TBR Day. Home by Morning / Alexis Harrington. 2011


It's historical month for the TBR Challenge and I want to know why we aren't talking about the novels of Alexis Harrington more often.

Several years ago I read her Harper's Bride, a book set during the Yukon Gold Rush. (The Yukon Gold Rush, people!) And when I finished that book I immediately bought Home by Morning. I can't believe I waited four years to read it.

Home by Morning is set during September and October of 1918 in Oregon, where horses are still more common than automobiles, the telephone only works during the day when the operator is on duty, and the small town of Powell Springs is more rural than not. Doctor Jessica Layton is passing through her home town on her way from New York to a new job in Seattle. Her sister Amy, Jessica's only remaining family, still lives there and Jessica wants to spend a few days with Amy before moving on. The same day that Jessica arrives, the great flu pandemic of 1918 also arrives in Powell Springs. Powell Springs is temporarily without a doctor of its own and Jessica soon finds herself taking care of many of the flu victims.

Meanwhile, Cole Braddock, the man she once loved, is working hard on his ranch while his brother is in France with the Army. Jessica and Cole had a bitter falling out and now Jessica discovers that Cole is on the verge of proposing to Amy. All Jessica wants to do is move on, but the epidemic keeps her in Powell Springs. As Jessica deals with the tragic effects of the flu and the unwanted attention of the town's minister, she also has to deal with those who don't want to trust a female doctor. Being around Cole resurrects old feelings, but she doesn't want to stand in the way of her sister who basks under Cole's attention. Eventually Cole and Jessica come to terms with what separated them, but they still need to find a way to move forward.

Harrington does a wonderful job of giving you a sense of what it must have been like during those awful fall days of 1918. We learn that Riley, Cole's brother, is suffering in the trenches of France while his wife is home, filled with worry. That Wikipedia article about the flu pandemic (link above) mentions that the American press minimized the extent of the flu to keep morale high. As a result, Jessica's ignorance about what she was facing rings very true. The minister who sets his sights on Jessica also heads up the local branch of the American Protective League. Reading that made me think that American citizens during WWI faced serious privacy issues. Threats to privacy are not new, just the methods are.

Clearly, a book set during a lethal epidemic and a gruesome war (well, all wars are gruesome, but the stories of the trenches in France are particularly awful) is not going to be lighthearted. Parts are rather heartbreaking. So be forewarned that this is heavier than many romances.

Finally, while I certainly liked this book, I wish the romance had been resolved a little better. I won't give away spoilers. I do believe in the HEA here, but it comes about abruptly and I felt it needed one more conversation between Cole and Jessica. Still, I highly recommend this book, especially if you want to read a historical that's non-European and non-19th century.

Harrington has written two more books about Powell Springs and there are some Montana-set books that I'm very interested in. The Bridal Vail looks interesting. I guess I'll be over here spending some money.

Comments

  1. This story looks interesting. Sometimes romances that look fluffy but are surprisingly serious and well written can surprise us.
    I've read a book by her and liked it.. I have 4 or 5 more by her in the pile... I'll go through them next year!
    ****

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    1. I'm curious about which ones you have. I'm going to read the next two Powell Springs books and then I'm moving on to the Montana ones. That should keep me busy!

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  2. An author whose work I have not read, but his sounds great. Thanks!

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    1. You're welcome! If you read it I hope you enjoy.

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  3. I have a few in the pile too, hoping this is one of them.

    I see in my records that I gave The Bridal Veil 4 stars.

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    1. Oh I'm excited to see you liked The Bridal Veil. That story looks very interesting to me. Thanks!

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  4. This looks really interesting. I know nothing about this time period in American history, and this sounds like a great way to learn more.

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    1. I have to admit to quite a bit of ignorance of that time period too. I'd heard of the trenches in France and the flu epidemic, but if I ever learned of the American Protective League I've long since forgotten.

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  5. Harrington is an author I really need to try again, and I think this series might be it. Allie's Moon is one that readers seem to LOVE, and when I read it many moons (ha!) ago it registered as merely "OK" (to be fair it has an evil sister character in it and I'm not one for evil sister characters....). Then I read the Irish one (had to look up title - The Irish Bride) and that was another "OK" one. I seem to recall skimming a decent chunk of the last half. So I'm not sure if I'm just not finding the right book for me? Or if something about her voice doesn't click for me? Or what. But I need to try her again because she sets her books is really interesting time periods and includes different elements - and honestly, I'm always on the lookout for those.

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    1. Somehow I totally missed that you left this comment a month ago. I'm sorry! I hope you can find a book of hers you like, because you're right, she sets them in interesting time periods and we want to encourage that :)

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