I picked this novel up to read with a little trepidation. While the premise felt compelling, I haven’t been a fan of the book and novella I previously read by this author.
Though I have a passing familiarity with the names and events of the Whitman Massacre, having read about it and visited the historical site in the past, I found myself looking to see if I just hadn’t remembered the Flanagan sisters. These are 19th century characters that feel so real, even when they aren’t.
“I suppose it comes down to this. Revenge or even justice won’t undo what happened. It won’t bring the dead back to life or restore what was stolen, and while it might satisfy the requirements of the law, it satisfies very little for the heart.” ~Hope (pg. 161)
Peterson’s treatment of the trial and events surrounding it are well done, and differing attitudes and opinions of the times are quickly and deftly shown without becoming the sole focus of the novel.
There was an ongoing conflict of opinions in the East regarding slavery as well as the undeclared war on the Indians. No matter where Lance turned, if the color of a man’s skin was other than white, he was on the losing side of the battle. (p.34)
Hope Flanagan’s reactions at the trial and, in particular, the events that lead to her meeting Lance Kenner, the Army Lieutenant from New Orleans in charge of the trial’s security, were so riveting that they have earned this book a place on my keeper shelf.
It is in the second half of the book that I felt less fascination for the story, as the history diminished and more typical inspirational and historical romance plotting took hold. As Hope and Lance each begin to realize that they do want more than friendship, the book turns a corner and definitely has a more evangelical bent. While the doubts that Hope and Lance express feel authentic, the conversations that lead up to Lance’s conversion, while well written, feel a bit plopped in for the sake of the message. This threw me out of the story as I had to stop and wonder whether a 19th century man who had been raised by Christian parents and attending church would never have heard the message of salvation. The ending, as well, was not on par with the first half of the book. It felt a little hokey and basically a “let’s summarize” conclusion.
That said, this combination of resisting attraction and friends-to-love interest between Hope and Lance is among my favorite treatments of these romantic story arcs.
Hope narrowed her eyes and cocked her head slightly. “You haven’t forgotten that we’re just friends, have you? I’m not at all interested in romantic notions, and I’m certainly not looking for a husband.”
“Nor I a wife. You are quite free of emotional entanglements with me.” But even as he spoke, Lance wasn’t completely convinced of his words. He liked Hope very much–perhaps too much. He felt he’d seen her at her worst and would like to witness her at her best. (p.153)
Hope in particular has solid grounds behind her statement that she is never looking to marry, having been so traumatized by the events of the Whitman Massacre, her time as a hostage, and the repercussions of having been so personally victimized by one of the chiefs that are put on trial.
Highly recommended for those who enjoy real history and strong fictional characters in their Inspirational Historical Romances. I’m looking forward to reading the first and ongoing books in this series. This series might be better read in order, though, as I was constantly confusing the names of Grace, Hope, Mercy, and Faith. Luckily, the book title was at the top of each left-hand page to remind me.
From the Publisher:
Shackled by Her Past, One Woman Searches for Healing, Forgiveness, and Love
Hope Flanagan survived the massacre at the Whitman Mission, but at terrible personal cost. Safe now in Oregon City, the gentle rhythm of tending her family’s flock of sheep is slowly healing her mind and soul, but her precarious new peace is shattered when Hope is asked to testify against the Cayuse responsible for the massacre. She’s not sure she can bear to relive the events of those horrific days, but neither can she risk her attackers being released if she doesn’t tell her story.
As Hope struggles to make her choice, an Army lieutenant named Lance Kenner becomes an unexpected ray of light in her life. Perhaps she is still capable of love after all. But will Lance still want her if he learns the whole truth of what happened to her at the mission? Or are the secrets that lie in his own past more troubling?
Beloved Hope (Heart of the Frontier, #2) by Tracie Peterson | Bethany House, June 2017 | 336 pages, paperback
I voluntarily received a finished copy of this book for review from the publisher. All opinions expressed are my own.