Reviewed by Liz Konkel for Readers' Favorite
Bind Not the Heart by Aleksandra Layland is a Windflower Saga novella. Sister Ermentrude has been introduced previously in other Windflower Saga novels, but Bind Not the Heart is her story. As Sister Ermentrude grows up, readers meet her family, friends, and follow her life until her goddaughter Keridwen, Duchess of Ansgar, comes into her care. Layland includes Ermentrude's later years, as well as diving into characters that are seen in Of Wisdom and Valor.
Though this is Ermentrude's origin story, it's bigger than just her story as Aleksandra Layland goes into many other characters and tells their stories. Every character and their story has a feel of going in a complete circle, with every thread somehow finding a way to connect back to Ermentrude. Everyone is connected as a few generations are followed throughout a series of years, giving a history of their lives. The characters form a larger family, even if they aren't always entirely aware of their connections. By meeting these other characters, those that influenced her, it shows how she became the person she is. When Ermentrude sees the poverty and conditions of a town she visits, she's so affected by what she sees that she chooses to devote her life to others.
Layland doesn't shy away from tragedy and loss, but also finds the beauty and love in each thread of the plot. The place she's from has an idealistic feel that comes off much like a paradise, especially when Bogumil visits his aunt during the festival for the first time. Through his eyes, it's seen as a peaceful and joyful paradise where he meets the love of his life. Bind Not the Heart is full of love and life, as well as tragedy and hardships, in this lovely tale of history, family, and what connects us together.