I admire any author these days who writes an American Historical. They are few and far between. Needless to say I tucked right into Heart’s Delight with much enthusiasm and wasn’t too disappointed. My only regret is that I could have had something very special in my hands if not for the lack of pages.
Thirty-seven year-old Hodge Egan is fixing to retire his federal marshal’s badge and live a much-deserved easy life in the gentleman’s clubs of San Francisco. He’s had a tough life and feels that after honoring his sister’s wish to stay on the right side of the law for so long, he should be able to relax and let down his hair. He is sent on one final mission to hunt down a notorious bank robber and cold-blooded murderer in Wisconsin. So off Hodge goes to do what he does best.
Molly O’Brien is an Irish immigrant who traveled to Wisconsin as a teenager to live with her parents and brother on his new dairy farm. But her family soon died and left the farm – and her two young nieces – in her care. Molly has a big heart and has also taken in two orphans over the years. She’s worked hard at supporting her family and taking care of the farm, but a romantic at heart, wouldn’t consider taking on a husband simply for convenience.
As she and the girls travel home from the town of Delight, they come upon two men laying in her field, badly wounded. Their personal effects are strewn around them and lead Molly to realize that one is an outlaw and one is a federal marshal. Molly can’t determine which is which. As she and the girls nurse the men back to health, they both claim to be the marshal and Molly doesn’t know who to trust until it is too late.
Molly and Hodge are both wonderful characters, as are the little girls – who enhance the story rather than deter it. Word to the wise: The children do play an important role and those who don’t like children in their books may shy away. I like kids so it didn’t bother me. Molly is a warm women and she genuinely loves the little girls as any mother would her own children. Hodge is almost comical in trying to keep his dream of retiring in San Francisco alive, even though he’s falling hard for Molly and her girls.
The Wisconsin setting was different and I enjoyed learning a little about Molly’s cheese making. I got the point that Molly worked very hard, but I still don’t believe she would have been able to handle 100 head of dairy cattle by herself with only the occasional help from a nearby man.
While I enjoyed the book well enough, it wasn’t long enough; more word count would have made it a very special read. And though there was chemistry between the leads, the story lacked the sexual tension that it needed to define the relationship. Almost as soon as Hodge awakens, he is on Molly like a cat on cream, leaving barely any time to acknowledge that they are indeed attracted to each other. There is a rather long epilogue that I think could have been better spent building this tension during the actual narrative.
Heart’s Delight is a good book in which to lose yourself on a rainy day, even though I found the abruptness of it rather disconcerting. I will be looking up some more of Ms. Langan’s backlist to see if that something special missing here is to be found in a different book.