The Longing is an example of that increasingly rare creature, the non-Western Americana Romance. Good examples of that particular sub-genre are getting hard to find, and I am happy to say this one did not disappoint. The Longing began well, and moved along quite nicely, but it petered out a bit toward the end. However, since it is the middle book of a trilogy, I fully expect the loose ends to be tied up in the next book.
When his father died and older brother Radford left to fight in the Civil War, Kyle Grayson became responsible for the family-owned lumber mill. When Radford returned, he and Kyle’s fiancee, Evelyn, fell in love and married. Kyle has buried himself in the business, and come to terms with Radford and Evelyn, but Kyle does not want to trust anyone too much. He learned the hard way that trust leads to hurt.
Tom Drake owns a lumber mill in the same town. Tom and the Grayson family are friends and have always been straight with each other in business dealings. But there is a problem with the latest deal and when Kyle goes over to talk about it, Tom becomes terribly upset, has a heart attack and dies. But before Tom expires, he asks Kyle to watch after his family and to marry his daughter Amelia.
Kyle knows and likes Amelia, but has no desire to marry her – take care of her yes, but not marriage. Kyle’s hand is forced when he and Amelia are discovered in her room together. She faces the loss of her teaching job, and they have to marry to preserve her reputation.
Neither of them is all that happy about the marriage. Tom’s business dealings are in a terrible tangle and threaten to bankrupt Kyle. Resentment is not a good way to begin a marriage. As for Amelia, she dreads the wedding night because she is not a virgin. Several years ago, she gave herself to the man she thought she loved, and that man is Kyle’s best friend. What will Kyle think when Amelia turns out to be not a virgin?
There is a tangled web of relationships and secrets in The Longing, to the point that Secrets would have been a better title for the book. Lindstrom does an excellent job showing how Tom Drake’s secrets, and the secrets that Amelia and Kyle are hiding, hurt them individually and hurt each other. It’s not until all the secrets are out in the open that the characters can let go of the past and look forward to the future with hope.
Fans of tortured and brooding characters will love this book. Both Kyle and Amelia have pain in their pasts and are very tight-lipped about it. The catharis, when it comes, is quite satisfying.
Although there is resolution for Kyle and Amelia, when the book ends many of the supporting characters’ threads are yet to be sewn up. Rather than being frustrating, this left me wanting to read the next book in the series, about the youngest Grayson brother, Boyd.
Wendy Lindstrom gives me hope that the Americana Romance is in good hands, and I hope all readers who like this period will give her a try. She is an author to watch.