Desert Isle Keeper
Heart on the Line
Now that summer is at long last here and the sun is shining warmly on my patio – hence my lawn chair – I can finally read outside. I have been looking for novels that match the light hearted, cheery spirit I feel while soaking up some much needed vitamin D and Heart on the Line is exactly that type of book, with gentle humour and a sweet romance at its core.
When a man bursts into her Denver telegraph office, cloaked head to foot in winter gear, Grace Mallory is frightened. When she learns that he is her beloved father, running from danger, she is terrified for him. Mr. Mallory has discovered that the local mine owner is not in fact the legal owner of the mine and he has the paperwork to prove it. Given how the authorities are often in the pockets of the rich, he believes he can trust no one in town with the documents. The two determine to meet with a Pinkerton agent who will take the proof to the courts out East. When her father is shot and killed on the way to that assignation, Grace takes the evidence and flees to Harper’s Station Women’s Colony in Texas. Once there she puts the records in the bank, sets up a telegraph office for the small community and waits to see what happens next.
What happens next is love at first . . . tap?
Amos Blesdoe is an intelligent, slender, well-groomed city slicker. Which would be great if he lived out East but his is a look less than popular with the ladies in the heart of Texas. But that’s okay, he is happy anyway; he has a loving family, a solid faith in God and a job he loves. Being a telegraph operator may not be a very manly position but it is one that provides him with a good living and gives him the opportunity to be of great service to his community. It’s also given him a chance to make some new friends, such as the lovely Miss G from Harper’s Station. The two have taken to ‘talking’ over the wires during the quiet evening hours, sharing anecdotes about friends, family and their communities. These chats have come to mean a lot to Amos so when they are interrupted one night with an urgent message for Ms. G that says “He knows where you are. Coming for you. Sorry.” he determines to race to her assistance.
After a few mishaps along the way, Amos is able to connect with Grace and offer his aid. While the gun-toting, straight-shooting lady doesn’t really need a protector, she is delighted to have a friend and ally. Meeting allows them to take their relationship to a new level and the two are happily on their way to being a couple when a spanner is thrown into the works. A muscle bound, roguishly handsome Pinkerton detective arrives on the scene to help Grace get the forms to the proper people – and who seems very interested in getting to know her a lot better. Will Amos lose his new love to this manly man? And is it really help that has come to their doorstep – or trouble?
Amos and Grace are wonderful, warm characters who imbue their love story with charm, humor, and homespun warmth. Amos’s delight in things mechanical, from telegraphs to bicycles, makes him just the right sort of modern. His acceptance of working women at a time when that wasn’t the norm, and his appreciation for Grace’s independence went a long way to endearing him to me. In fact, one of the few quibbles I had with the book came at the start when Amos arrived in town and tried to prove his masculinity by showing he couldn’t be pushed around by acting authoritative and condescending. Fortunately, this unreasonable phase passes within a few pages and he settles into being a kind, respectful partner. I also really liked that in the crucial action sequences Amos didn’t turn into a hero extraordinaire; he and Grace took equal part in extricating themselves from trouble.
Grace is a terrific heroine, feminine yet strong, sweet but still courageous, daring and brave. I liked the fact that she never makes an issue of her independence but simply accepts it as a part of herself and expects others to do the same. I loved the fact that her relationship with Amos wasn’t just built on physical attraction but on all their mutual interests; their love of God and family, their shared love of telegraphy and their willingness to embrace the new and different. While another small quibble I have with the book is that we don’t get quite enough time with them as a couple, I thoroughly enjoyed what we did get. It helps that the romance-factor in the tale is upped by a sweet secondary love story.
Heart on the Line is a captivating, enjoyable book filled with adventure, wit and whimsy. Fans of the author will be delighted with this offering and the opportunity to catch up with old friends from Harper’s Station. New readers needn’t fear; the story stands completely on its own and will quickly make you a fan of the author. I am happy to recommend it to readers of Westerns, Inspirationals or anyone looking for a light, lively read.