This is one of the most satisfying, heartwarming novels of the year. Sweet but never sappy, it easily manages to keep a timeworn “marriage of convenience” plot fresh, believable and intriguing. Each character is so well drawn and memorable. And much like the unforgettable heroine, the writing is unadorned and forthright, but over time is revealed to be as clean and as beautiful as a piece of well-made Shaker furniture.

Abused by her employers in 1870s Michigan, Swedish hired girl Ingrid Larsen impulsively volunteers to marry Joshua Hunter, a Civil War veteran and father of five who’s just been cleared of charges he murdered his unstable wife. His long-neglected children respond to Ingrid’s affection like flowers turning to the sun, but is Joshua too wounded by the war and his unhappy first marriage to love the no-nonsense girl who puts his house — and family — to rights by virtue of her hard work, common sense and uncommonly open heart? (REVELL, Oct., 352 pp., $14.99)

Reviewed by: 
Carolyn Martin