A solid beginning of the series: "Secrets of My Heart" by Tracie Peterson (Willamette Brides series)
about the book....
Portland, Oregon, 1879
Nancy Pritchard finds herself widowed and with a world of problems when her deceased husband's shady business schemes start to come to light. As she sifts through the shadowed memories of their loveless union, Nancy realizes there is a lot she didn't know about the man she married.
Seth Carpenter, a childhood friend of Nancy's, has recently returned to Portland and is delighted to see her again. As a lawyer, he offers to help her sort through the legal ramifications of her husband's death. But there is more to Seth than meets the eye, and his job will take him into the dark side of Nancy's husband's life--a side she didn't even know existed.
As the two search for the truth behind her husband's death, a mutual attraction creates complications. When Nancy's own life is threatened, can Seth be honest with her about who he really is and why he's come back to Portland? And can Nancy bear another betrayal?
It's truly amazing the things I can learn when I pick up a historical fiction novel simply expecting to be entertained, and instead I walk away with a new appreciation for our human complexity and the way that God's people have left their imprint on society throughout time. Such was the case with "Secrets of My Heart", a novel that introduces us to a number of interesting characters and the secrecy surrounding Nancy's husband and the shady business deals she'd had no idea he was involved in prior to his death. As much as I enjoyed getting to know Nancy and watching her grow over the course of the story, I was very surprised to read about the deep seated racism that parts of Oregon society held to when it came to black people and wanting them evicted from Oregon as a whole, or to Native Americans who they were seeking to embroil in war so they could take their land. Although I've visited Oregon many times over the years, I had no idea these pieces of history existed. Yet what I truly appreciated seeing is how God's people stood for truth and love and forgiveness, and while this may be a fiction book I have no doubt that in reality it is the gospel and God's ideals that truly permeated society and brought change for the good.
Readers will be pleased to know that Peterson continues to excel at creating characters you will quickly grow to care about. and Nancy's journey in particular is an inspiring one to follow. The way that she is drawn back to God and to a place of accepting his love for her was heart-warming indeed, and Peterson provides a clear gospel messages in the pages of this story without being at all preachy. Add in a dash of romance and some moments of intrigue, and there is much to enjoy in this first novel of her new series, "Williamette Brides".
"Secrets of My Heart" will no doubt appeal to Tracie Peterson's fans who are eager for her historical forays into America's past. The novel offers up likable characters and an interesting setting in Oregon's past. I award this novel a solid rating of 3.5 out of 5 stars.