I recently finished reading Trusting Grace, Book three of the Virtues and Vices series by Maggie Brendan. It is a story of one man's journey to let go of the past and learn to trust again. It is also a story of a young widow who has all but giving up her dream of becoming a wife once more with the children she longs for. But more than this, it is also the story of second chances at life, love and happiness.
Grace Bidwell's lot in life shifted dramatically when her husband died and her father became disabled. The farm her husband left behind is her livelihood. She has a potato crop to get in the ground and she can't do it alone. Posting a help wanted notice in the mercantile seems like her best option to hire a suitable farm hand. Taking a chance like this could backfire and net a scoundrel for an employee but Grace had very few options to draw from.
Robert Frasier is stranger in town looking for work. He needs to support the three children his late wife left behind. She never told him about the children, nor her illness. Saddled with this responsibility after losing his wife and then his farm, he and the children roamed the countryside together, living off the land until stopping in the Gallatin Valley in Montana. His luck begins to change when hires on to help Grace with the crop. Robert promised to stay only until the crop was in but what he found on the farm was much more than he bargained for.
The setting for this book is richly described and the reader can almost reach up and touch the forever blue skies of Montana. The characters are well developed with thoughts and concerns befitting of a time when the west was getting settled and communities began growing. From hoeing the fields to unpacking merchandise at the mercantile it feels like you are right there planting the potatoes with Robert or watching Grace bake rhubarb pies with the girls. Maggie Brendan is a very descriptive writer who keeps the reader interested in her books with colorful narrative and lively characters.
I enjoyed reading Trusting Grace for many reasons. It is set at a time when there were so many possibilities. Montana was an exciting place to be after the Civil War. There was an air of being in a modern town with cultural experiences and a dashing hoodlum who causes havoc one can expect from the wild west! Times could be rough when folks relied on the weather for their livelihood but the rewarding ending to this story are encouraging.