Ella Barron, a single Texas mother, built a careful life running a boarding house in the Depression-era cotton South. But when a mysterious stranger takes a free room, he also takes Ella’s careful life apart. In the tradition of Gone With the Wind comes historical romance in the Dust Bowl.
Ella runs her Texas boarding house with the efficiency of a ship’s captain and the grace of a gentlewoman. She cooks, cleans, launders, and cares for her ten-year-old son, Solly, a sweet but challenging child whose busy behavior and failure to speak elicits undesired advice from others in town. Ella’s plate is full from sunup to sundown. When a room in her boarding house opens up, the respected town doctor brings Ella a new boarder―the handsome and gallant Mr. David Rainwater—but Ella is immediately resistant to opening up her home to this mysterious stranger.
Even with assurances that Mr. Rainwater is a man of impeccable character, a former cotton broker and a victim of the Great Depression, Ella stiffens at the thought of taking him in. Dr. Kincaid tells Ella in confidence that Mr. Rainwater won’t require the room for long: he is dying. Begrudgingly, Ella accepts Mr. Rainwater’s application to board, but she knows that something is happening; she is being swept along by an unusual series of events. Soon, this strong-minded, independent woman will realize that the living that she has eked out for herself in the small bubble of her town is about to change, whether she likes it or not…
Racial tensions, the financial strain of livelihoods in cotton drying up into dust, and the threat of political instability swirl together into a tornado on the horizon. One thing is certain: the winds of change are blowing all over Texas—and through the cracks in the life that Ella Barron has painstakingly built. This is the story of a woman who takes her life’s circumstances in both hands, but who will be forced to reckon with the chaos of her historical circumstances..
I’m a huge Sandra Brown fan, and some of the most memorable romantic suspense books I’ve read are penned by her. Though this book was a departure from her usual storyline, I enjoyed it just the same. It’s refreshing to read a story that’s not just pure romance once in a while, and as a US history lover, this historical fiction read was just what I needed. Whether it’s the nostalgic setting or the lovely romance that takes place, this is a story that will touch hearts, and is probably one of the most moving books I’ve ever read.
“Is the ending sad?
Very.�? In a low voice he said, “Even knowing the ending was said, I wouldn’t have deprived myself the beauty of the story.�?
Set in the era of the Great Depression in a small town where corruption was prevalent, job opportunities scarce, and racial tensions high, young widow Ella Barron runs a well-known boarding house to support herself and her challenging son. She’s strong, level-headed, and independent, and her past experiences have only fortified her heart. On a day just like any other, she accepts a new boarder at her house, a Mr. David Rainwater, and he starts to shake up her life from the start. From working with her son Solly to helping out with chores around the house, David picks apart Ella’s walls one by one, but there is a catch, something that’s revealed from the very beginning: David is dying from an incurable illness.
“…I don’t want to cause you one moment of heartache. Ever.�?
Peering deeply into his eyes, she said hoarsely, “You will.�?
I’m always wary of books that have a dying/dead character to have overly preachy writing, but thankfully, none of that was in this book. In fact, the rich historical backdrop of the story took my mind off David’s inevitable death. The writing was very authentic and rang true to reflect the speech of the people in that time. And even though I knew the ending of the book would be sad and was prepared for it, the way events played out still shocked the tears out of my eyes.
“I’d like the time I have left to count for something.�?
The only issue I had was that the ending felt rushed, but that’s an aspect I’ve come to expect in all of this author’s books so it wasn’t a huge bother. Despite this aspect, the bulk of the story was a captivating and gripping one, and if I hadn’t been traveling, I would’ve finished it in one sitting. All in all, a must-read for all historical fiction and historical romance lovers. It’s a book that’ll run you through with emotions but ultimately leave you with a smile on your face.
Rating: 4-4.5 stars!!