Desperate to escape her abusive brother Cyrus and his plans to marry her to a man no better than he, Lydia Walcott drags her bruised and broken body to her friend Aggie’s house. After setting her broken wrist and tending to the worst of her injuries, Aggie helps her leave town while Cyrus and Gus, the would-be husband, aren’t around to stop her.
Lydia boards a train with no destination in mind but “away.” Her limited money gets her to Cottonwood, Iowa, where an ice storm forces her to take the first shelter she can find – an empty stall in the local livery stable.
Sterling Graham, the town doctor, has been out at a farm delivering a baby and decides to bed down for the night at the livery after returning to town. Neither knows the other is there…
By the next morning, the entire town knows they both were there the whole night. Speculation mushrooms into gossip, and the only way to resolve the matter and salvage the good doctor’s reputation and medical practice is a forced marriage.
Lydia, scared of everything that moves thanks to her brother’s abuse, agrees to the arrangement. Sterling, more concerned about being able to continue his work than anything else, takes Lydia into his home and sets about healing her injuries.
As Sterling gets to know his new wife, the concern of a physician soon gives way to compassion for this wounded woman. As he benefits from her intelligence, wit, graciousness and skill in maintaining his home, compassion turns to affection and then something deeper…
I don’t normally go for historical novels, but I’m not one to refuse a free e-book download, especially from another indie author. We try to support each other whenever possible, and so I grabbed Healing Love when it became available. Having chatted with Sophie online several times, I knew I wanted to include her book in the review schedule.
In this first installment of the Cottonwood series, she has presented a story of forgiveness, love, hope and healing that grabs the reader’s heart and doesn’t let go. I wanted to hole up in a quiet corner somewhere and read until I’d clicked to the last page.
The only things that distracted were a few typographical errors and some instances where the speech patterns and word choices felt too modern for a story set in 1875. Otherwise, the story engaged and held me from the first page to the last.
Healing Love is the second story I’ve read recently where the marriage was arranged instead of being chosen by the bride and groom. In both novels, the idea of love growing from friendship is the central theme and a refreshing difference from the course of most romances. If the rest of the Cottonwood series is as strong as the first episode, Sophie will have presented an endearing, enduring set of novels to the reading world.
About the Author
You can find out more about Sophie, the Cottonwood series and her other writing at Sophie Dawson.