Welcome to my review of Pepper Basham’s latest historical romance, The Heart of the Mountains. It reads as a standalone novel, but it’s a follow up to her My Heart Belongs in the Blue Ridge: Laurel’s Dream, and revisits familiar characters as Laurel’s brother is now the hero of this story.
Can their hearts overcome the darkness of the mountains?
To escape a forced marriage, Cora Taylor travels from England to the Blue Ridge Mountains in search of her brother, who is working as a teacher in a mission school. She hopes to find a place where her nursing skills and independent ideas will be accepted and appreciated, but nothing prepares her for the wild mixture of isolation, community, brokenness, and hope within these mountains…or in the person of Jeb McAdams.
Returning from the devastation of World War 1 emotionally damaged, Jeb McAdams struggles against the rampant mountain alcoholism to soothe his nightmares. It’s easy to hide within the mountains, or it was, before Cora Taylor arrived. Now, she seems to show up at every turn, bringing her modern ideas, curiosity, and beautiful eyes with her.
Bound by their shared war history, the pair develop an unlikely friendship, which unexpectedly hints to something more. But when Cora’s desire to help the women of the mountains crosses an unspoken line, will Jeb be able to protect this feisty flatlander from the wrath of the mountain men or will he end up losing much more than his heart?
The Heart of the Mountains is such a sweet romance! With a signature style, author Pepper Basham paints the Appalachians as an immersive setting for this post-WWI pairing of two souls from opposite cultures who share a kindness and heart for others.
Cora, with her fortitude and open heart, instantly takes to the mountains, though everything from the terrain to the people’s traditions is vastly different from her home of England. And Jeb McAdams, like any good hero, has a quiet strength to him that draws Cora toward friendship and unites them in helping a few needy and wayward souls of his community. Their romance is sweetly and thoughtfully told, as they share personal and intimate moments of connection while a bigger story with action and the most interesting characters plays out.
Pepper Basham’s style shines in The Heart of the Mountains, as a love for the Appalachians and the lore of the region’s history plays its part in the story. I was struck by the very heart-centered emotions Cora and Jeb experience, especially the mingling of hope and grief as joys, faith, and loss are all part of life. With some comical moments amidst the drama and a host of endearing cast (Granny Burcham! Isom! Caroline McAdams!), I greatly enjoyed revisiting the characters in this fictional world for another story of love and resilience.
Thank you to the publisher for the review copy. This is my honest review.