A Life Once Dreamed by Rachel Fordham – Book Review

Posted August 10, 2020 by Phyllis Helton in Book Reviews /

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A Life Once Dreamed by Rachel Fordham – Book Review

Life Once Dreamed

by Rachel Fordham

four-half-stars
Published by Fleming H. Revell Company
Publication Date August 4, 2020
Genres: Historical Fiction, Christian Fiction, Clean Romance
Setting: Dakota Territory Gilded Age – US – 1875 – 1900
Main Character Ages: 18-24
Written for: Adults
Pages: 336

Synopsis:

Six years ago, a shocking secret sent Agnes Pratt running in search of a new start. She found it in Penance, a rugged town of miners and lumberjacks in the Dakota Territory, where she became Miss Aggie, respected schoolteacher and confirmed old maid. But the past has a way of catching up with people.

When childhood friend and former sweetheart James Harris accepts a position as the town doctor, Aggie's pleasantly predictable days suddenly become anything but. James wants to know why Agnes left behind the life they had dreamed of creating for themselves--but he is the one person who can never know.

In the shadows of the Black Hills, can a healing light be shed on the past? Or will the secret Agnes can't seem to outrun destroy her chance at happiness?

I would like to thank Netgalley, Revell for giving me a copy of this book. This gift did not influence my opinion or review.


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By the time I was finished reading, I had a tear or two in my eyes from the sweetness of this lovely story told through letters, journal entries, and beautiful narrative.

As much as I love boy-next-door stories, I especially love historical boy-next-door-stories! Not only is A Life Once Dreamed exactly that, and it has the added bonus that Agnes and James were best friends who knew they loved each other and planned to marry. Until a secret sent Agnes running – with James’ best interests at heart.

James was everything the boys on my street growing up were not. 🙂 He was considerate, compassionate, loved spending time with Aggie, wasn’t afraid to cry. I can just picture him pushing her on the swing when they were very young, carrying her books home from school, tugging her pigtails to make her mad, rescuing kittens with her, and kissing her over the picket fence separating their yards. Sigh.

Throw into this wonderful combination of plot elements a love triangle and the recipe for a perfect story is complete. Enter Sam, the gentle logger with a broken heart. He was skilled with hammer and saw and was able to make the much-needed repairs around the schoolhouse. And just happened to be in the right place at the right time to rescue Aggie – more than once!

When Aggie’s heart led her to doing something that costs her job and then tragedy struck the town, she stuck to her convictions and did not allow prejudice to overpower love. No matter the cost.

The small town of Penance is home to a cast of delightful characters. I even liked prickly Minnie! She wasn’t afraid of speaking her mind although she might have done well to hold her tongue until she had more information. She did speak out of good motives, though, and cared for Aggie deeply. My favorite secondary character was little Tommy. His precocious questions were adorable and it was so sweet how he latched on to Dr. Harris and went to him with the questions no one else would answer.

A certain, yet subtle, faith element runs through the story as Aggie, James, and Sam turn to the Lord for solace and help. Their faith is lived more than spoken and yet it remains strong.

If you enjoy historical fiction that warms your heart, you’ll want to read A Life Once Dreamed.

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four-half-stars

About Rachel Fordham

Rachel Fordham started writing when her children began begging her for stories at night. She’d pull a book from the shelf, but they’d insist she make one up. Finally she put her love of good stories with her love of writing and she hasn’t stopped since. She lives with her husband and children on an island in the state of Washington.

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