Thursday, April 3, 2008

Her Shadowed Heart by Anne Whitfield


In Yorkshire England in the year 1864, Anna Thornton is the eldest child of wealthy parents. She is wildly independent, empathetic and kind to the servants, and much beloved by all – except for her own mother. Anna does not understand why her mother is so cold and indifferent towards her. Anna believes her mother hates her.

Matt Cowan is a man of means who owns and operates rich mines in South America. The instant they meet, both are inexplicably drawn to each other. Because Anna’s mother does not approve of the dashing Matt Cowan, Anna and Matt begin to meet in secret. Before long, their trysts cause a strong attraction to blossom. Soon, they find themselves deeply in love with each other.

Matt must return to South America to tend to his business and mines. He proposes marriage to Anna, but wishes to wed when he returns from abroad in two years. Anna, however, wishes to wed immediately and travel to South America with him. Matt refuses, citing the land is too wild. They reach an impasse where the only solution is to part ways.

After a heart-wrenching day of lovemaking, Anna and Matt separate. Anna is devastated and falls into the depths of despair. When she discovers she is carrying Matt’s child, her mother banishes her from the family home. Anna finally learns the terrible secret which is the cause of her mother’s bitter aloofness towards her.
With all her possessions, her trusted maidservant, and a broken heart, Anna turns her back on her family and home, determined to start a new life. Before long, she acquires a dilapidated farm in Yorkshire and gathers a bevy of helpers she has either come upon accidentally or rescued from some mishap. A handsome, penniless, Irish laborer seeking work is added to the small makeshift family. The gratitude of those she aided turns into fierce loyalty and together, the small group begins to rebuild the farm and make it profitable.

Life is not easy, however, and Anna must surmount numerous misfortunes that test her resolve. Soon, Anna finds herself attracted to the hard-working Irishman – something she deeply resents because of the pain of her severed romance with Matt Cowan and his lies. She fights her attraction to him. Just as her life begins to turn around, however, secrets from the past come to the forefront and threaten to destroy everything she has built.

From start to finish, Anne Whitfield draws the reader intensely into this well written, hard-luck tale. The primary and secondary characters are colorfully realistic. They draw on the reader’s emotions and their memory will linger long after the book is finished. I have read several of Anne Whitfield’s novels and they are all of exceptional quality and very well written. There is no doubt she is a talented writer and one to continue to watch in the future. This is a wonderful tale about the power of one woman to overcome the hardships of life. I highly recommend it.
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