come to absolutely adore Victoria Lynn and pretty much everything about her since I began following her on Instagram. So part of what I loved about this book is really just...its essence, I guess. Its heart. More specifically, the heart of the author and the story behind the story. But that’s sentimental nonsense, so on to the actual story we go! First and foremost, the themes. I absolutely loved seeing the real and alive faith content (especially considering this is fantasy) and watching Violet and Obed’s spiritual growth! (And, naturally, I taught myself the difference between spiritual arcs and spiritual growth...definitely something worth a blog post about!) On that note, Violet’s struggles with anxiety were two-sided, and I both loved and hated it (I’ll talk about the hated side in the next section). The aspect I loved was how Violet’s anxiety wasn’t thrown in for representation or for brownie points on the mental-health-in-books chart. The word anxiety wasn’t even used—it was simply a real, human struggle that fit Violet’s character, influenced her actions and the course of the story, and was part of her spiritual growth. Victoria portrayed her anxiety in a way that was authentic (almost too authentic on that later) and honestly quite admirable! Now, on to that other main character we’re all so curious about...Obed! Let me just say that I totally saw all of that coming, and the Lady of Assumptions won yet again! (Man, the Lady of Assumptions hasn’t made an appearance in quite some time...do y’all even remember her?) Otherwise, I loved this guy. Granted, I felt like there was a lot missing (which I can’t talk about now, because this is the love section… *sighs*), but I still loved him. Like, he was just so sweet and precious and it was just nice to see a hero who was real and vibrant and, yeah, he had a past, but it wasn’t the focal point of the story...and he was on fire and passionate and protective and just the perfection combination of sweet love interest and Chosen One—if that makes sense. It seems like you either have a male protagonist or a love interest in fantasy stories these days—you never have an actual hero who makes an impact on the heroine and the story. Which brings me to another point...this story wasn’t about a badbutt (it’s not the same with butt, it just isn’t), independent, strong female MC who fixed everything. But it wasn’t about a prophesied hero who rose up and saved the day either. It was about two broken individuals—one male, one female—who worked alongside each other and God to do what He had called them to do. I loved that. (And the fact that Obed was actually born into his calling instead of trained was such a lovely twist.) And the romance...some reviewers have mentioned it going too fast or just happening all of a sudden, but I thought it fit perfectly with the pacing (which was fast-paced, I’ll admit, but even and smooth) and was so tender and sweet! Not necessarily how I usually take my romantic tea, but still a breath of fresh air in comparison to some of the more melodramatic romances I’ve read. *winks* Then there were the secondary characters—Granny, Marcus, Fendrel, Everard. I adored these guys and I wanted to see SO much more of them!!! Maybe in the next book, eh? Finally, the last thing I loved about this story was the dialogue. It had such a rich, classical, almost Jane Austen-esque flavor that is simply my favorite! What I Didn’t Love: Now, for the painful part of this review...as much as the story pulled me in and captivated me, it did fall flat in some places. From a more objective point of view, the prose could’ve stood a good line edit. Yes, there were some beautiful descriptions and lovely word choices, but it needed a balance between constant description (description of movement specifically) and the lacking emotions/thoughts. There was little to no variation in the sentence structure either, and it wasn’t the most immersive or showing… Except for Violet’s anxiety. From a writer’s standpoint, I must applaud Victoria for how well she wrote Vi’s panic attacks and emotions (her word choices took the moments over the top when other things were missing)...but from a reader’s standpoint, I got anxiety from all that. I’m not the only one, either, as another reader with anxiety noticed the same. Should there have been a trigger warning? I don’t know...it wasn’t necessarily like I was “triggered” or anything; just a little too immersed in the moment, I guess! It’s kinda laughable, really, but the older I get (and I’ll just be seventeen next month), the more books just plain stress me out. *shakes head* I need help. On that note, those tense moments were also the only ones in which I clicked with Violet. *sighs* I wanted so much to love her, because she wasn’t a feminist or obnoxious or a control freak or selfish, and I appreciated her character, but I never could connect with her or really quite love her. Y’all know me and heroines. As for Obed, the only qualm I had with his character was that there was so little of it! I wanted more of him as Obed and more of his past (flashbacks, anyone?) and just more of him, his journey, his healing, his arc, his feelings for Violet...all of it! I guess that’s both a good and bad thing. I mentioned earlier how much I loved the secondary characters and how vivid they were—and that goes for all but the chancellor/regent/villain/dude who reminded me of Palpatine (whose name I cannot spell for the life of me). I just really felt like he was missing something to make him stand out from all the other villains, something distinctive and memorable, whether that was an aspect of his personality or something he did. He (apart from Violet, but that’s subjective) was the only character I just didn’t like. From a more technical, less pet peevial perspective, I felt like the story moved too fast and was lacking some things. Like, the pacing was smooth, so it wasn’t like it was slow and then fast and then dragged and then skipped over six months; it was all even and balanced...I just didn’t like the balance. I think a slightly slow pace that focused more on character development would’ve been perfect! And there were some elements of the storyline that were rather cliche/obvious. Otherwise, though, the story was engaging and gripping and pulled me in! Long Story Short: The face value of Once I Knew is very high. The story is rich and vibrant, captivating and enchanting, pure and refreshing. It’s all your favorite fantasy elements without the smut and with lovely themes and faith content! Of course, critical readers like myself can nitpick about certain aspects, and the prose could’ve used a bit of tweaking, but none of that took away from how intriguing and satisfying the story was! I would definitely recommend it to pretty much everyone, and I cannot wait to read more by Victoria Lynn! Disclaimer: I received an advanced review copy of this book from the lovely author. All opinions expressed are my own.

