MY HEART WILL FIND YOU by Jude Deveraux 

April 14, 2023

From the publisher:

Their love refused to stay quiet, echoing across time…

When the world is brought to a standstill in the early days of a global pandemic, Etta Wilmont finds herself suddenly stranded in Kansas City. Desperate to secure a roof over her head, Etta crosses paths with Henry Logan, a lonely older man in need of a caretaker. His invitation for Etta to stay with him seems to be the solution to both their problems—and maybe the spontaneous adventure Etta’s life has been missing.

As Etta and Henry settle into a companionable living arrangement, Etta indulges in Henry’s library. The compelling historical accounts of life in the Midwest soon inspire vivid dreams of Kansas City in the 1870s, dreams in which she’s a mail-order bride, married to a handsome but guarded rancher named Maxwell Lawton.

Haunted by the story unfolding in her mind, Etta realizes her dreams of the past and the familiar faces featured within are starting to have an impact on the present, altering her current reality. Perhaps these dreams are Etta’s chance to finally claim something for herself after so much time spent caring for others. More than anything, Etta wonders if the captivating man she’s falling for while she sleeps might be real, might be out there—true love waiting to be found and which would change both their lives forever.

Time travel is the closest to sci-fi that I get anymore and this was interesting. It begins in March, 2020 when the whole world pretty much shut down due to Covid. Henrietta, AKA Etta, has a layover in Kansas City on her way to visit her sister. Then all flights are canceled, there are no more cars to rent, and no rooms at the airport hotel. Another passenger offers her a ride, and she thinks it will be easier to find a hotel away from the airport, so she accepts. But everything is booked, and when her ride unceremoniously dumps her on the streets of a Kansas City suburb, she starts walking, hoping to find a hotel nearby. Instead, she meets Henry.

Every house on the street is shuttered and quiet, but Henry is outside, ready to have some cookies and lemonade. He invites Etta to join him, and she does. Henry is an older gentleman with some health issues, and his children have hired someone to stay with him and take care of him, but due to the pandemic, she never shows up. He offers Etta the job, and out of options, she takes it.

The house is beautiful, but Henry stays in the pool house behind the main house as he can’t walk up and down the stairs. That leaves Etta alone in the house, so she feels safe. As they get to know one another, Etta learns that Henry is a historian and has a tremendous library, which Etta is enjoying. As they talk about their families and the history of the area, that leads Etta to dream about it – or is it a dream?

Etta finds herself getting married to Max in 1871 Kansas. He’s super good-looking, so she goes along with it until he says something about her being old and plain, and she mouths off to him. He gets angry and starts driving their wagon like a lunatic, causing her to get bruises all over her body. When they finally get to his home, she meets his sister, who has a deformed foot, and Max takes care of her. Turns out he is the second largest landowner in the area and was supposed to marry Cornelia, as her father wants his land. But they fight like cats and dogs, and he can’t abide the thought of marrying her, so a mail-order bride it is for him. He just didn’t expect anyone like Etta.

When Etta wakes up from her dream, she finds her body aching and bruised, and figures she must have been sleepwalking into walls or something. She tells Henry about her dream, he is completely fascinated and decides to write a novel based on it. But then another dream comes, this one much longer and more involved. When she awakens, Henry wants every detail, and Etta realizes that she is changing history with her actions in the dream. She and Max have made up and are now truly man and wife, and she is deeply in love and doesn’t want to leave him. But dreams don’t give us the option of staying in them…or do they?

As Etta moves back and forth between her two worlds, she meets the same people in both places. There are a lot of characters but as the story progresses, the characters become more recognizable in both worlds. I don’t want to give the ending away, so I’ll just say that there is a happy ending and it was a bit of a surprise. I would have liked a bit more at the end as it seemed sort of abrupt. The historical parts were fascinating, and the time during the pandemic felt familiar. All in all this was an enjoyable, engrossing read.

4/2023 Stacy Alesi, AKA the BookBitch

MY HEART WILL FIND YOU by Jude Deveraux. MIRA; Original edition (April 11, 2023). ISBN:‎ 978-0778333487. 352p.






August 8, 2018

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A Collection of Outlander Fiction

As regular readers know, Diana Gabaldon is on the shortlist of my favorite writers. SEVEN STONES TO STAND OR TO FALL is a collection of the novellas that have previously been published as Kindle Singles and such, now collected in this anthology and now out in paperback. I have not read the Lord John Grey stories as I read the first of that mystery series and it wasn’t for me. But I have read the Outlander novellas and they are fabulous!

SEVEN STONES TO STAND OR FALL begins with “The Custom of the Army,” and Lord John Grey being shocked by an electric eel and ends at the Battle of Quebec. Then comes “The Space Between,” where it is revealed that the Comte St. Germain is not dead, Master Raymond appears, and a widowed young wine dealer escorts a would-be novice to a convent in Paris. In “A Plague of Zombies,” Lord John unexpectedly becomes military governor of Jamaica when the original governor is gnawed by what probably wasn’t a giant rat.

