Book review: Irish, Americans clash in Sarah Eden's clean historical romance 'Longing for Home'

Published: Saturday, Aug. 10 2013 1:00 p.m. MDT

LONGING FOR HOME,” by Sarah M. Eden, Shadow Mountain, $15.99, 432 pages (f)

Utah author Sarah M. Eden’s “Longing for Home” is a departure from her Regency-era novels set in England and crosses the pond to the Western United States.

While in a different place, it still has many of things fans love about her books — witty, well-round characters and unexpected twists that gives the heart an emotional tug.

“Longing for Home” is the second novel Shadow Mountain has released as “A Proper Romance” — it’s a romantic story where the language is clean and the physical relationship doesn’t go beyond kissing. And this one lives up to that billing.

Katie Macauley has one goal — to earn enough money to return to Ireland and restore the land her family lost during the Great Famine and buy a marker for her younger sister’s grave. Now 26, Katie was only 8 when her family faced some of their hardest times during the famine and has worked for nearly the last two decades to be reunited with her parents. One of her prized possessions is her father’s old violin that he taught her to play.

The promise of a well-paying position as a housekeeper for the widower Joseph Archer brings Katie to Hope Springs in the Wyoming Territory in 1870. She finds a town sharply divided between the Irish and those who aren’t.

Resourceful yet illiterate with a fair dose of stubbornness, Katie didn’t realize the job included tending Joseph’s two young daughters. Joseph, who seemed standoffish at first, didn’t realize he was hiring a young Irish woman until Katie shows up.

And Katie simply being in town starts to fan the hostility, drawing her into a fight she doesn’t want to be in.

Joseph, who isn’t interested in picking sides, realizes that he can’t have Katie working for him because of the feud, and that his feelings for her are growing.

Then there is Tavish O’Connor, who helped give Katie a ride into town. His easy nature slowly but surely gets her to open up and trust him.

As Katie slowly lets down her guard, she begins to make friends — a luxury she hasn’t had before as a servant. She sees that Joseph is really a quiet and kind man, unlike any other employer she’s had, and although Tavish is flirtatious and has an effortless way with people, he is hardworking.

As the feud continues to grow and more Irish look to her for hope, news from her family in Ireland forces Katie to figure out where home might just be for her.

“Longing for Home” is emotionally heavier and twice as long as Eden’s previous Regency-era novels, but it is no less engaging. She has an ability to carefully spin a multi-layered story that unexpectedly unravels one secret at a time — and just about every character has a secret or two. The dialogue is practically begging to be read aloud with an Irish accent.

The ending wraps up this story, but there are plenty of loose ends, including a developing love triangle, that leave open plenty of possibilities for the sequel coming next spring.

The first novel Shadow Mountain published as “A Proper Romance” was “Edenbrooke” by Julianne Donaldson last year, and Donaldson’s “Blackmoore” is scheduled to be released next month with the label.

If you go ...

What: "Longing for Home" book launch and Sarah M. Eden book signing

When: Tuesday, Aug. 20, 7 p.m.

Where: The King's English, 1511 S. 1500 East, Salt Lake City

Web: kingsenglish.com, www.sarahmeden.com

Note: Places in the signing line are reserved for those who purchase a copy of "Longing For Home" from The King's English.

Also ...

When: Saturday, Aug. 31, 10 a.m. to noon

Where: Midway Swiss Days, Town Square, Midway

Web: midwayswissdays.com, www.sarahmeden.com

Also ...

What: Book signing with Sarah Eden, "Longing for Home" and "Glimmer of Hope"; Josi Kilpack, "Baked Alaska" and "Rocky Road"; Camron Wright, "The Rent Collector," Rebecca Jamison, "Emma: A Latter-day Tale" and Mandi Tucker Slack, "Tide Ever Rising"

When: Saturday, Sept. 21, 6 p.m.

Where: University Crossings Plaza, Barnes and Noble, 330 E. 1300 South, Orem

Web: barnesandnoble.com, www.sarahmeden.com

Email: rappleye@deseretnews.com Twitter: CTRappleye

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