Scent of Lilacs
Scent of Lilacs is a simple, uncomplicated story. The plot is nothing new, but it still manages to be appealing.
Lexie Tate and Jake Westfield are the main players in this version of the “hidden child/push each other away because we’re too afraid to care” story. Lexie and Jake are medical students together in the late 19th century. A night of passion leaves Lexie pregnant, and Jake in the dog house, for, at a crucial moment (if you know what I mean), Jake yells out Lexie’s sister’s name. Allegedly, he was madly in love with Lexie’s sister, but it turns out it was only an infatuation. It was Lexie he secretly cared for and who he turned to on that fateful, passion-filled night when he was bereft after after a hard night at the hospital.
A point in this book’s favor is that I was not bored after reading the first paragraph. I have read so many books that were wall-bangers, even by this point, that I feel this bears mentioning.
Jake and Lexie meet again four years later at a fort in Northern California. Jake is the doctor at the fort, and Lexie has decided to move West for several reasons, one of them being her daughter’s weak lungs. She feels Krista, her daughter, will do better there than in the cold, damp New England air. Jake and Lexie’s paths eventually cross and the old chemistry is still there, but they both resist it. Lexie is gun-shy (or Jake-shy), and Jake feels he cannot commit to anything with Lexie, even though he cares for her, because he is living with a time bomb. All of the men in his family have died of heart disease by age 40.
Call it father’s intuition, but the first time Jake sees Krista, he knows she is his daughter. He is angry with Lexie for keeping something so important from him. He also feels despondent because he now has another reason to want to live a long life, and he doesn’t know if that is in the cards for him. All along, Jake has been researching heart disease to see if he can find something, anything, that will promote further understanding of this dreaded disease that might help him live a longer life. This seems a bit forward-thinking for a historical novel, but I liked how Jane Bonander took seemingly modern issues like heart disease and women doctors and put them into a historical context.
Jake and Lexie have a playful, teasing relationship despite how they separated years earlier. Jake goads Lexie quite a bit in an attempt to drive her back East. He does not want to come to care for her more than he already does. Jake sends her out to attend a difficult birth – turns out, the mother-to-be is a cow. Times being what they are, Lexie is “paid” with a piglet. It is a source of amusement throughout the story that Lexie refuses to turn any of the animals she receives as payment for services rendered into Sunday dinner. She gives them all comical names and keeps them as pets.
Jake and Lexie, unable to deny their feelings any longer, finally decide to make a go of it. Twelve years later, much to Jake’s relief, he is still going strong and busy fathering a passel of children.
A humorous little side romance went along nicely with the main story. Ivy Stillwater, Lexie’s tightly-wound and corseted friend from back East, and Little Pete (as he is called), who by his own admission is unkempt, uneducated and unbathed, find true love. I assume Ivy was able to get him to bathe.
This was not an earth-shattering, breakthrough book or romance, but I liked it. I also recommend trying some of Jane Bonander’s other books. I particularly liked Dancing On Snowflakes. She also has a trilogy out that is worth reading: Wild Heart, Winter Heart, and Warrior Heart. For simple, back-to-basics romance stories, Jane Bonander’s books are a good bet.