I was a bit apprehensive jumping into this book, as it's the third in a series that follows the heroine from childhood to adulthood. I thought for sure it wasn't going to work, and I'd have to start from the beginning to enjoy the story. However, I was certainly wrong about that! While I think more enjoyment would be had if you've read all three, it's still a great read even if you start at the end like me. There's so much sorrow in the story but also great hope for the future, and I felt many emotions while reading. It's difficult to comprehend sometimes what it must have been like to have so many men you've grown up with either die in the war or come back with serious wounds, both physical and emotional. Kate Hewitt did an amazing job showing all sides of that experience, and it was a story I won't soon forget.
World War I is over, but the loss it has caused has been devastating. Ellen Copley has returned home to Amherst Island after spending the last seven years abroad, first studying to be an artist and then enlisting as a nurse during the war. She's seen horrible things, lost a man she loved, and has returned to a home that is barely hanging on in the terrible economic aftermath of the war. Desperate to help save her family's farm, she fights to think of a way, and it comes from an unlikely source - a childhood friend, Lucas Lyman. While she gives his idea a try, she finds herself more often in the presence of Lucas' brother, Jed, whom she had once thought she loved. Now married but estranged from his wife and missing an arm due to a war injury, he is bitter and cold. However, in desperate times, it can warm the hardest of hearts. Not only does Jed begin to heal, but he helps Ellen and her family heal as well. Ellen struggles to keep the farm and the family going, and in the midst of it all, she gets the opportunity to make a life for herself elsewhere. But will it be enough of a draw to take her away from those she loves the most?
Ellen was a strong, dedicated woman, a heroine I loved reading about very much. She had gone through so much during the war and still managed to come out of it a better person than she had been before. She put others ahead of herself from the very beginning of the story, although it was hard at times to watch as she did it too often. The fact that her family had adopted her in to it, after her parents' death, made everything harder when she had to help them make decisions. Resentments flared, and at times she began to doubt herself and her path in life. I was so glad when people came along to help her, particularly Lucas and Jed. It was hard at times to see how the romance aspect of this story would turn out, but in the end it didn't disappoint. I was glad to see how things resolved, and Ellen received the happy ending she so greatly deserved.
Now that I know how the story ends, I probably won't be going back to read how it all began, knowing the heartache that would follow. However, I am definitely intrigued by Kate Hewitt and will certainly seek out more books by her in the future.
**I received a free copy via NetGalley and this is my honest review.**