By: Sarah M Eden
Publication: February 5th 2019 by Shadow Mountain
Genre: Historical Fiction
Source: Publisher via NetGalley (Thank you!!)
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Goodreads description--Wyoming Territory, 1876
As the only doctor in the frontier town of Savage Wells, Gideon MacNamara knows his prospects for a bride are limited. The womenfolk in town are either too young, too old, or already spoken for. So, being a practical man, he decides to take advantage of the matchmaking service of the day—mail-order brides—and sends away for a woman with nursing experience.
When Miriam steps off the stagecoach in Savage Wells, she sees a bright future in front of her. But when the town—and Gideon—meets her, ready for a wedding, her excitement quickly turns to horror. Somehow Dr. MacNamara's message had gotten turned around. He didn’t want a nurse, he wanted a wife. When she refuses to marry him, she finds herself stranded in Savage Wells with some very unhappy townspeople.
But Gideon is not like the other men Miriam has met. Embarrassed by the misunderstanding, he offers her a job, and the two begin an awkward—and often humorous—dance of getting to know each other as they work to care for the people of their town. Romance blossoms between the two, but when a former medical associate of Miriam’s arrives in town, Gideon and the other townsfolk must rally around Miriam to protect her from a dangerous fate. Gideon and Miriam must decide if they are willing to risk their hearts for each other even as buried secrets are brought to light.
In some genres I find myself becoming a bit of a snob. I know which authors I like and which ones I've read repeatedly that I didn't enjoy as much. But the historical fiction genre is one that I feel I'm just branching into. I would read it occasionally but more so in the last two years. That being said, I'm just now finding authors that I want to read more of their work within this genre and Sarah M Eden will definitely fall into this category after reading Healing Hearts.
I never enjoyed history as a subject in school, but historical fiction makes the time periods I read about come to life. It's much easier to find events interesting when I'm filtering them through the eyes of a character who is experiencing and affected by these events. In the case of Healing Hearts, women's rights was a big issue. Yet I loved how Sarah M Eden approached this. Miriam didn't rail against what was unfair about being a woman. Yet she didn't take things lying down either. One thing I specifically appreciated was that this story wasn't filtered through today's feminist movement. It wasn't tainted. It wasn't altered. Miriam struggles felt authentic and time period appropriate. Similarly, the difference in medical knowledge for the time period versus now was enough to really make me thankful for living in the now. I found this part particularly interesting and the outbreak of Scarlet Fever as well.
The romantic relationship between Gideon and Miriam was enjoyable and certainly kept my interest, but I would venture to say that it was secondary to other plot points. I was rooting for these two, I liked them as a couple, and yet at times, I felt that Sarah M Eden could have even stepped it up a notch for me. The mystery behind Miriam's past, her time at the asylum, and whether or not she would be rescued from being forced to return was probably the biggest driving factor of the story. All well done in my opinion.
Considering Caden and Paisley apparently have their own book, I wish that this book was labeled as the second in a series so that I would have known that a grouping existed. I will certainly plan to go back and check out Caden and Paisley's story (The Sheriffs of Savage Wells).
-"My mother once told me that confidence is the currency of high society. No matter what you profess to be, what you are perceived to be depends entirely on how well you wear your claim."
Healing Hearts easily gets 4 Stars. I loved the history included that was so relevant to the story in terms of medical knowledge and women's rights. A few other issues that come up in our politics today were present and I found myself enjoying the way they were presented rather than being turned off by them. The romantic relationship between Gideon and Miriam was genuine and slow growing. It did take a back seat to some other plot points, but it was present enough to keep me turning pages. Have you read Healing Hearts? What did you think? Let me know!