After his fiancee runs off with his best friend, Matthew Dawson decides to leave Kentucky and make his way to Oregon. His sister, Elizabeth and her husband, James, used to dream about going to Oregon to join his family who were already there. When he died from cholera, the dream died with him. That was three years ago. She decided she and her children would travel with Matthew and fulfill the dream made so many years ago.
Their parents were very upset when they found out, as their families had been in Kentucky several generations. Eventually, they decided they would make the trip with them. They sold their land and most of their belongings. Brady, their hired hand and freed slave accompanied them.
They joined a wagon train and the adventure began. There were a variety of personalities among the travelers, some helpful and kind, some very unpleasant. It all made for a very interesting book, and gave the reader an insight to the dangers they faced. The book takes place in 1856. If you like reading historical fiction, you will enjoy this book. There is a little romance, but not overwhelming.
This is the first book in the Homeward on the Oregon Trail series.
Starting out in Kentucky in 1854, this is the best "wagons west" book I've read for ages. Melody Carlson somehow manages to portray the monotony of long months on the trail, the camaraderie and sense of community amongst the travelers, and the potential for crisis and tragedy, all in a lovely package that is easy to read. We come to know Elizabeth Martin and her two children, her parents, and her brothers as if they were our own family. It is not endless boredom, it is not crisis after crisis, but somehow a finely balanced mix of both, with deep characters and life-lessons thrown in for good measure. Looking forward to completing the series
Melody Carlson in her new book, "Westward Hearts" Book One in the Homeward on the Oregon Trail series published by Harvest House Publishers takes us into the life of Elizabeth Martin.
From the back cover: The Oregon Trail â€” Hardship or Happiness? Loneliness or Love?
Kentucky, 1856-Elizabeth Martin has mourned her husband's death for three years, but now she feels ready to fulfill the dream they had shared-to take their two children west. The dream becomes reality when her middle-aged parents and bachelor brother surprise her with the news that they want to go as well.
After converting three of their best wagons for an overland journey and thoroughly outfitting them with ample supplies and tools, the family travels from Kentucky to Kansas City, where they join a substantial wagon train. Elizabeth soon draws attention from fellow traveler Will Bramford as well as Eli Kincaid, the group's handsome but mysterious guide.
Will Elizabeth's close-knit family survive the challenges they face on the Oregon Trail? And is this young widow truly ready for new love-even as she pursues the dream she shared with her late husband?
Depending on where you picked it up the Oregon Trail was 2,000 miles long. Since Wagon Trains simply could not cover lots of mileage in a day this whole trip took months. When you have that much time on your hands a good author can tell lots of story and Melody Carlson is a very good author. As long time readers of this blog know I like Westerns and, most definitely, "Westward Hearts" is a Western. Wagon Trains, natural perils along the trail and forts this one has it all. And it is a romance too. Though which suitor Elizabeth is going to choose is anybody's guess. After all this is going to be a trilogy, can't give everything away in the first book, right? "Westward Hearts" is great fun to read. Ms. Carlson has a great way of telling the story and moving it along at a nice pace. Her characters are wonderful and she gives them life and unique voices. All this and in a Western. What more can anyone desire? A really enjoyable read.
Disclosure of Material Connection: I received this book free from Harvest House Publishers. I was not required to write a positive review. The opinions I have expressed are my own. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission's 16 CFR, Part 255: "Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising."
This is the first book in a series that follows Elizabeth and her family has they head west on the Oregon Trail. I enjoyed this book quite a bit but also found it lacking in places.
What I liked: I really liked Elizabeth and her whole family. They are nice people and I am looking forward to reading about their adventures through out the series. I also really enjoyed the depth of the information about traveling the Oregon Trail. You can tell the author spent a lot of time researching and it was very enjoyable to learn how people migrated west back then.
What I did not like: This book is only told from Elizabeth's prospective and I was kind of disappointed in this. It would have been nice to get to know Eli a little or even tell more of the story between Elizabeth's brother and Jess. For me having only Elizabeth tell the story left the story a little flat. Also we are going to be with this family for the whole series so why not add more character depth.
Over all this was a good book but not great. I think had there been more people telling the story in this book I would have easily given it 5 stars but I still give it 4 because its well written and quite interesting. I am looking forward to the next book in this series to see how the trip west goes. This is a very enjoyable and factual Historical Fiction.