Twenty-year-old Ingeborg Strand is certain she is destined to be an old maid. She’s had several suitors but none she deemed worthy of spending her life with. That is, until she meets a university student from Oslo, and feelings stronger than friendship begin to develop between them. But tragedy strikes, and the future begins to look bleaker than ever.
Grief settles heavily over Ingeborg, and her mother suggests that she leave Norway and start afresh in America, as so many others have done before her. But how will she accomplish that with little money and no one to accompany her?
It isn’t long before she meets Roald Bjorklund, a widower who has been planning to go to America for some time, lured by the promise of free land. He’s a good man, a hard-working man–and he has a young son who desperately needs a mother. He’s clearly interested in Ingeborg, but is he the answer to her prayers? And what about love? This isn’t how she’s always imagined it.
Ingeborg Strand has a heartrending decision to make. . .
When I started reading this book, I was unaware that it was a prequel to a series of much-loved books by Lauraine Snelling. This explains a few things about the book – particularly, why 70% of the back cover blurb refers to events that only happen in the final chapters of the book.
Here is my attempt at a better back cover blurb for this book:
The story is set in Norway. Ingeborg Strand feels stifled under the rule of her parents. Every year, she looks forward to summer when she escapes to her family’s seter (mountain pasture), away from the adults, to work hard making cheeses, shearing sheep and marvelling at God’s creation. Nils is a university student, destined to work in his disapproving father’s business. After surviving a drunken near-death run-in with a horse and carriage, he convinces his father that a summer trekking in the mountains is just what he needs to motivate him to do his best in his studies and get his love of adventure out of his system. It is under unfortunate circumstances that Ingeborg and Nils paths cross, and their time at the seter is one of a beautiful friendship and, eventually, romance. But they are from different worlds. How will their love survive? When summer is over, Ingeborg and Nils return to their homes, wondering whether circumstances will ever bring them back together again. Then tragedy strikes and Ingeborg is presented with the possibility for a new life she could never have imagined for herself. Will she take it up?
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I found this book really fascinating. I’ve decided that I enjoy books set in other countries / cultures. I like to I learn something new from the books I read. The mountains of Norway sound amazing and I could clearly picture Ingeborg and the younger members of her family at the seter going about their daily activities. I also enjoyed the way Lauraine Snelling crafted even the minor characters in the book (although I did lose track of some of the family relationships).
The relationship between Ingeborg and Nils was really sweet. I loved how Nils thought Ingeborg was an angel at first when she came to his rescue. Their romance was a slow-build, but there were some toe-tingling moments. That said, I was really disappointed by the events that unfolded in the last few chapters of the book because I was invested in the characters and it was awful to see them suffer. I also wish that Lauraine had built the character of Roald Bjorklund a little more – the letters between him and Ingeborg could have been so much more. By the end of the book, there were still unresolved questions. Having not read the ‘Red River of the North’ series, I felt a little cheated that there wasn’t a satisfying ending, however I will probably read the whole series now to find out what happens to Ingeborg.
This book had Christian themes of reconnecting with God and trusting him in all circumstances. I enjoyed the scripture references and watching Ingeborg’s faith grow throughout the book, plus the way she led and inspired those around her.
All in all, it was a sweet romance with a slightly disappointing ending – however, I now have a new Christian romance series to discover!
Recommended for historical Christian romance readers.
Thanks to Netgalley and Bethany House publishers for giving me the opportunity to read a free copy of this book in exchange for my honest review.
Rating: 4 out of 5 stars.