This final entry to Tracie Peterson’s Heart of the Frontier trilogy focuses on the youngest of the Flanagan sisters, Mercy, as she journeys to help a family friend through a difficult pregnancy.
Having survived being a hostage following the Whitman Massacre when she was twelve, the decision to join Eletta and Isaac Browning at their mission in the Rogue River valley is not made easily. Mercy and her family are justified in their fears as conflicts between whites and the local tribes are escalating, and this becomes one of the central focuses of the story. As with the previous book in the series, Beloved Hope (review), the depiction of historical events personalized through the experience of her characters is where Peterson’s writing excels. When the conflict, driven by government policies and the excuse it gave individuals, comes to the Tututni people of the Browning’s mission the reader experiences the horror of the situation from Mercy’s perspective.
Life at the mission was a hard but good life if you didn’t mind its more primitive setting. Even he had found adjusting to the isolation a little difficult. Coming from back east, where towns were plentiful and well supplied, life on the Rogue River had been a rude awakening…Mercy Flanagan would find her work cut out for her here, and Adam hated to think of what would happen if she proved to be too weak or ill-tempered to be useful.
He sighed and shook his head. He just had a feeling that this Flanagan woman was going to cause a great deal of upheaval. As far as he was concerned, she already had, and she hadn’t even arrived. (p.33)
Along with the history, there are touching and amusing scenes such as when Mercy feels led to share the message of salvation with the Tututni, or when she watches Adam Browning – the brother of Isaac and part of why Eletta had asked for Mercy in particular – playing a game with Tututni boys that ends in him fairly tackling her. Even when all of the action is over and the reader might expect the story to be wrapping up, there are still dilemmas and decisions of the heart to be made.
While the romance within this story is at times fun and sweet, it is not the main focus and that serves the story well. Adam’s initial coldness to Mercy, and the subtlety of Eletta’s matchmaking allow room for Mercy to establish herself as an individual, to form deeper relationships with the Tututni and with Faith, the adopted daughter of the Brownings, and this all allows for the story to feel richer and deeper than the typical romance.
She was all he could think about, and it grieved him to no end. (p.71)
Highly recommended for those who enjoy historical fiction based on real historical events. I am greatly enjoying this trilogy and though I prefer to read books in order, I’m glad that I still have book 1, Treasured Grace, to look forward to. Though I know what happens to Grace after the end of “her” story, it will be the journey to get there and her differing experience of the Whitman Massacre that will make it still well worth having on my shelf to read.
Cherished Mercy (Heart of the Frontier, #3) by Tracie Peterson | Bethany House, September 2017 | paperback, 320 pages
I voluntarily received a finished copy for review from Bethany House’s blogger program. All opinions expressed are my own.
From the Publisher:
As Oregon Territory teeters on the brink of armed conflict, one woman strives for peace.
Mercy Flanagan survived the Whitman Massacre as a child, and now her heart’s cry is for peace between the native peoples and the white settlers inhabiting Oregon Territory. Unfortunately, most of the settlers want the tribes removed from the land completely, one way or another.
At the request of family friend Eletta Browning, who is experiencing a difficult pregnancy, Mercy travels south to the Rogue River Valley to help. At the Browning Mission, she meets Eletta’s brother-in-law, Adam. Despite her attempts to befriend him, Adam seems determined to focus on ministering to the local tribes and keeps her at arm’s length. Why is he so intent on pushing her away?
When tragedy strikes and tensions in the territory reach the combustion point, Mercy is pushed to the limit of her strength. She and Adam will have to rely on their faith in God and on each other in order to make it out alive.