This is a story set in Texas in the late 1800s. Miss Adelaide Proctor took a job as a teacher after her father died, and part of the conditions of the contract were that she wasn’t allowed to marry for 2 years. At the end of this time, the potential suitors who she met when she first came into town have moved on. Adelaide has no family and she dreams of starting a family of her own, so she’s been concentrating her efforts on a young man called Henry, whom she doesn’t love, but likes enough to see as a potential husband. Henry works as a travelling salesman, so Adelaide only sees him about once a month, and when he gets a promotion he tells her he won’t be in the area again. Adelaide believes Henry is too shy to propose, so she decides to give him some encouragement, resigning her job and followings him to a new town where she is met with disappointment.
Adelaide needs a new job quickly, and is lucky enough to be given a chance of being a governess to Gideon Westcott’s 5 year old daughter, Isabella. The poor child lost her mother 5 months ago, and has been mute ever since. She is absolutely crushed by her grief, and Gideon isn’t so much looking for a teacher for Isabella, but somebody who will bring her back to a normal childhood. Adelaide is no stranger to grief and she and Isabella immediately bond. Adelaide also feels a strong pull towards Gideon, but she’s getting her head out of the clouds this time; he’s her employer, the son of an English baron, and she’s not exactly marriage material he’s likely to be looking for. In addition to this Adelaide is under the belief that Gideon’s wife has just died, not realising that he adopted the orphaned Isabella.
Adelaide is a great character, she is fun, hard-working, brave, sensible and sweet. Her father used to call her his sunshine, and it’s an apt nickname, she is a very sunny soul! She has a genuine affection for Isabella and is patient with her, trying to draw her out of her shell and come out from the shadow her experiences have cast on her short life. Adelaide and Gideon’s attraction towards each other is almost instant, but it’s still believable, and you are rooting for them to get together when it becomes apparent that there is a very real danger threatening Isabella, and they have to work together to fight it off. There is quite a bit of action going on in this book, and I was riveted to the page!
This book has a strong Christian theme, but I didn’t feel it was too much; Adelaide in particular has a bit of a spiritual journey in this book, starting off by being almost impatient with God for how her life is, and moving towards the realisation that rather than asking God to give her certain things in life she should instead have been asking for courage to do what needs to be done and patience to wait when needed.