Title: Wildwood Creek by Lisa Wingate
Moses Lake Series Book Four
Publisher: Bethany House Publishing
Genre: Contemporary, Christian, Fiction, Romance, Historical Elements
Length: 384 pages
Book Rating: B+
Complimentary Review Copy Provided by Publisher Through NetGalley
With love and loss tangled together, how was she to know where her life would lead?
Allie Kirkland has always heard the call of her father’s unfinished destiny. When she’s offered a production assistant’s job on a docudrama filming in the hills near Moses Lake, Texas, the dream of following in her director-father’s footsteps suddenly seems within reach. The reenactment of the legendary frontier settlement of Wildwood is a first step into the film industry. A summer on set in the wilderness is a small price to pay for a dream.
But in 1861, the real Wildwood held dangerous realities. Town founder Harland Delavan held helpless residents, including young Irish schoolteacher Bonnie Rose, in an iron grip. Mysterious disappearances led to myths and legends still retold in the region’s folk songs. Eventually, the entire site was found abandoned.
When filming begins, strange connections surface between Allie and the teacher who disappeared over a century ago, and everyone in Wildwood–including Blake Fulton, Allie’s handsome neighbor on the film set–seems to be hiding secrets. Allie doesn’t know whom she can trust. If she can’t find the answers in time, history may repeat itself…with the most unthinkable results.
In Wildwood Creek, the fourth installment in the Moses Lake series, Lisa Wingate brilliantly blends the past and present into one fascinating story. A little different from her usual novels, it is none the less a captivating read with an intriguing mystery about long ago events and a sweet modern day romance.
Frontier life is fraught with danger as Bonnie Rose and her family quickly discover. Limited options force Bonnie Rose to accept a position as a school teacher and along with her sister, they begin the treacherous journey to Wildwood Creek. Bonnie is uneasy around the town’s founder Harland Delevan and when residents begin disappearing, rumors begin to swirl that Bonnie is somehow responsible. In the aftermath of unspeakable horror, the fate of Bonnie, her sister Maggie May, two slaves and Wildwood Creek remain a mystery for well over a century.
Allie Kirkland’s best friend Kim talks her into trying out for a role in an upcoming reality show based on a mysterious Texas town and its missing inhabitants. Meticulous research goes into recreating the 1861 town of Wildwood Creek and the actors completely immerse themselves in their roles, giving up all modern conveniences once filming begins. Allie begins as a production assistant and is soon cast in the role of Bonnie Rose, the young Irish immigrant with a tragic past who traveled to Wildwood Creek with her young sister to teach the town’s children. Allie is fascinated by Bonnie’s story and her efforts to uncover the truth about what happened to Bonnie lead to unexpected consequences.
Like many young adults, Allie is caught between following her dreams and living up to her family’s expectations. Deciding to join the reality show is her first real act of independence and provides her the opportunity to pursue her career goals. Filming the show poses challenges she is not sure she is equipped for but remembrances of her Grandma Rita’s sage wisdom guide her during the coming months. Equally helpful is charming but mysterious Blake Fulton. Blake is reluctant to reveal any personal information about himself but their close proximity leads to an easygoing friendship. With little to distract them, Blake and Allie spend quality time getting to know one another and their quiet moments together lead to deeper emotions.
The historical portion of the plot is richly detailed and rings with authenticity. Scrupulous attention is paid to speech patterns and I could literally hear the dialogue in my mind as I read the passages. The cultural differences between the German and Irish settlers figure heavily into the unfolding drama and adds another layer of interest to the overall storyline.
With a distinct and unique plot, Wildwood Creek vibrantly springs to life through its enthralling cast of incredible characters. Lisa Wingate beautifully incorporates a terrible time in America’s history into a deeply moving and compelling story of faith and love that is truly unforgettable.