Jill Marie Landis
Historical Inspiration Romance
Irish Angel Series/Book 3
Zondervan/February 14, 2012
Kate Keene's childhood memories compel her to take her newly-acquired architectural skills to a dilapidated Louisiana mansion. But when she returns to the Reconstruction-era South, she's shocked to discover the man she's dreamed of for so long has become a bitter, angry recluse.
Colin Delany, the handsome older brother of her best friend, has lost all he once held dear, with no hope of ever restoring the Belle Fleuve mansion and plantation. Filled with spunk and determination, Kate feels it's her duty to help, so when Colin demands she roll up her drawings and get out, she refuses.
And when Colin forces Kate to promise his dying sister they will care for his niece and nephew, she complies. Having been orphaned herself, Kate realizes she must put the children's welfare above her own, even if it means a marriage of convenience.
But will Colin's hovering darkness ever lift? And can Kate's persistent love and faith transform their uncertain future?
Even thought this is the third book in the series, it stands well on its own. The inspirational touches are fairly light. God and faith are mentioned but the writing doesn't preach, merely informs and makes faith or the loss of it, a trait of each character.
The Civil War, or the War of Northern Aggression as southerners refer to it, has been over for a decade but the aftermath is still highly visible in many parts of the the south. One place it is still visible is the plantation Belle Fleuve. It's here Kate Keene is drawn back to and here where her heart lies. Kate is determined to bring Belle Fleuve back to it's original glory. Her main obstacle is the current owner, Colin Delany who also happens to be the man she's in love with and has been for many years. Kate is a smart woman and isn't afraid to show her intelligence, even in the world of architecture. I liked Kate but I did find the easy acceptance of her as an architect hard to believe. It's not only 1876 but the south where women are firmly in the traditional roles of wife and mother. Kate's abilities as an architect are viewed with surprise but she doesn't have any real obstacles when applying for a position.
The war has taken it's toll not only on the land of the south but the people. Colin Delaney is one of those young men that left to fight what was thought to be a short war and ended up taking years. Then thinking he had nothing left to go home to, he signed on with the Union Army to fight out west. He's back now, injured and depressed. Colin is a sad, bitter hero who really needs a kick in the pants to get him past his depression and into the land of the living. I felt sympathy for Colin but he did seem to wallow in his misery a little too long. His turn-around in attitude came quickly but he still had a few idiotic moments. I wish he had cherished his life, family and home more from the beginning.
This is not a lighthearted read but a look at the long-term affects war has on the ones who fight and the ones who are left behind. Landis does well in conveying very strong emotions in her characters. I enjoyed seeing how Kate and Colin overcome their fears, grief and longing for something that no longer exists. They must find a way to create a new life in the world after the war and they do this through perseverance and their love for each other and their family.
Irish Angel Series ~
Heart of Stone
Heart of Lies
Heart of Glass