Author: Allison Pittman
Genre: Historical Romance
Series: Doors to the Past #9
Release Date: July 30, 2022
Family Secrets Spill One Conversation at a Time
De Smet, South Dakota—1890
Young women growing up in DeSmet live by two rules: don’t go out in a snowstorm and don’t give your heart to Cap Garland. Young Mariah Patterson only managed to obey one. Orphaned and having devoted her youth to scrapping out a life with her brother Charles, Mariah finds herself with no interesting suitors or means of support. Throwing caution to the wind, she seizes an opportunity to lay her feelings at Cap’s feet, even though she knows Cap sees the world through the torch he carries for Laura Ingalls. Mariah is certain her love for Cap will be strong enough to break both bonds, and she’s willing to risk everything to prove it.
De Smet, South Dakota—1974
Trixie Gowan is the fourth generation of living Gowan women residing in the sprawling farmhouse on the outskirts of De Smet. Well, former resident. She’s recently moved to Minneapolis, where she writes ads for a neighborhood paper edited by Ron Tumble. She might live and work in the city, but her co-workers still call her Prairie Girl. Thus the inspiration for her comic strip—“Lost Laura”—in which a bespectacled girl in a calico dress tries to make her way in the city. The name is a quiet rebellion having grown up in a household where she’d been forbidden to mention the name, Laura Ingalls. But when her great-grandmother Mariah’s declining health brings Trixie home for a visit, two things might just keep her there: the bedside manner of Dr. Campbell Carter and the family secret that seems to be spilling from GG’s lips one conversation at a time.
Reviewer: Paula Shreckhise
Ms. Pittman cleverly chose characters from a Laura Ingalls Wilder book to base this story on. She gave a different perspective on the story and life in S. Dakota in 1891. What I was uncomfortable with was the depiction of loose morals by more than one character and I thought the bedroom scene could have stopped a little shorter. That said, those circumstances were the basis for the rest of the story.
I enjoyed the modern timeline with the use of humor between the generations of women. Trixie, with her cat, House, who came with her apartment, was a breath of fresh air. The comic strip that she wrote was cute and reminiscent of Laura Ingalls. Modern day hero Ron: “was unmissable, a burly, giant of a man who looked like he would be a safe bet in an ax-throwing competition and a nightmare in a bar fight but was actually a kind and gentle spirit stretched over six feet and encased in 250 pounds.” He was perfect for Trixie.
The author has a way with descriptive prose: “I opened my eyes to a violet sky, the color that comes when there is not a trace of sunlight left but darkness has not yet settled its blanket.”
This was not my favorite book by this author but I am enjoying this series of Doors to the Past.
I received a complimentary copy of this book from Barbour as part of their Review Crew. I was not required to give a favorable review. All opinions are my own.
Reviewer: Laura J. Davis
I grew up reading The Little House on the Prairie books by Laura Ingalls Wilder, so I was immediately intrigued by the premise of this book.
Creating a dual-time story with one of Laura's characters was a fabulous idea. Allison Pittman has built an intriguing tale about unrequited love. Mariah, one of Laura Ingall's students, loves Oscar Garland (Cap). Unfortunately, Cap loves Laura, and Laura loves Almanzo Wilder. What a pickle!
In the future timeline, we meet Trixie Gowan. Mariah's great-granddaughter. She was a likeable character with a love of all things Little House. Unfortunately, she was forbidden to mention the name of Laura Ingalls in the house where her mother, grandmother and great-grandmother lived. The question always on my mind was why? Why did Mariah hate Laura so much? It couldn't be as simple as unrequited love after everyone was dead, could it? This was the question on Trixie's mind, and she was determined to get to the bottom of it before her great-grandmother died.
Unfortunately, we never really get a satisfying answer. The relationship between Laura and Mariah was non-existent. The relationship between Mariah and Cap was equally non-existent. So right away, the story begins to falter. And I really wanted to like this story. But several things had me on edge. This book dealt with premarital sex and its consequences. The seduction scene (while mild) was not something I expected in a Christian book. While the writing was good and the characters were intriguing, there was also a lack of faith content. The author tried to include God, but it seemed more of an afterthought to the story.
Mariah, the main character, lacked growth of any kind. She was perpetually stuck in the past. She was consumed with an unreasonable (almost twisted) love for Cap even at 104 years of age! I might have believed the love story if the author had spent time developing a relationship between Mariah and Cap. But that never happened. I was expecting more on the last page, but it just ended, and that was that.
The only upstanding character in this book was Merrill Gowan. I felt sorry for Merrill and his treatment by Mariah. His story should have been explored more. His chivalry and love for Mariah (also unrequited) needed more development. Especially when it was suggested that her feelings for him changed. I don't want to give anything away. But his relationship with Mariah should have been explored after Cap was out of the picture. There was so much more room for themes of redemption and the everlasting love God has for us. Instead, this book was about a woman who loved one despicable man so much that she was filled with hate for the woman he loved, even though both were long dead.
While I usually enjoy Allison Pittman's books, this one had me wanting more. If you enjoy dual-time fiction, however, you may like it.
I received a review copy from Barbour Publishing through NetGalley for my honest opinion.
We are listed in The Book Reviewers Directory!