BELONGING Robin Lee Hatcher
Where the Heart Lives , Book 1
ISBN: 978-0-310-25808-7
August 2011
Inspirational Historical Romance

Frenchman's Bluff, Idaho 1897

Hugh, Felicia, and Diana's mother died in 1881 leaving her three children destitute.  Before her death, she extracted their promise that they would take the orphan train west to find loving homes.  Felicia is taken in by the Kristoffersens in Wyoming .  She tried to be a good daughter, but they were not loving parents.  In 1897, Felicia travels to Frenchman's Bluff to become the teacher to the children of the small town.  She is excited about being given a house to live in and hopes to do a good job teaching the children.  She has tried to reach her brother and sister, but hasn't heard from them in all these years.

Colin Murphy is a widower with a small child named Charity.  He runs the mercantile store and worries that the town will soon lose their new teacher to marriage, which happened to the last two single women they hired.  He can be a bit gruff, but loves his daughter and wants nothing but the best for her.  All the children are excited about the arrival of their new teacher.

After the death of her husband, Kathleen Summerville and her two children live on the largesse of her mother-in-law, Helen, because she has no money of her own.  Helen is determined that Kathleen attract Colin and that he become the stepfather to her grandchildren, even though neither shows any interest in the scheme.  With her iron will, she makes Kathleen's life very uncomfortable.  Felicia and Kathleen become good friends.

Although Felicia has had a lonely and unhappy past, she is determined to make a success of her new life.  More than anything, she wants to change the lives of her students and be a good teacher.  Felicia talks to God and has Him guide her.  She has many trials to go through to find her way.

BELONGING is a delightful tale of a young woman who looks for the right path for her life, is kind and loving, and is an excellent role model for her young students.  Her faith guides her in whatever she does, and she looks for the good in everyone.  She has experienced a lot of loneliness in her young life and prays that someday she will be reunited with her sister and brother.  Colin is reluctantly drawn to Felicia.  He is a good man who is struggling with his faith.  Secondary character Kathleen hopes to escape her mother-in-law's home and dictates.  Will these two women find what they are looking for in Frenchman's Bluff?

The idea of the orphan trains has always been a fascinating one.  It catches the imagination of readers regarding how these young lives are changed, hopefully for the better.  BELONGING is a sweet, inspirational romance, heart-felt and a joy to read.  Ms. Hatcher does her usual excellent job of storytelling with some likeable characters and good dialogue.  Also worth mentioning is BELONGING's attractive cover.  This reader will be looking forward to the next book in this series.

Marilyn Heyman