Heart on the Line by Karen Witemeyer (review)

heartontheline_witemeyer_bethanyhouseIn what is likely to remain a favorite of her novels, Karen Witemeyer has written a historical romance that feels current while remaining true to an 1890’s setting.

All was fair in love and cycling. (p.38)

The story grabbed me from the start, as events involving a meeting with a Pinkerton agent (I do have a fondness for Pinkertons in fiction) lead to Grace Mallory seeking refuge in the Harper’s Station women’s colony as their telegraph operator.  When her location is compromised, the man she has been conversing with over the telegraph line after hours hops on a hired mule and rides into town.

She was in the path of an oncoming storm and needed to know whom she could depend on when the waters got tough…He aimed to be that man for Grace Mallory too.  If she’d let him. (p.83)

Amos Bledsoe is, like Grace, a telegraph operator.  Basically a 19th century tech nerd, who prefers his bicycle to other forms of transportation.  The moment he worried that he might be “cat-fished,” a fear that Grace shares, I couldn’t help but adore him.

That was the peril of being a telegraph operator: one could strike up a conversation or a friendship – or something more – with someone dozens of miles away, a person one had never seen.  How easy would it be for this person to misrepresent themselves, to claim to be a young, unmarried beauty when in fact she was a middle-aged mother of five with poor hygiene and a twisted sense of humor. (p.20)

The relationship that slowly and tentatively develops between Grace and Amos is tender and sweet.  The danger presented by those who are after Grace lends a bit of suspense and the small mystery of the hidden documents held my interest.  Interactions with characters from the previous installments of the series felt unforced and their presence in the story was quite enjoyable.

The secondary storyline involving an injured man and Helen, a member of the Harper’s Station colony who has good reason to mistrust men, was touching and added to my enjoyment.  It does what a good secondary storyline should, in that it adds to the reader’s enjoyment, is well developed and interesting enough that it could stand on its own, but instead supports and complements the primary storyline.

“I’m…a…trying to clean our wound.”  Why was she the one embarrassed?  It was his fault they were in this predicament…She scowled at him.  “You think you can manage to stay still long enough for me to finish?”

His mustache twitched.  Was he smiling at her?  It was hard to tell with that giant caterpillar on his lip. (p.147)

Highly recommended for those who enjoy a sweet romance between a shy heroine and an unexpected hero with action, adventure, and a good dose of faith.  Also recommended is that the series be read in order, beginning with No Other Will Do (review), then the novella Worth the Wait (review).

From the Publisher:

When Danger Arrives, It’s More Than Just Her Heart on the Line

Grace Mallory is tired of hiding. She hungers for a normal life, perhaps even a suitor like two of her friends in Harper’s Station have found. But when the man she believes responsible for her father’s death discovers her whereabouts, survival takes priority.

Amos Bledsoe prefers bicycles to horses and private conversations over the telegraph wire to social gatherings with young ladies who see him as nothing more than an oddity. His fellow telegrapher, the mysterious Miss G, has been the ideal companion. For months, their friendship–dare he believe, courtship?–over the wire has fed his hope that he has finally found the woman God intends for him. However, when he intercepts an ominous message and discovers her life is in peril, Amos must shed the cocoon of his quiet nature to become the hero Grace requires.

Heart on the Line (Ladies of Harper’s Station, #2) by Karen Witemeyer | Bethany House, June 2017 | paperback, 336 pages

I voluntarily received a finished copy for review from the publisher.  All opinions expressed are my own.


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