Karen Witemeyer. Heart on the Line. Bethany House, 2017. See here to buy the book.
Grace Mallory works at Harper’s Station in the late 1800’s. She is a
telegrapher. She has been having telegraphic conversations with Amos
Bledsoe, who works at Western Union over a hundred miles away from her.
Amos is a bit of a misfit: he is thin, wears glasses, and rides his
bicycle. He does not attract the ladies of his town, who prefer the
muscular type. Amos wonders if Grace could be the one. Meanwhile,
Grace enjoys hearing Amos’ stories about his family.
Grace has been keeping a low profile. Her father was shot not long
before, and she suspects that his murder had to do with the wealthy
Chaucer Haversham. Chaucer’s father, Tremont, had a daughter from a
previous marriage, a marriage with a woman who was not of his
socio-economic class. The precise location and identity of this
daughter is unknown, since she was given away soon after her mother’s
death. Tremont’s will left a lot of money to his daughter, and Chaucer
does not like that because, of course, he wants all of the money.
Chaucer wants to find that will and destroy it. But Grace’s father hid
it in a book and absconded with it. That was why he was shot, right
after giving the books to Grace, who has diligently hid them since then.
Another character is Helen. Helen dislikes and distrusts men, on
account of her own experience growing up with an abusive father. Helen
finds a wounded man, and the wounded man rambles in his state of
delerium about protecting his sister Rachel. That indicates to Helen
that he may be a man she can trust. But who is he? And does his story
intersect with Grace’s story?
This book is the second book of the Harper’s Station series. It was preceded by Book 1, No Other Will Do, and a novella. Characters from both works appear in Heart on the Line,
but readers can probably understand Book 2 without reading the others
because Book 2 focuses primarily on Amos, Grace, and Helen.
I liked the first half of the book more than the second half. The
first half had reflections on the part of the characters and a
sophisticated prose, and the author really drew me into the story by
highlighting the characters’ vulnerabilities. The stories about the
past and the flashbacks made the characters more realistic and sometimes
provided a mysterious aura to the story.
The second half had the obligatory action scenes and got rather mushy
towards the end. Perhaps it would have been better had there been more
things going on, or mysteries to solve, or journeys.
The book’s description contained a sentence that made me want to read
the book: “…Amos must shed the cocoon of his quiet nature to become the
hero Grace requires.” I did not see much of that in this book. Amos
was a nerd, but he was not exactly timid. He knew who he was and did
not hesitate to protect those he loves. Maybe I would have preferred
more of a struggle on Amos’ part: an attempt to overcome fear and to be a
hero. But, as the story stands, Amos is still lovable on account of
his strengths, particularly his unpretentious nature.
Helen’s story was good because, although she was a Christian, she had
to struggle with her distrust of men. She has flashbacks that indicate
the source of that distrust, and her faith struggles are highlighted.
That said, her trust of the man she found was a little rushed. Perhaps
the book would have been better had he told more of his own story.
I received a complimentary copy of this book from the publisher. My review is honest.