A Leaf on the Wind of All Hallows” is the moving story of Roger MacKenzie’s parents during World War II. In “Virgins,” Jamie Fraser, aged nineteen, and Ian Murray, aged twenty, become mercenaries in France, no matter that neither has yet bedded a lass or killed a man. But they’re trying… “A Fugitive Green” is the story of Lord John’s elder brother, Hal, and a seventeen-year-old rare book dealer with a sideline in theft, forgery, and blackmail. And finally, in “Besieged,” Lord John learns that his mother is in Havana—and that the British Navy is on their way to lay siege to the city.

Filling in mesmerizing chapters in the lives of characters that readers have followed over the course of thousands of pages, Gabaldon’s genius is on full display throughout this must-have collection.

Diana Gabaldon is the #1 New York Times bestselling author of the wildly popular Outlander novels—Outlander, Dragonfly in Amber, Voyager, Drums of Autumn, The Fiery Cross, A Breath of Snow and Ashes (for which she won a Quill Award and the Corine International Book Prize), An Echo in the Bone, and Written in My Own Heart’s Blood—as well as the related Lord John Grey books Lord John and the Private Matter, Lord John and the Brotherhood of the Blade, Lord John and the Hand of Devils, and The Scottish Prisoner; two works of nonfiction, The Outlandish Companion, Volumes 1 and 2; the Outlander graphic novel The Exile; and The Official Outlander Coloring Book. She lives in Scottsdale, Arizona, with her husband.

OUTLANDER by Diana Gabaldon

December 20, 2014

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Narrated by Davina Porter

Many years ago, in a bookstore that is now just a footnote in history, a co-worker who became one of my closest friends insisted I read Outlander. It was shelved in Romance, I didn’t read romance and I resisted – but like any good bookseller, and any good friend, she wore me down and I capitulated. That book was almost 700 pages and I tore through it in a weekend, I literally could not put it down. I remember perching it on my kitchen counter while I made (burned?) dinner. But that was a long time ago, the 1990’s, so why am I writing about it now?

Well, like millions of other Outlander fans, I waited with hope and a tiny bit of cynicism for the Starz network series based on that book – and I fell in love with it all over again. And lest you think this is some woman’s thing, I have to tell you my husband has been listening to the audio version of this series and also loves it, and the TV series as well. Starz did an amazing job, from the casting to the location to the costumes to following the story Diana Gabaldon gifted us with while adding to it with stunning scenery and fantastic acting. Alas, this is not a review of the TV series (but watch it, people! You can watch the first episode for free)

My friend who had insisted I read Outlander also suggested the audio books. My first thought was I had read them already, why would I listen to books I had already read? Then my husband started listening and told me how fantastic the reader, Davina Porter, was. Then came the TV series and I decided that listening to the book would be a nice way to pass the time until the series picked up again. And I am ever so glad I did.

There are eight books in the series, and here they are in order:

1. Outlander
2. Dragonfly in Amber
3. Voyager
4. The Drums of Autumn
5. The Fiery Cross
6. A Breath of Snow and Ashes
7. An Echo in the Bone
8. Written in My Own Heart’s Blood

That 700 page first book in the series is also the shortest, so it has been many years and thousands of pages since I read Outlander. Listening to the fabulous Davina Porter brought it all back plus so much more, all those fascinating little details I had forgotten. It took me quite a while to read all 33+ hours; I have only a 10 minute commute to work, but I enjoyed every minute of it.

Outlander is one of those stories that is really hard to pin down. As I said, my bookstore had it in romance, other bookstores shelve it in science fiction/fantasy or just fiction. The basic premise is that our heroine Claire is a World War II nurse in England at the end of the war. She is married to Frank Randall, and they are rekindling their relationship after a long separation due to the war with a trip to Scotland. Claire visits a display of stones, rather like Stonehenge, but when she touches the stones, she finds herself back in 18th century Scotland. There she meets a long distant relative of her husband’s, the villainous Black Jack Randall, and she is forced into marrying a Scot, Jamie Fraser, who keeps her out of Randall’s clutches and probably jail. These are wild times in Scotland, just preceding the Jacobite rebellion, and Gabaldon does her homework. Claire and Jamie have incredible chemistry and their adventures keep the pages flying by.

Outlander was Gabaldon’s first novel. She was a college professor, a scientist and a researcher so when she decided to write fiction, she thought it would be easier to research it then to just make it up, and her attention to detail is astounding and completely fascinating. Gabaldon put serious thought into the time period – she saw an episode of Dr. Who where the good doctor ends up in Scotland and she decided that men in kilts were the way to go. As for Claire, she needed a protagonist who could easily adapt to the hardships of that earlier time period, so she created this nurse who had been through severe deprivation during the war, not to mention was battlefield ready, and her characters were born.

Outlander is a real love letter to Scotland – both the book and the TV series. I am now listening to Dragonfly in Amber, the second book in the series, which is even longer. I’ve taken to listening while I cook, which is much safer than trying to read!

12/14 Stacy Alesi, AKA the BookBitch

OUTLANDER by Diana Gabaldon. Recorded Books. Release Date: July 13, 2006. ASIN: B000GW8NVA. Listening Length: 33 hours and 8 minutes

Trade Paperback: Bantam; Mti edition (July 1, 2014). ISBN: 978-0553393705. 672p.

Note: I really don’t recommend the mass market paperbacks of these books, they are so unwieldy and I find them difficult to read, the books are just too big. And don’t forget you can get them at your local library!