Where Trust Lies
About This Book
After a year of teaching in the Canadian West, Beth Thatcher returns home to her family. She barely has time to settle in before her mother announces plans for a family holiday—a luxurious steamship tour along the eastern coast of Canada and the United States. Hoping to reconnect with her mother and sisters, Beth agrees to join them, but she quickly realizes that things have changed since she went away, and renewing their close bond is going to be more challenging than she expected.
There’s one special thing to look forward to—letters and telephone calls from Jarrick, the Mountie who has stolen her heart. The distance between them is almost too much to bear. But can she give her heart to Jarrick when it will mean saying goodbye to her family once again—and possibly forever? And will she still want to live in the western wilds after the steamship tour opens up a world of people and places she never imagined?
Then comes a great test of Beth’s faith. Someone in her family has trusted the wrong person, and suddenly everything Beth knows and loves is toppled. Torn between her family and her dreams, will Beth finally discover where her heart truly belong?
This story is not a “Return to the Canadian West” at all, but rather a travelogue of Beth’s summer vacation with her family while waiting to learn if her teaching contract in the small western mining town of Coal Valley will be renewed. As such, parts of the story dragged a bit as the characters simply shopped and saw the sights. Then, when the big conflict came, it almost felt too late in the story, and as a result the ending was a bit rushed.
The prose was somewhat old-fashioned, with a less in-depth point-of-view than I personally prefer, but there was a graceful rhythm to it that, while it may have taken me a few pages to get used to, was pleasing overall. The characters all spoke a little too formally for my taste, but it fit the story and didn’t feel grossly out of place.
Beth was the only point-of-view character, and while not written in first person, it was just as constricting to me as it forces much of the action “off-screen,” relegating it to people and places the one point-of-view character cannot go. I felt the character descriptions were a little vague, and several of the secondary characters seemed to take over and dominate a bit too much of the action. Beth may have been the heroine, but this story definitely belonged to her sister Julie, and as such I was often conflicted about which character I felt most connected to.
In terms of conflict and tension, this is a sweet, genteel story in which not a lot happens. Most of the tension is internal, as Beth struggles to reconnect with her family and the younger daughters butt heads with their stern mothers. The question of whether Beth will return to Coal Valley does constantly hand over her head, providing some angst, but the bulk of this story’s conflict centers around someone else and we, like Beth, are forced to be bystanders only.
The story world also felt a little vague. It was summer in the 1920s, but no specific year or dates were given, which was a bit disconcerting for an OCD history buff like me! It will also be confusing for fans of the television show, as that is set in 1910—the year the original When Calls the Heart book is set. As a travelogue story, a map would’ve been helpful as the characters pop in and out of so many ports. But the fact that this story didn’t take place in Coal Valley left me longing to return to that western town right along with Beth, actually building my anticipation for future stories in this series.
Beth and Jarrick’s romance didn’t really begin until the very final scene of the previous book, Where Courage Calls, and this story picks up immediately after that scene. Thus the romantic tension is of the “when will we see each other again?” variety, and is very sweetly played out through their letters, telegrams and telephone calls. Jarrick’s intentions are absolutely clear and sometimes felt a bit too forward, but I like that Beth acknowledged she needed more time to get to his level of intensity and commitment. Given that, the ending of this book felt a little rushed and premature for their relationship, but it was still romantic.
The book features very strong faith elements as characters pray, worship, read and memorize Scripture, and otherwise act out their faith in everyday life. There is also a missional theme as Julie and Beth try to reach out to friends who don’t know the Lord. Themes of forgiveness, justice and—as the title suggests—trust are woven throughout the story, especially as Beth grapples with decisions about her future. Jarrick seeks out an elderly married couple at his church to mentor him as he pursues Beth with marital intentions, a wonderfully Biblical example of the old mentoring the young.
There is some slightly questionable content in this story. On board ship, Julie gives Beth some mysterious pills which she acquired from her new friends to help with Beth’s seasickness, and while they’re never fully explained, it is implied they may be illicit drugs. Some storylines revolve around petty theft, rebelliousness, and abduction, but nothing overtly graphic or violent. A letter from Jarrick describes how a mutual acquaintance back in Coal Valley attempted suicide, but again, nothing is graphically portrayed.
This story will appeal to female readers of all ages who enjoy sweet, clean romance, along the lines of classics such as L.M. Montgomery’s novels and short stories. It may perhaps be too preachy for non-Christian readers to simply pluck off the shelf, but the When Calls the Heart television show is an excellent way to introduce them to these characters and, ultimately, the much greater spiritual depth these books provide. Readers will definitely want to read the first book, Where Courage Calls, to fully appreciate this story, and I am already eager to see how Beth and Jarrick’s story will continue.
Where Trust Lies is a tender, escapist read that lures you back to a gentler time, when family ties were strong, gentlemen were chivalrous, and the world was an adventure to be explored and savored. Co-authored with her daughter, this book continues the story of young Beth Thatcher, caught in limbo as her future as a teacher hangs in the balance. With a gentility reminiscent of L.M. Montgomery, the characters quietly steal into your heart until you, too, can’t wait to “Return to the Canadian West” right along with them.
Available February 3, 2015 from Bethany House Publishers