Esther Cherrett comes from a proud line of midwives and was trained by her mother to take over the family calling. When a terrible scandal threatens all she holds dear, Esther flees, taking a position as a teacher in the wild western mountains of Virginia. But instead of the refuge she was seeking, Esther finds herself in the midst of a deadly family feud-and courted by two men on opposite sides of the conflict. All she wants is to run away again.
Yet could it be that her past holds the key to reconciliation-and love?
In this gripping story of trust, deception, and bittersweet loss, you’ll discover the true meaning of choices of the heart.
Esther Cherrett has a problem. She can’t find a man to suit her tastes in her hometown. She’s learned the art of flirtation, and has broken hearts. Now she has a reputation around town, with the potential to ruin the good name of her parents. Instead of sticking it out, she runs away in the dead of night without any idea of what she’s getting herself into.
The family feud was the selling point for me when I first read the description of Choices of the Heart. I had in my mind the Hatfield-McCoy feud, even though that took place a little further west in the Appalachians after the Civil War. There are, however, similar elements. A member of one family kills a member of another family which retaliates. Two sisters marry the patriarch of each family (how did that happen?) and it is left to their sons, Zach and Griff, to attempt to forge a peace. Everything appears to be well until Esther and her flirtations is hired to teach their younger siblings.
With the exception of Griff’s mother and one of his sisters, the women in this novel are not very pleasant. Griff’s sister, Bethann, is unmarried and pregnant – a scandal in the 1840s – and Zach’s sister, Hannah, doesn’t like Esther and makes it well known. I have to say, I did not care for Esther at all. I read Lady in the Mist and kept wondering how the two likeable main characters from that book could produce such a daughter. The two of them, however, spoiled their only daughter and now, because of the scandal, she believes she’s not worthy of any man’s love. How could anyone love her? She’s also melodramatic about it, which was a bit too much for me. “My heart isn’t a prize to be won,” she tells Griff. “It’s a cold, unfeeling lump of beating muscle inside my rib cage, and I intend to keep it that way.”
But then there’s Griff, a man of immense patience. He was my favorite character. He falls for Esther early on in the novel but is determined not to act on his feelings in order to keep the peace. He also often has to be the de facto head of the family due to injuries his father received early on in the feud.
What else did I like, besides Griff? I loved whenever Griff and the younger children tried correcting their speech so they sound more like Esther. They’ve said, “Ain’t,” for so long and are now learning they should be saying, “Isn’t.” I also appreciated the setting. Last year, I had the opportunity to travel through rural southwestern Virginia and West Virginia and learn of the mining encampments that grew up by the New River. I was able, therefore, to picture the Appalachian location as I read the book. At the end, you learn how the feud between the two families began and it’s sad. As for Esther, she learns that as much as she tries, no one can ever outrun our Lord and Savior.
Publication Date: 01 January 2013
Page Count: 384
Thank you to Revell for my free copy of Choices of the Heart, which I received in exchange for an honest review.