  15. 4 out of 5

    E.F.B.

    Just realized I needed to update this with a review now that the book is out in the world! I had the pleasure of beta reading "Once I Knew" earlier this year. I've read every book Victoria has published, so obviously, I had to read her first fantasy! Bonus points that it was inspired by a powerful short story I remembered reading on her blog years ago. No spoilers here, but y'all. The depth is intense. The emotions are intense. The spiritual themes are moving. The characters are so lovable, and I Just realized I needed to update this with a review now that the book is out in the world! I had the pleasure of beta reading "Once I Knew" earlier this year. I've read every book Victoria has published, so obviously, I had to read her first fantasy! Bonus points that it was inspired by a powerful short story I remembered reading on her blog years ago. No spoilers here, but y'all. The depth is intense. The emotions are intense. The spiritual themes are moving. The characters are so lovable, and I want all the good things for them even as I'm moved by their struggles. I loved it. The best part is, this is the first book in a series, and I can't wait for more! If you like "kingdom fantasy" (aka non-magical fantasy), great characters, and deep, godly themes, then this book is for you! If you'd like a content advisory to help you decide if this book is right for you or someone you know, please check out this one by Lindsey from the blog Books for Christian Girls: https://www.goodreads.com/review/show...

  16. 4 out of 5

    Eloria

    **this book was given to me free of charge in exchange for an honest review that is in no way influenced by the author or publisher** About the book: Violet, a young women lives in a small village caring and providing for her elderly grandmother. Violet tries her best to stay invisible from the evil Kingsmen that terrorize the town and town’s people, collecting taxes and enforcing laws. Then one day she finds an injured man in the forest not too far from her house and she begins to question her r **this book was given to me free of charge in exchange for an honest review that is in no way influenced by the author or publisher** About the book: Violet, a young women lives in a small village caring and providing for her elderly grandmother. Violet tries her best to stay invisible from the evil Kingsmen that terrorize the town and town’s people, collecting taxes and enforcing laws. Then one day she finds an injured man in the forest not too far from her house and she begins to question her reality and her life as she knows it gets turned upside as she risks all to help the mysterious man in the woods. My thoughts: This squeaky clean non-magical fantasy that is packed full of action interested me in many ways and I did enjoy many parts of this book. I enjoyed Obed’s character arc. I also loved how the author described all the clothing of the characters, particularly Violets dresses as I could tell that the author was a seamstress herself and had knowledge about how clothes are made. I also like the medieval small village farmer feeling I got from this. Now just as I enjoyed some parts of this, there were a few parts I wasn’t as keen on. I felt like the pacing was a little off and the events in this books were sort of repetitive. Also I feel like marketing this as a non-magical fantasy is just a bit misleading and I would feel much more satisfied with the story overall if it was just marked as fiction if that makes sense because It didn’t feel like it fit the fantasy genre super well. Lastly there were just one or two minor theological aspects of this book I didn’t quite agree with. Overall, this book was good, and I think it would be a wonderful fit for more sensitive readers who like fast paced medieval fiction.

