by Jody Hedlund
Bethany House, April 2013
About the Book
Recently widowed Annalisa Werner has the feeling her husband was murdered but can’t prove it. Alone with her young daughter in 1881 Michigan, she has six months left to finish raising the money needed to pay off the land contract her husband purchased, and the land is difficult to manage by herself. She needs a husband. With unmarried men scarce, her father sends a letter to his brother in the Old Country, asking him to find Annalisa a groom.
For nobleman Carl von Reichert, the blade of the guillotine is his fate. He’s been accused and convicted of a serious crime he didn’t commit, and his only escape is to flee to a small German community in Michigan where he’ll be safe. He secures a job on Annalisa’s farm but bumbles through learning about farming and manual labor.
Annalisa senses that Carl is harboring a secret about his past, yet she finds herself drawn to him anyway. He’s gentle, kind, and romantic—unlike any of the men she’s ever known. He begins to restore her faith in the ability to love—but her true groom is still on his way. And time is running out on them all.
This was a really enthralling story that kept me reading to the end. It held my interest for a number of reasons, and honestly, Carl was a pretty spectacular hero. I totally loved him because his personality was a big draw for me. Yeah, he was a bit snobbish at first, but that was pretty minor. Overall he was a nice guy pretty much from the beginning. I totally adored him.
The heroine, Annalisa, was precious, too. The author made her very likable, and you couldn’t help feeling sorry for her many struggles. She wasn’t ridiculously stubborn like some heroines are made out to be. She had a balanced attitude, and I loved that she didn’t believe in fairy-tale love at all and thought marriage was mainly for practical reasons. But the more she got to know Carl and saw how he exemplified sacrificial love, the more she saw that true love was possible in marriage.
The way Carl was with the Annalisa’s children was simply heartwarming, and the tenderness there made me want to sigh several times. I loved how he introduced a whole new level of respect and self-respect to Annalisa by his example. He helped her realize she was worthy of love and should be cherished. How can you not love a guy like that? I could see the temptation Carl would have to do something involving his education that was less physically taxing, but I liked how the author showed that hard work builds character. Carl learned to respect the hard working people whose backbreaking labor was how the wealthy made their money. He learned that they were not lazy but were actually tough and quite strong.
I think my favorite part of this book was the developing love between the characters and how Annalisa came to realize that her opinion mattered, that she was worth listening to, and more than that, that she was worth loving. I thought it was touching how Carl helped her deliver her baby, how he saved the dog and a ton of other things he did that were genuine and sensitive. He was simply the most emotionally attractive hero I’ve read about in a long time because of his tender heart. Great story!
Healing Hearts . . . fiction making an impact on real lives
New titles releasing in 2013: Collette’s Crusade, Learning to Trust, Somebody Help Me,
Her Innocence, and Serena’s Something