Tuesday, February 7, 2012

Home by Morning by Alexis Harrington

Home by Morning. Alexis Harrington. Montlake Romance. December 2011. 240 pages. ISBN #: 9781612182056.

Jessica Layton, a medical doctor in the early 20th Century when women were frowned on for becoming doctors, is on her way to Seattle, Washington to take up a new position. She's been working in New York City and been overwhelmed by the poverty and needless illness bred from dirty and malnourished conditions. Now she stops off in her hometown of Powell Springs, Omaha and the sparks immediately start flying. First she ticks off the town quack with her useless remedies. Then she has to face her old boyfriend, Cole, now a successful horse breeder and who is supposedly courting Jessica's sister, Amy. Some sharp words pass among all of them but Jessica shrugs them off, knowing this is a temporary visit. Add to that the town is celebrating the town's one son who is about to go off to WWI. Pride in America is strong and anyone not patriotic is deemed a suspicious person worthy of being arrested. All that is about to drastically change!

A young soldier falls seriously ill with what later came to be known as the 1918 epidemic of influenza. This is no ordinary flu however and the contagion becomes so severe that Jessica agrees to stay a few months, ill-prepared though she is. Fighting exhaustion, she forges on with patients who both die and recover, helped by Cole; even though it seems the more they meet, the more they fight, never saying what each really wants to say.

But this illness and the enmity it breeds from Cole and a would-be suitor grows to crisis proportions. Fighting begins to take on more dangerous tones, and a secret will shock everyone around Jessica, bringing the novel to a surprising climax.

Alexis Harrington starts her novel slowly; but once it takes off, one is flipping the pages faster and faster to see what will happen next. It's a well-told romance story but also a historical novel in the sense of the war and the illness, two major events that drive the plot of this adventurous, action-packed yet endearing story!!!

Very nicely done, Ms. Harrington!

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