  17. 5 out of 5

    Michaela Bush

    This is a squeaky clean low-fantasy novel with strong themes of redemption and following God's will even if it's hard. The prose is very nicely written and you'll get a strong "cottagecore" vibe from reading this, which was interesting to see! I also appreciated the themes Lynn incorporated into the story, as well as seeing how the dysfunction of the kingdom's leadership affected the villagers. However, the characters just felt a bit one-dimensional to me. I love characters that you can really g This is a squeaky clean low-fantasy novel with strong themes of redemption and following God's will even if it's hard. The prose is very nicely written and you'll get a strong "cottagecore" vibe from reading this, which was interesting to see! I also appreciated the themes Lynn incorporated into the story, as well as seeing how the dysfunction of the kingdom's leadership affected the villagers. However, the characters just felt a bit one-dimensional to me. I love characters that you can really grow attached to and that just wasn't there for some reason; may just be me. I would have loved to see Violet growing and learning to rely on God more for her severe anxiety, and would have appreciated a smoother character arc for Obed -- I can't get into details on that one though ;) I did very much enjoy Markus' character though! If you enjoy low-fantasy novels with a sweet romance and no concern of finding gruesome descriptions or language, this one's for you!

  18. 4 out of 5

    Sarah

    I've enjoyed following Victoria on Instagram and honestly, sometimes I forget that she is a writer! She does so much and writing is only ONE of the many things she is talented at. This book was not really what I was expecting. I don't know about Acotar, but this sounded like Tricia Mingerink's Blads of Acktar and I loved that so I wanted to read this. However, they are not really the same at all. That is NOT a bad thing! I'm just saying that they are very different books. Once I Knew feels like i I've enjoyed following Victoria on Instagram and honestly, sometimes I forget that she is a writer! She does so much and writing is only ONE of the many things she is talented at. This book was not really what I was expecting. I don't know about Acotar, but this sounded like Tricia Mingerink's Blads of Acktar and I loved that so I wanted to read this. However, they are not really the same at all. That is NOT a bad thing! I'm just saying that they are very different books. Once I Knew feels like it could be medieval history, rather than fantasy. It just feels like ancient Europe and I liked that a lot. But probably my favorite thing about this book was the TRUTH!!! In this world of lies that we live in, speaking the truth overtly will get you ignored. But Victoria has brilliantly woven truth into this story in a way that will maybe actually be able to get people's attention. It's like sneaking vegetables to kids. You get them hooked and THEN reveal that there is something good for them inside. Our MCs are very relatable characters - Violet especially. I kept connecting to what she was thinking and feeling and hoping that I could be as brave as her! And there is a very, very sweet relationship in this book that was so pure and honoring and lovely! Well done, Victoria! There were two things that had me not giving this a five-star rating. One, there was not much dialogue. A lot of the book is spent within the heads of the main characters. I do love a good character-driven novel where we see immense character growth, but I also love dialogue and this book was a little light on that for my taste. The second thing was how fast everything happened. Now, don't get me wrong, part of me is supremely glad we don't have to wait four books for some resolution, but the pace of the story seemed rushed at times. Without spoiling anything (hopefully), I felt like one character's change was too quick and that the climax and central conflict was resolved too easily. Now, that may just be for now and the problems might come back later. That's a distinct possibility. Maybe after you read it you'll know what I'm trying to say. I loved the two MCs and would like to have gotten to know some of the other supporting characters better, like Marcus, Fendrel, and Evergard. (Maybe also in future books???) I am supremely glad that Victoria has delved back into writing and look forward to the next instalment of The Chronicles of Elira!!! *I received an advanced copy from the author in exchange for an honest review. All opinions are my own and a favorable was not required.*

