Lord’s Love is the second book in the Cottonwood series of historical novels set in Iowa in the late 1800s. In the first book, Healing Love, Magdelina Taylor, daughter of Cottonwood’s local banker and his socialite wife, began to pull away from her mother’s domineering influence when the local doctor, target of Mrs. Taylor’s matchmaking aspirations, married a newcomer to the town instead of her 23-year-old daughter.
In Lord’s Love, Magdelina – who prefers to be called Maggie, and is by everyone other than her mother – moves out of her parents’ house and into an apartment above her workplace, despite her mother’s strenuous objections and manipulative attempts to draw her back home. The thought of her unmarried daughter living alone is simply too much to bear for the town’s premier gossip, and she does everything within her considerable abilities to induce Maggie to give up her job, apartment and independence in favor of a pampered life with her parents.
Maggie, who is just beginning to discover who she is and what talents and abilities she has, is determined to remain single and independent of both her parents and any romantic relationships. When a handsome British stranger appears in town the very day she moves into her apartment, she realizes her plans may be in danger of crumbling.
Lord St. John Lytton – Sinjon to his family and close friends – arrives in America under a cloud of disgrace. Because of his sinful lifestyle and the massive bills he has accumulated, his father sends him to the States as the only alternative to debtors’ prison. Sinjon’s only choice is to take a job in the livery stables of the man who formerly tended to his father’s horses. The thought of working for a former servant chafes the young lord’s pride, but it’s better than prison, so he finds himself in Cottonwood, Iowa, shoveling manure and adjusting to life without title and privilege.
Sinjon knows from the moment he sets eyes on Maggie he wants a relationship with her. The attraction seems to be mutual and growing the more often they see each other, but Maggie’s plans to remain single and independent war with her desire to spend time with him.
I said in my review of Healing Love that I was eager to see what happened next, and I wasn’t disappointed. Lydia and Sterling, the couple at the center of the first book, continue their story in Lord’s Love, but in the background of the drama unfolding between Maggie and Sinjon. Drew, Rachel, Peter and Ellie are also present in their supporting roles as Maggie’s friends and mentors. The women teach Maggie the things she needs to know about keeping a home, since her privileged upbringing didn’t allow her to learn those skills. The men welcome Sinjon into their community and draw him into their circle of friends.
Maggie’s parents, Eustace and Beulah Taylor, also have strong presences. Eustace is the wise and supportive father, much more enlightened about his daughter’s needs than one might expect from a father of that era. Beulah, true to her social climbing nature, seems to be more concerned about her status and reputation than anything else. She fails to see that she is the only person shocked and upset by her daughter’s choices.
The characters stayed true to who they were in the first book, the last few pages of which overlap the story line of Lord’s Love. The pacing is right, not giving away too much too soon. The book ends without any cliffhangers or unresolved questions, but since it is the second in a series, we know there will be more to tell about this small town and its endearing residents. I’m looking forward to the next installment.