Wednesday, August 26, 2020

“Uniquely Common” and "Silent Harmony" by Caryl McAdoo

t’s not unusual to see a group of authors get together and write a series of related books built around a theme. I’ve seen this particularly in two genres – romance and mystery. In some cases, each of the authors takes a different character and builds a separate but related story.

One example is the Lockets & Lace series, a group of Christian historical romances generally set in the 19th century and featuring a story that involves a locket. The series is currently going strong with 26 entries, each about 200 pages long. Caryl McAdoo has written three of them.

Uniquely Common tells the story of Christina Adams in the early 1850s. She lives with her brother and his two daughters in a New York City brownstone. Big changes are underway for the family – they’re planning to move to the Napa Valley in California to create a vineyard and winery business.

A surprise happens when Christina’s brother Asher brings home a good friend – and his business partner, a man named Ethan Cord. Christina is still reeling from a recent broken engagement, and she slowly realizes that Asher sees Ethan as a potential husband for her. Christina is not interested, thank you very much, but can’t object to the man coming with them as they leave New York.

The group travels by train to New Orleans and then by steamboat to St. Louis and Hannibal. In Hannibal they will purchase their mules, oxen, and “prairie schooners,” and then head to St. Joseph near Kansas City. Ethan and Christina keep finding themselves entangled in different situations. They also start finding themselves becoming romantically involved. It’s a story filled with the history of mid-19th century transportation and especially trains and steamboats. (And yes, there’s a locket involved.)

Silent Harmony is the story of three sisters, Lucy, Servilia, and Melody. It’s 1867, and the three live in the Red River Valley of Texas, trying to keep their cotton farm alive. Their father and Lucy’s husband were both killed in the Civil War, and Lucy has assumed headship of the family. She also has a four-year-old daughter, Harmony, who is both deaf and mute. 

A new teacher has arrived in town, a man named Zeke Sheffield. He stutters, and his stuttering often so bad that he has learned sign language. And it’s sign language that he will be teaching, along with other subjects. For Melody, the youngest sister, it’s love at first sight. But It’s Lucy who needs a husband and father for Harmony. 

Zeke is complicated. He has visions of things that will happen, and they turn out to be true. He stutters, yes, but not with Melody. And Sevilia is about as mean to her younger sister as she can get away with. 

The story is filled with color of post-Civil War Texas and how people have to start making a life for themselves again. 

Top photograph: A steamboat in the 1850s.

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