  19. 4 out of 5

    Brian McBride

    4.5 Stars “God had walked beside her in these fields. His hands on her heart as she had swung her scythe. His touch had floated to her on the breeze. His comfort toying with her hair on every gust of wind. His tears had fallen with hers in the rain, and the clatter of the leaves in the forest had signaled His presence.” Where, oh, where to begin… I honestly had very little idea what to expect going into Once I Knew by Victoria Lynn. In fact, the primary thing that drew me to the story (aside from 4.5 Stars “God had walked beside her in these fields. His hands on her heart as she had swung her scythe. His touch had floated to her on the breeze. His comfort toying with her hair on every gust of wind. His tears had fallen with hers in the rain, and the clatter of the leaves in the forest had signaled His presence.” Where, oh, where to begin… I honestly had very little idea what to expect going into Once I Knew by Victoria Lynn. In fact, the primary thing that drew me to the story (aside from my friendship with the authoress) was the sense of mission she carried for this story. I feel privileged to have seen a bit of an inside peak as to Victoria’s heart for Violet, Obed, and the world of Elira. Beyond that, my expectations were largely dictated by the way it was marketed: non-magical cottagecore fantasy. This was a highly enjoyable read. No doubt about that. As someone who generally reads fast-paced fiction, I’m not accustomed to stories that are (subjectively) slower. I don’t even know if that’s the right way to describe Once I Knew, and I certainly don’t mean it to be negative. But if you can only read fast-paced, adrenaline-pumping stories, this may not be the story for you. The reason is… Once I Knew is a character story. The characters are at the heart of the plot. As they should be! But it plays out in this story in a very unique way. Where the plot and the external happenings are almost a reflection – or a parallel – of what’s going on in the characters’ hearts and minds. For example, in a scene where Violet is in the midst of an emotional breakdown after /that/ revelation, a piece of wood splinters her finger. Maybe it’s just me, but this was such a beautiful way to tell the story. In fact, much of the story is somewhat internalized and small in scale. (Again, not in a bad way.) The primary setting is Violet’s homestead, and the central focus of the story is actually how Violet and Obed react, grow, and change in their new environment. In regards to the character development, it was perfectly paced. Reflecting back on the story, their development felt so organic and natural. Nothing in this story was rushed. Nothing was overlooked. The characters were intentional and deliberate in their growth. It was such a joy to read. As for the environment, I was incredibly intrigued by the world of Elira. Not much information is given regarding the history or landscape of the world. The most compelling aspect of the world is that it seems to almost be an alternative “middle ages” moreso than a fantasy. As far as I know, the characters in Once I Knew read the same Bible as we do. Going so far as to actually reference Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego. Which really got my gears turning as I tried to fit Elira into our known world. It was fun kind of picturing how Biblical history might fit into a world similar to but vastly different than our own. In terms of both pacing and prose, Once I Knew reads like your favorite classic literature. In fact, it often reminded me of Pride and Prejudice. The prose was matter-of-fact. Simple and elegant. In that it reminded me of Little House on the Prairie. The overall sense I got from the story was a sort of blend of Elizabeth Bennett and Laura Ingalls. Don’t ask me way – that’s just the vibe I got, and I was living for it. There’s just something very timeless about the way Victoria writes. Her prose is neither overly complex nor does it suffer from the air of self-importance that afflicts many of the most popular fantasy tales. There are many times throughout the story where both the characters and the prose are just #Relatable™. Especially in regards to the characters’ faith. Victoria does an incredible job centering Violet and Obed’s journey around the cross. I have read few other novels as Spirit-filled as Once I Knew. Even so far as to illustrate a character actually praying in tongues. I immediately messaged Victoria after reading that scene, because it so moved me. While so much of the American Church busies itself ignoring, dismissing, or outright mocking the Holy Spirit and His presence/supernatural activity in our lives, those of us who walk in the reality of Acts might see a bit of ourselves in Violet. In her boldness. Even in her struggle as she reconciles who she knows God to be and who she knows she ought to be with where she finds herself in her fear and pain. This is, without doubt, a Spirit-filled story. That alone makes it a gem among stones. Where Christian fiction is commercialized and sanitized faith and the Holy Spirit, Victoria Lynn made it her mission to offer something more - something that burns with the same fire of zeal, passion, and Pentecost that burned in the heart of the Early Church. And it is the message of faith in the midst of loss, of courage in the face of fear, that rings throughout this story. Obed’s story of redemption struck a cord with me. I’ve been him. I’ve been in shameful places. I’ve been in dark places. But by the grace or God, He picked me up and turned me around. But the devil is a liar who comes daily to whisper deception in the ears of those with scars in their past, and as Obed cried out to God that he might be counted as worthy of the calling, I felt my own prayers over the years reflected in his heart, in his cry, in his desperation. Once I Knew feels like an invitation. A prelude. A welcome to a new world. A new environment not so unlike our own that we cannot place ourselves at the edge of Raintamount Forest, or see ourselves tilling the Frell fields. A world where the crushing weight of darkness drives men in power to oppress those beneath them. In a way, it feels almost like a prophetic picture of our own culture. But there is hope. All throughout its pages, the hope of the Gospel is evident in Violet’s heart, in Obed’s transformation, and in their calling to serve and save Elira. Content Warning: Some scenes of violence; some brief and non-explicit mentions of a character’s past promiscuity; a character fears they may be assaulted by a Kingsman on a couple occasions; no profanity or explicit sex whatsoever.

