Julia Grace was pushed into a marriage that was suppose to remove her from the disreputable occupation at which her mother worked . Her mother wanted a respectable life for her daughter and so much more. Julia's husband showed her no respect and often abused her even during her pregnancy. She prayed for God's protection. Then one day husband became ill and died unexpectedly. This left her to run a cattle ranch by herself.
Her brother-in-law keeps trying to convince her to sell him the ranch and for her to take the money and move on. He even hired her ranch hands to work on his ranch leaving her without any help working her ranch. But Julia is determined to keep the ranch. It is the only real home she has ever had and it was rightfully hers.
About a year after her husband's death, a stranger stops shows up at ranch wanting water for his injured horse and possibly a place to rest the horse until it has healed. Hugh Brennan offered the beautiful young widow to work on the ranch in exchange for meals and a place to bunk in the barn. He was a hard worker and saw what needed to be done and got busy getting it done. If thought if he stayed busy hopefully it would keep his mind off Julia. He knew she was keeping her distance from him.
The author kept my attention with this story of two broken souls that have more than God in common. She also writes of secrets, betrayal, and a need for love and trust in oneself but most of all God.
This was a quick read mainly because I did not want to put the book down. I just love when a book can grab me the way this book did. My heart ached for all the trials and tribulations these two people had to endure to get to God's greater plan for their lives.
I highly recommend this book.
Disclosure: I received a copy of this book from Zondervan for review. I was in no way compensated for this review. It is my own opinion.
In the first book of the 'Where the Heart Lies' series we are introduced to a set of three siblings who, upon the death of their mother and knowing their father is a rarely present drunkard, have been sent out on an orphan train to find new homes. Unfortunately, all three were placed in different families and towns along the route. The first book is about the middle child, the eldest daughter. This second book is about Hugh Brennan -- who unfortunately didn't get far enough away from the influence of their father. As the eldest, and only boy, Hugh was kept by the first available family needing a worker, and later was retrieved by their father. With his father drinking up most of his money and rarely a steady home to stay in, Hugh ends up in prison for a short term for something his father actually did. This story starts once he is released. Determined to better himself, he has become a drifter in search of reuniting with his lost sisters.
Along the way he happens upon a widow named Julia Grace. Julia's late husband was so abusive she does not ever want to marry again. However, with her late husband's brother doing all he can to take her late-husband's ranch from her, she may have to. Having been a bit of a 'street rat' thanks to his father's influence, Hugh is surprised when he finds ranch life appealing, and the widow too.
This book is a sweet romance, featuring two main characters with pasts they would both rather forget. I feel it will appeal to both men and women who enjoy American historicals from the late 19th century - though slightly more to women.
I don't usually read romance novels, but I signed up to review this book from Zondervan that came out at the end of 2012. I get the book for free, and they get an honest review! Good deal!
I was able to finish it this past week, and I really enjoyed it! This story is a clean, well-told story of healing, forgiveness and grace. Julia Grace and Hugh Brennan were both given mothers whose sole desire was to raise their children to have good lives, to have a chance for something better. Their mothers directed them both into situations they thought would benefit their children, only to have heartache result - Julia from an abusive marriage to a man she hardly knew and Hugh from his father who sought his own gain at the expense of his son.
Julia and Hugh find each other and find true love, though both are convinced at first they do not deserve it and cannot possibly have it in their lives. Time proves them wrong, and the ending is a happy one, timed perfectly.
This was a truly refreshing read in an otherwise very busy time of year!
Betrayal is an apt title for the book, as it is something both Julia and Hugh know well. Betrayal, pain, and the love of God. Julia, now free from her husband's abuse, wants only the solitude of her Wyoming ranch. Hugh, recently free from years of imprisonment for a crime his own father committed, wants to find his sisters in Idaho. But, as Providence would have it, Hugh's horse goes lame while crossing Julia's property. She needs help on the ranch, he needs a place to stay while his horse rests, so they strike a dealâ€”he'll stay for a few weeks and then help her drive her cattle to a buyer.
Of course, you know what happens then: they gradually fall in love but don't want to admit it because of their hurt and broken pasts, there's trouble (in the form of a conniving, land greedy former brother-in-law) that threatens to drive them apart when they begin to think there might be hope, and, after all that, a confession of love, and a happy ending. I won't tell you how it happens, that would be a spoiler, but it does happen, and I enjoyed finding out how it came about.
Now that I've told you a bit about the book's storyline, here are my other comments on it:
-I like stories of wounded hearts being healed, so that's a plus.
-Encouraging spiritually with reminders of God's love for each of us, of our status as new creations, and of hope for the future.
-Likeable, admirable main characters. I always prefer heroes/heroines I can respect.
- Good supporting characters in their gracious, loving neighbors Peter and Rose Collins
-Good descriptions of the land
-Is part of Where the Heart Lives series, but stands alone.
-The frequent switching of from Hugh's to Julia's point of view was distracting. I'd prefer longer sections from each of them.
-There were too many hints from the author that they were falling in love. A few less "why should I care about her/him?" and "why was she comforted by his presence?" type of questions and comments would have improved it.
-A few less comments on how in love Rose and Peter were (there were a few sections from their points-of-view as well) would be an improvement as well. We readers get the idea.
Overall opinion: Cute, inspirational romance. I read and enjoyed the previous novel, Belonging, and look forward to next one.
Confession: I received this book, and the previous book in the series, from Zondervan Publishing in exchange for a review. However, I've striven to give an honest review.
Robin Lee Hatcher's new "Where the Heart Lives" novel series now includes, "Belonging" and "Betrayal" titles. These books are captivating, easy reads set in the late 19th century. Her writing style draws you to the characters and appropriately written for that time period. Each of these titles is primarily based on one sibling of the 3 (Hugh and Felicia) that were separated as children when orphaned. I surmise that ultimately this series will bring them together as they find each other again.
Betrayal is about Julia, a widower who lives alone on her isolated Wyoming ranch. Hugh comes into her life as a stranger, while riding his horse out west to find his sisters, from whom he was separated years ago. Hugh and Julia both struggle with deep wounds from the past, but find themselves unexpectedly drawn to one another as they seek healing from God for their painful memories and experiences. While this story is at times too ideal (primarily the Hugh character) and certainly quite predictable, it does warm your heart for the hope we have in God.
Belonging, the first in the series, was about Felicia, who leaves the home she was raised in after being orphaned, one in which she received no love. She arrives in a very small town, where she will be the children's new teacher. As this is her first position, she is fearful, but determined to be the best teacher possible. Her landlord, Colin, was one of those opposed to her coming, but he is overcome by the help Felicia gives his daughter, who struggles mightily with her reading. Her insight utlilizes her painful past experiences to help two orphaned boys. Colin and Felicia fight their strong attraction to one another, while Colin, a widower, faces his past and begins to draw near to God. Felicia is ousted as a teacher - as false rumors are spread of inappropriate behavior.
Belonging was a story one could easily be caught up into - while still somewhat predictable, and everything ending in tidy packages - it was very well written for that time period. I would certainly recommend this book, and probably the series to see how it all ends.
Martha: I have received these books free from Zondervan - these reflect my hones reviews of these books.