Anji Baard Moen, a recent widow, returns from Norway with her children. She quickly settles back into life in Blessing, teaching Norwegian history in the high school and writing articles for the Blessing Gazette. When tragedy strikes, Anji steps in to run the newspaper and soon finds a kindred spirit in the widower who owns the printing press. As they spend time together, Anji wonders if there’s something more than friendship growing between them.
But Anji has also caught the eye of a recent arrival to Blessing. He has put his carpentry skills to good use on the town’s building projects, including Anji’s house. But Anji is torn between her feelings of loyalty to someone who needs her and the chance to build a new life with this intriguing newcomer.
Where will her choice take her?
First off, I must start with the disclaimer, this is the 3rd book in this particular series and 20th book of the Bjorklund family chronicles and the town of Blessing, ND. As such I do NOT recommend reading it as a stand-alone (as I did). I have read one or two others of this large collection, so I had some basis for the story, but still, there are many characters whose stories are told in previous books and circumstances that it is assumed the reader is familiar with.
Other than that this was a very enjoyable read!
Though the blurb mentions only the storyline of Anji and Thomas (the Anglican priest turned carpenter), there are so many more threads throughout this story that made it deeper and fuller than just a “romance” (I do not think this book would actually fit in that genre). Of course there’s Ingeborg Bjorklund, who is one of the main characters in all these books and the mother hen of Blessing. I loved the side stories of Clara, Manny in a small degree, Thorliff, and the others of the town. Essentially that’s what these books are, the story of a town and all the characters that work together to make it what it is.
The theme that stands out so clearly in these books and the life of the characters is continual trust and reliance on God. Some struggle with it more than others, but that’s the nature of real life. Also I appreciated the truth that was brought out a little nearer the end, that God has given each of us duties and callings to fulfill, and we are to be faithful to these no matter how our emotions may be pulling us in a different direction.
The one element that I personally disagreed with in the book was the mixing and crossing of different religions. The following contains *spoilers*!
Anji is considering a relationship with an Anglican priest though she herself is Lutheran. At one point in the book when he is fixing to leave for a new parish to take up his clerical duties again, the Lutheran pastor sends him off him with the blessing of the church (in the example of Acts 13).
As a stand-alone I would give it 3-3 ½ stars, but in the context of the rest of the series, I would definitely give it 4 ½!
A couple of quotes that really stood out to me:
“I think as we draw closer to Him, He keeps training us up in even more ways, so that we are prepared to do what He has put us on earth to do.”
“We say, ‘Lord, I trust you,’ and then we try to figure out and plan by ourselves. Then we get in trouble and like Peter sinking in the lake cry out, ‘Lord help me.’”
*Disclaimer* I was given this book by Bethany House Publishers in exchange for my honest review.