  20. 5 out of 5

    Eliza Noel

    I'm in love with Obed. Favorite thing about this book... watching the characters grow in their relationships with God. Victoria has such a lovely descriptive way of writing. If you enjoy fantasy I 100% recommend Once I knew. I'm in love with Obed. Favorite thing about this book... watching the characters grow in their relationships with God. Victoria has such a lovely descriptive way of writing. If you enjoy fantasy I 100% recommend Once I knew.

  21. 4 out of 5

    Megan McCullough

    There aren't enough words to describe now much I loved this book! It's painful but beautiful. The romance is *chef's kiss* Tropes: enemies-to-lovers don't touch her slowwwwww burn sweet romance There aren't enough words to describe now much I loved this book! It's painful but beautiful. The romance is *chef's kiss* Tropes: enemies-to-lovers don't touch her slowwwwww burn sweet romance

  22. 5 out of 5

    Kaileyanne Shay

    I read this book in 3 hours and 40 minutes. I loved the characters in this book! It was so sweet to watch their progression and growth! I loved how open-ended and also satisfying the ending was. The author definitely left room for book 2! I don't think this book was my cup of tea. And here's why- I really didn't care for this style of writing. I found myself very frustrated with the slow pace and all the pages spent in monologging. I love fast-paced books that are high in action and witty banter. T I read this book in 3 hours and 40 minutes. I loved the characters in this book! It was so sweet to watch their progression and growth! I loved how open-ended and also satisfying the ending was. The author definitely left room for book 2! I don't think this book was my cup of tea. And here's why- I really didn't care for this style of writing. I found myself very frustrated with the slow pace and all the pages spent in monologging. I love fast-paced books that are high in action and witty banter. That was not this book. I do recognize that as a 24 year-old this book might just be too young for me. I will be recommending it to my little sister in a couple of years (and I hope she can understand the plot through all the unnecessary big words) I couldn't relate to any of the characters. And I wanted to! I felt like they were SO wishy-washy and dramatic and it was off-putting. I didn't like the romance. Let me clarify- I LOVED the clean romance perspective. I LOVED how there was nothing grimy or forward in this book! I just really didn't see WHY there was romance in here at all. I get it. Violet was tired of carrying all the weight on her own. But at the end of the book she had the freedom to go wherever she wanted and do whatever she wanted. And really its not like the attraction and connection would benefit Obed. For obvious reasons. Overall, this book (like most christian books) has a plot and storyline that is a young YA that would be great for the 10-15 age range IF ONLY it was written for that age group. It has plenty of "stuffing" in it to get the characters from point A to point B. But it just didn't do it for me. I have never published a book so I can only imagine how difficult it is to get the story right. However, the excitement I had for this book caused a major let down. I am a bit disappointed that this wasn't what I hoped. I am thankful I bought it and will be recommending to younger ones in my life for sure! And I appreciate any and all clean fantasy on the market. You go Victoria! I can't wait to read the next one!

