Tuesday, October 14, 2014
A PLACE CALLED HARMONY REVIEW
First, a few words from Jodi Thomas . . .
Once in a while in my career of forty books, there comes a story I know I have to write. It waits like an impatient child in the back of my mind for its time to shine. A PLACE CALLED HARMONY was one of those stories. As I moved through the Harmony series, getting to know the people of Harmony, Texas, better with each book I knew that someday I’d tell the beginning of their town. From the day I started writing the characters came through clear. I had to find men strong enough to influence the generations of Mathesons, Trumans and McAllens.
Many times during the writing of this story I felt all three men standing behind me telling me their lives. Patrick McAllen, young and full of dreams, thought of it as an adventure and believed love came easy. Clint Truman felt old at thirty and didn’t believe in love. When he heard he had to have a wife to get the job, he went to the prison gate and picked the first woman walking out. And then there was Captain Gillian Matheson who loved his wife but also loved adventure.
When Truman, Matheson and McAllen’s stories began to dance in my mind, I found myself staying up later every night to write more. I love the way the three men interacted and the way all three loves stories grew. I have a feeling that readers will be staying up a little later to read one more chapter.
I felt close to all of them, because my great-grandparents settled this same country over a hundred years ago. My grandmother was even born in a covered wagon. So follow me through A PLACE CALLED HARMONY you’ll love the story.
Enjoy the adventure,
Jodi Thomas is the NY Times and USA Today bestselling author of 40 novels and 12 short story collections.
A four-time RITA winner, Jodi currently serves as the Writer in Residence at West Texas A&M University in Canyon, Texas.
A PLACE CALLED HARMONY by Jodi Thomas
Review by Caroline Clemmons
Yes, I’m another dedicated fan of Jodi Thomas books. I can honestly say I’ve read every book she’s published and enjoyed each one. I admit I’ve wished she’d write more western historical romances even though I love her Harmony series and the two suspense novels she authored.
With A PLACE CALLED HARMONY, Ms Thomas has fed both my addictions by writing a historical western romance about the founding of the town of Harmony. As I expected, this book kept me enchanted from the first word to the end. Those who’ve read the Harmony books will recognize that series’ leading families of Truman, Matheson, and McAllen.
Harmon Ely wants to found a town at the juncture of two Texas Panhandle waterways where he’s built a trading post. With his dog Davy as a companion, Harmon is used to his own company. He’s a man of vision who believes he owns the perfect site for a town. Though his trading post has been burned to the ground, he’s been shot and left for dead, and he’s been robbed several times, Harmon is not going to give up.
He has a scheme to attract married people to settle in his new town—all he needs are strong, determined, and resourceful couples. He’ll offer work building the town and a house. In exchange for two year’s work, Harmon will sign over their house and forty acres of land. With ads in newspapers, he carefully reviews responses because he only wants good people who will contribute to his town. He’s building for the future.
Harmon also enlists and old friend to help, Sheriff Lightstone of Huntsville, Texas. Lightstone knows a man who appears determined to kill himself with liquor and fights since the death of his family. The sheriff pulls Clint Truman from a brawl and offers him an opportunity to stay out ofjail. Lightstone even has an idea for Clint’s wife.
The two men take a wagon to Huntsville prison for women and wait as that day’s releases file out. Of the several women inmates regaining freedom that day, only one is not met and has nowhere to go—and she carries a tiny baby. Karissa has been betrayed by everyone she trusted and is consumed by fear. After assurances by Clint, she agrees to wed him if her conditions are met: he will never ask about her past, he will never strike her, and he will never force himself on her. He gives her a few days to recover while he sells his farm, then they set out by train for Dallas to buy a wagon and supplies for their trip to the Panhandle.
Meanwhile near Galveston, Patrick McAllen is escaping an overbearing and abusive father with the aid of his mute brother, Shelby. Going with Patrick is Annie Spencer, who is almost as eager to escape her stepmother. Patrick and Annie are friends but not in love. Their motive in marrying is to flee beyond their parents’ reach and they seek Harmon Ely’s town as a sanctuary. Annie requests only that Patrick never lie to her. He agrees and asks for the same. He hopes one day Shelby will join them.
Captain Gillian Matheson is a career soldier. Although he loves his wife Daisy to distraction, he cannot settle on her family’s farm and tolerate her brothers ordering him about constantly. He hadn’t realized when they wed that she wouldn’t leave her family to follow him from post to post. What he doesn’t know is that Daisy has grown weary of never seeing her beloved husband for longer than enough time to conceive another child. Writing as her husband, Daisy contracted with Harmon Ely to settle in his new town. Then she convinced her brothers to load all her furnishings into wagons and escort her to Harmon’s trading post and leave. All she has to do now is await Gillian’s arrival. The letter she sent her husband should bring him hurrying to meet her. At least, she prays that’s true.
A PLACE CALLED HARMONY is one of my favorites of Ms Thomas’ books. Each of the three couples plus the secondary characters face different problems that present a slice of 1880’s western life. Settling on the frontier was hard work and dangerous, but joy also awaited those with survival skills. By deftly weaving the good with the bad, Ms Thomas creates a portrait of those who founded not just Harmony, but a myriad of towns across the West.
If you haven’t already guessed, I give A PLACE CALLED HARMONY five out of five stars. You can buy this book from www.jodithomas.com