Two months ago, I received a request to read and review a book. Considering that I’d hounded the author for her first book before it was even published, it’s no wonder that when I got the email for book three, I said, “YES!”
Two months… surely that would be plenty of time. Right?
Except that during those two months, I had several books to write and edit. Yes, several. And then four days before the planned review date, I decided to start NaNoWriMo. #becausereasons.
Oh, and if all that wasn’t enough, I also chose to have it on a day when I had a podcast to release. See, here’s the thing. I like to read a book and review immediately. I hadn’t had time to read before now (see above), so I had to do it last night.
There’s just one problem. I also had to edit and do all the podcast stuff last night. That left me… floundering. Even worse, there was this little problem of that NaNoWriMo thing. But I started reading at about three-thirty this morning. At five, I went to bed. Got up at ten to take #7daughter to the bank, and went back to bed by one. I couldn’t sleep.
Note: links may be affiliate links that provide me with a small commission at no extra expense to you. Also, while I was provided with a review copy of this book, I also purchased it for myself.
Why Do Authors Hate Me (or at Least Hate My Need for Sleep)?
When you toss and turn because you are exhausted, but you want to read your book…
When your eyes burn, but you must keep reading…
If that’s not enough, when your kids look at you and say, “Why don’t you go to bed???”
You know that you’ve got a good–no, make that great –book in hand. Harmony on the Horizon is the third book in Kathleen Denly’s Chapparal Hearts series. I’m saying it’s her best, but when I reread the others, I may change my mind. But I doubt it.
This book deals with so much–racial tension, corruption, prejudice, self-righteousness, misplaced and erroneous teachings about the Lord. The horrors of sin. And that’s just a tiny smattering of it all.
Yet, even the ugliest bits never cross from that moment where you smell the stench of sin to being dragged through it so that it clings to you, too. Denly crafts a beautiful story (some might say several) in one can’t-put-it-down book. I know we’re supposed to be enamored most with Everett and Margaret (and as far as their personal faith journeys, theirs were my favorite!), I fell in love with Fletcher and Katie from their first introductions. Something about them reminds me a lot of Alf and Minnie from Lark Rise to Candleford. Both hold little bits of themselves that remind me of the characters, but they’re uniquely their own as well.
Harmony on the Horizon is historical fiction at its finest.
One of the things I love most about this entire series is how it takes place in a little-explored area of the country. We’re used to stories of California in the early years being up in northern California. San Francisco, Sacramento, Monterey Sutter’s Mill… Even Los Angeles gets a little attention. However, San Diego is usually reserved for contemporary romance–or maybe military/spy/suspense. I’ve read very little that takes place there pre-1950.
But Kathleen Denly didn’t just write about a lesser-known part of California. She dug deep and pulled out all the stops in her research. From the cobbled-together schoolhouse, to the actual bruhaha that followed a teacher treating people as humans instead of lesser-than ethnicities, this book is chock full of wonderful stories of doing right in the worst of times and how to learn to discern the right way to do that right. Her lessons on waves will stick with me forever.
Recommended for readers who love depth in their fiction and who appreciate authors who aren’t afraid to tackle the hard things. Also recommended for those who love a delightful romance. Harmony on the Horizon definitely delivers on that score, too. Not recommended for readers who might be triggered by the true horrors of the Barbary Coast in San Francisco. (Again, not graphically described, but the implication is clear). Definitely not recommended for those who prefer to believe the past was rosy and perfect. Why destroy delusions, right?
Her calling to change the world may be his downfall.
On the heels of the Great Rebellion, Margaret Foster, an abolitionist northerner, takes a teaching position in 1865 San Diego—a town dominated by Southern sympathizers. At thirty-seven years of age, Margaret has accepted spinsterhood and embraced her role as teacher. So, when Everett Thompson, the handsomest member of the School Board, reveals his interest in her, it’s a dream come true. Until her passionate ideals drive a wedge between them.
After two decades of hard work, Everett Thompson is on the verge of having everything he’s dreamed of. Even the beautiful new teacher has agreed to his courtship. Then two investments go south and a blackmailer threatens everything Everett has and dreams of.
As Everett scrambles to shore up the crumbling pieces of his life, Margaret unwittingly sets off a scandal that divides the small community and threatens her position as teacher. With the blackmailer still whispering threats, Everett must decide if he’s willing to risk everything for the woman still keeping him at arm’s length.
You can find out more about Kathleen and her series Chapparal Hearts on her WEBSITE.