  23. 5 out of 5

    Katie Marie

    (3.5 stars) Once I knew was such a sweet, inspirational story! I really enjoyed it and appreciated the message of faith in it. It's refreshing to read a book that doesn't shy away from putting in Christianity but instead has the characters beliefs prevalent in the story. I had some issues with the book and will get into that some later, but for the most part I really enjoyed it! I loved how Victoria wrote a fantasy book that didn't actually have any magic in it. Don't get me wrong, I love me some (3.5 stars) Once I knew was such a sweet, inspirational story! I really enjoyed it and appreciated the message of faith in it. It's refreshing to read a book that doesn't shy away from putting in Christianity but instead has the characters beliefs prevalent in the story. I had some issues with the book and will get into that some later, but for the most part I really enjoyed it! I loved how Victoria wrote a fantasy book that didn't actually have any magic in it. Don't get me wrong, I love me some magic, but it was nice to just read a medieval story set in new fantasy lands instead of Europe. I loved the world building and think Victoria did a great job with that! Violet was such a sweet, kindhearted girl, and I loved how much care she put into everything she did, whether that was taking care of Granny, tending the fields, or rescuing the injured stranger despite the danger. I liked Obed, though I feel like his character development could've been written better, but more on that later. I liked how he wasn't afraid to stand up for what was right and was willing to work for what he wanted. Granny was so sweet, and my heart broke for her and Violet and their situation! Victoria wrote Granny's dementia so well, and it was hard to see how broken her mind was. Marcus and Fendrel were great side characters as well! Once I knew was pretty clean, the romance going no further than handholding, a man threatened to take advantage of Violet, but nothing happened and it was handled well, and several instances of the word hell, but not in a cussing way, more like "all hell broke loose", though a few were a little too close to cussing in my opinion. The evil Kingsmen would beat people up often, but it never got gory in any way. While I really liked Victoria's writing style and had several instances where her poetic descriptions wowed me, there was multiple times where I'd have to reread a sentence a few times because it wasn't written correctly and I had a hard time figuring out what was happening. And though her writing wasn't tellish, we were told vs showed things about the characters that really should've been shown. For example, we were told Violet and Obed fell in love, but had nothing to back up that statement. They'd barely even talked in their few interactions, and suddenly they were both realizing they were in love. Because of that, I had a hard time believing the romance and wasn't too invested in it. We were just told every now and then that they loved each other, but weren't shown that in their actions, thoughts, or feelings. And then I won't say any name for spoilers, but when a character had their conversion to Christianity, it was just so unbelievable. We're told that Violet and Granny read the Bible aloud, but not until right before the character's conversion and weren't shown any of it. Then suddenly this character believes with no evidence to their having been told about Christ or God. I don't know, it was just hard to believe and so made me skeptical every time it was brought up. The last thing is that we're told Obed was a sinful, drinking womanizer in the past, but even though he changes after meeting Violet, he never struggles with it at all. He's the perfect gentleman and Christian throughout the entire book, yet we're supposed to believe he used to be this vile man. That being said, I did still really enjoy this book and was kept engaged the entire time! I look forward to reading more from Victoria Lynn and am excited to see what else she has in store for this series. Once I knew is a clean, Christian, nonmagical fantasy novel that I'd recommend to anyone who loves a gripping, inspirational medieval story!

  24. 5 out of 5

    Flora

    I read this as a beta read long before it came out. I was stoked at every turn! A lot of people will be looking for these details and statistics about the book: - No magic what so ever. (Love that about the book.) -No kissing. (Also love that. There is a hint of romance and talk of liking somebody but that is as far as it goes.) -It is a series so the end is a little bit of a cliffhanger, but not too bad. (Especially if the next book is already released.) -It was packed. Very packed with lots of act I read this as a beta read long before it came out. I was stoked at every turn! A lot of people will be looking for these details and statistics about the book: - No magic what so ever. (Love that about the book.) -No kissing. (Also love that. There is a hint of romance and talk of liking somebody but that is as far as it goes.) -It is a series so the end is a little bit of a cliffhanger, but not too bad. (Especially if the next book is already released.) -It was packed. Very packed with lots of action. -The violence wasn't high nor described too much. Less than the Blades of Acktar, maybe more like The Kingdom series or Chronicles of Narnia. -No bad or inappropriate language was in the book at all. *Slight spoiler* There was one time a woman was cornered by bad guys, but nothing happened or was thought besides the the insecurity of her safety going out alone. In all reality, I LOVED THIS BOOK it was soooooo good and I'd recommend it HIGHLY.

  25. 4 out of 5

    Jana Tenbrook (Reviews from the Stacks)

    Once I Knew is a beautiful story filled with complex characters, set in an interesting and understandable new world, and which draws out themes of identity, relationship, and purpose. From the beginning and all the way through, I wanted to know the characters and world better and more deeply; not because it wasn’t well developed (it was!) but because the details were compelling and I wanted to get to know them the way I want to get to know a new friend. Violet especially, as the protagonist, is Once I Knew is a beautiful story filled with complex characters, set in an interesting and understandable new world, and which draws out themes of identity, relationship, and purpose. From the beginning and all the way through, I wanted to know the characters and world better and more deeply; not because it wasn’t well developed (it was!) but because the details were compelling and I wanted to get to know them the way I want to get to know a new friend. Violet especially, as the protagonist, is a wonderfully developed character. Reading Once I Knew is taking an adventure that tugs at your heartstrings in more ways than one. It is beautiful yet realistic, encouraging and grounded; I highly recommend it to readers of light fantasy or historical fiction. Extended review posted on Reviews From the Stacks.

