Thursday, July 6, 2017

Book Write-Up: Heart on the Line

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.

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