  26. 4 out of 5

    nora the contemplator

    This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here. So. Where to start? Things I liked: It was a very deep story of redemption, woven with themes of love and faith. Obed was such an interesting character, I loved his sort of Saul-to-Paul transformation. Guilt is a heavy factor in his road to redemption but i love that in the end, he didn’t let it get to him. In God, He was made new. The old has gone. I wish we would have gotten more about his past in a way. I felt like it was just skimmed through, superficially. But overall, I just love he was a So. Where to start? Things I liked: It was a very deep story of redemption, woven with themes of love and faith. Obed was such an interesting character, I loved his sort of Saul-to-Paul transformation. Guilt is a heavy factor in his road to redemption but i love that in the end, he didn’t let it get to him. In God, He was made new. The old has gone. I wish we would have gotten more about his past in a way. I felt like it was just skimmed through, superficially. But overall, I just love he was a big cinnamon roll who loved deeply and called Violet his FLOWER QUEEN, LIKE ✋🏻✋🏻😭😭 Things I disliked: I really wanted to like Violet. But I just found myself begrudgingly annoyed by her most of time. She had extreme anxiety to the point that it weighed heavily on me. And, after reading Mockingjay aka The Hunger Games, I can say I really don’t like that. Half of the time, she just felt like a hopeless case for me and that’s exactly how I felt for Katniss the whole entire book of Mockingjay. I wish there was more hope and happiness for her. Her “character development” just felt really rushed and it didn’t help in the liking factor. Another thing, I found sort of unrealistic, was God speaking to them. For a whole entire page. Like there was a whole page of just God speaking to Obed which left me baffled. Like I know God can manifest himself in any way He wants. So I just thought that maybe she could have taken a different, more creative route. It’s just God spoke to them like that so many times, an alternative way would have been a bit more believable? Idk, it just weirded me out. Also, I am a hopeless romantic so yes, it might annoy some of you, but I really wanted a kiss. I also felt Obed’s love went deeper way than Violet’s. Maybe because all we saw of Violet was her internal war and not much dialogue or other thoughts, expect her burdens. I felt bad for her. I also wished to know about the side characters but hopefully the next book will say more! I will be reading the next book in at his series though, because I find this world very intriguing with so much unreleased potential! ✨ 3 out of 5 stars “You are all the dowry that I desire and all the wealth I could ever possess. Nothing else compares to the wealth of your spirit and the strength of your heart. I love you with all that is within me, my flower. Only let me show you and I will cherish you for all of my days.” *s w o o n s* 🤩✨ *I received an ARC of this book in exchange for an honest review.*

  27. 5 out of 5

    Marissa

    Ugg, what to say about this book...I got to beta read it this and my head is still spinning. The story is so interesting and unique, I've never read a book like it! The descriptions were wow! There were several times when I was like 'is this a Montgomery book?' It alternates between Violet's and Obed's point of views. The changes were well done, there was only I think one instance when I was confused at whose head I was in. And oh my gosh, the timing that things got revealed was amazing! I got t Ugg, what to say about this book...I got to beta read it this and my head is still spinning. The story is so interesting and unique, I've never read a book like it! The descriptions were wow! There were several times when I was like 'is this a Montgomery book?' It alternates between Violet's and Obed's point of views. The changes were well done, there was only I think one instance when I was confused at whose head I was in. And oh my gosh, the timing that things got revealed was amazing! I got thrown for loops and would gasp audibly several times. I put off reading it several times not because I was bored of it, but because I didn't want to finish it, though I did stay up way to late several times reading it. Violet is my hero! She is a broken mess but also so firm in her faith. She is a strong woman who takes initiate and stands firm for what is right, but that strength doesn't shadow her femineity or her dependance on the Lord. That is sadly such a rarity to find in fiction books. Obed was the other main character. He has amnesia and is searching to find out who he is. He is so good and I adore him. Please read this book even if just so you can fangirl with me about Obed. Also we can't forget the lovely supporting characters; Granny-an adorable, lovely old lady. You are going to love her! Marcus-Violet's childhood bestie, a kind sweetheart of a doctor's assistant. Fendrel-a doctor who is *chef's kiss*. Everard-the adorable big man who is really a teddy bear trope is done so well with this guy. Now I could talk about this a LOT more but then I'd probably end up spoiling everything. So imma shut up and just say if you like kingdom fantasy fiction with action, adventure, love, and faith, you will love this book! C O N T E N T: Content-wise this book is pretty clean. There is usage of the word h*ll (normally in the sense of going through h*ll). Several injuries minorly described. A death that gets described minutely-didn't bug me, but some details are involved.

  28. 5 out of 5

    Stephanie Stoll

    Once I Knew is a YA non-magical medieval fantasy with a sweet romance too. I thought the two main characters both had decent character development and I liked reading from both their POVs. Many of the side characters were given enough depth as well so that they didn’t feel two-dimensional. The plot was mostly predictable for the kind of story it is, but there were a few unexpected moments that still surprised me. The added difficulties for Violet due to her grandmother’s failing memories and conf Once I Knew is a YA non-magical medieval fantasy with a sweet romance too. I thought the two main characters both had decent character development and I liked reading from both their POVs. Many of the side characters were given enough depth as well so that they didn’t feel two-dimensional. The plot was mostly predictable for the kind of story it is, but there were a few unexpected moments that still surprised me. The added difficulties for Violet due to her grandmother’s failing memories and confusion really added an extra level of reality and real-life struggle to the story. This book gives me basically the same vibes as the two Melanie Dickerson books I’ve read. If you’re a fan of those stories, you should give Once I Knew a read. I think you’ll like it. As for content, except for one instance of “h-ll” which was used in a way that just barely crossed the line into cussing, there was nothing of concern. My rating: ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️ It’s a solid 4 star read! I look forward to reading more from Victoria Lynn! I voluntarily reviewed a complimentary copy from the author. All opinions are my own.

  29. 4 out of 5

    Jordan Taylor

    "Doing the right thing did not always mean it was done without fear." This novel by Victoria Lynn is one about salvation and a changed heart. An action-packed page-turner, I greatly admired the author's ability to continuously build tension. Questions buzzed in my mind for the first half of the novel, making it difficult to put down! (Who is the injured man that Violet rescues? Will he remember who he is? And what's going to happen to Violet and her grandmother when he does?) Violet was an extrem "Doing the right thing did not always mean it was done without fear." This novel by Victoria Lynn is one about salvation and a changed heart. An action-packed page-turner, I greatly admired the author's ability to continuously build tension. Questions buzzed in my mind for the first half of the novel, making it difficult to put down! (Who is the injured man that Violet rescues? Will he remember who he is? And what's going to happen to Violet and her grandmother when he does?) Violet was an extremely likeable protagonist. She had a great balance of wit and grit. I loved the character of Marcus and would love to see a spin-off novel one day! I appreciated the author weaving in Scripture and faith throughout the novel. The only reasons I didn't give this 5 stars are because one character's come-to-God moment seemed to happen a little too quickly, and I didn't understand why no one recognized the man. Besides that, this was a wonderful read and I loved the author's writing style. *This book was given to me free of charge in exchange for my honest review. The thoughts and opinions expressed in this review are my own and in no way influenced by the author or publisher.

  30. 5 out of 5

    Charisa

    3.5 Stars!!! This was such a sweet and emotional book. I love that Victoria is paving the way for more Christian fantasy stories that don't shy away from hard subjects, and at the same time leave you feeling renewed and encouraged in your faith. I adored the characters and the growth they went through. There is one chapter in particular that made me cry! Violet and Obed have such a tender and loving connection and I really liked that it was a slow-burn, and that there was a lot of time dedicated 3.5 Stars!!! This was such a sweet and emotional book. I love that Victoria is paving the way for more Christian fantasy stories that don't shy away from hard subjects, and at the same time leave you feeling renewed and encouraged in your faith. I adored the characters and the growth they went through. There is one chapter in particular that made me cry! Violet and Obed have such a tender and loving connection and I really liked that it was a slow-burn, and that there was a lot of time dedicated to examining why they love each other. Victoria pours a lot of passion into her writing, and she does a great job of really breaking open and examining what the characters are feeling and thinking. I was intrigued by the world and glad we got to see a little more of it later in the book. I do think some points were repetitive at times, and certain scenes drawn out a little longer than needed which took away from some of the tension and action, and could disrupt the pacing. It's definitely more of a character-driven story than plot, so that keep that in mind! There were a few times where Violet's emotions seemed more than a person could handle and I think she fainted too often. I get that this was a clean book, but I wish we'd learned more examples about Elgon's past life to really understand how far he'd gone. It was a lot of telling and not showing, and besides the women and drinking, we don't get to see much else of what kind of person he was, just repeated lines that he'd been pursuing empty pleasures, but not helping us really see the transformation take place. I think some flashbacks would have really helped in this area and help us get to know him a little more. Thank you for writing such a beautiful book, Victoria! I can't wait for book 2 about Marcus! You've got an amazing gift and I can't wait to see your writing continue to grow!

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