Title: The Captive Heart by Michelle Griep
Publisher: Shiloh Run Press
Genre: Historical, Christian, Romance
Length: 320 pages
Book Rating: B+
Complimentary Review Copy Provided by Publisher Through NetGalley
Proper English governess Eleanor Morgan flees to the colonies to escape the wrath of a brute of an employer. When the Charles Town family she’s to work for never arrives to collect her from the dock, she is forced to settle for the only reputable choice remaining to her—marriage to a man she’s never met. Trapper and tracker Samuel Heath is a hardened survivor used to getting his own way by brain or by brawn, and he’s determined to find a mother for his young daughter. But finding a wife proves to be impossible. No upstanding woman wants to marry a murderer.
Set against the South Carolina wilderness in 1770, The Captive Heart by Michelle Griep is a captivating romance between trapper and scout Samuel Heath and prim English governess Eleanor Morgan.
After fighting off the advances of her lecherous employer, Eleanor has no choice but to relocate to the Colonies where she is promised a job as a governess in Charles Towne. Upon her arrival, her letter of reference and meager funds have gone missing and her prospective employer is a no show. With no way to reimburse the ship’s captain for her passage from England, Eleanor enters into a marriage of convenience with Samuel who needs someone to care for his daughter, Grace. Finding herself far from town with her taciturn husband, Eleanor must find the inner strength to survive her new circumstances with a stranger.
Eleanor has impeccable manners but plenty of fortitude and while she is completely ill prepared for life in the wild and untamed backwoods, she faces adversity with grace. Completely at ease taking care of young Grace, she has many challenges to overcome as she begins setting the crude cabin she now calls home to rights. Eleanor is surprisingly resilient as she learns to survive the dangers that now surround her and slowly but surely, she begins to fall in love with her new home and most surprisingly, her new husband.
Samuel is gruff and hardened by tragedy but he wants the best for his motherless daughter. He has endured much heartache in his life and he is a rather enigmatic man whose unexpected tenderness and patience catches Eleanor off guard. Samuel does not talk about his past but there are definite hints that something dark is plaguing him. Half Cherokee and half white, he is an honorable man who walks a fine line between both of his worlds and he remains fiercely loyal to his tribe while embracing his newfound faith.
In the midst of forging her new life, Eleanor clings tightly to propriety and her deep-seated faith as she struggles to overcome her fears of her new life. While she has a strong determination to make the best of her unexpected circumstances, Eleanor is haunted by insecurities that make her ashamed of her confusing feelings for Samuel. Shocked to find comfort from her reserved husband, will Eleanor allow her perceived failings and unexpected jealousy to destroy her chance at happiness?
Samuel does little to dispel the rumors that swirl around him and he carries an almost unbearable amount of guilt for the events from his past. He is also caught up in a dangerous situation with people in positions of power and although he tries to distance himself from them, he is sometimes forced to work with them. An already tense relationship becomes even more acrimonious after his marriage to Eleanor but Samuel does his best to keep her out of harm’s way. He is taken off guard by the realization that his new bride is slipping into his heart, but he is afraid his secrets will frighten her away. Will Samuel risk his heart and confess the truth about his past?
The Captive Heart is an absolutely breathtaking historical romance that is impeccably researched. Samuel and Eleanor are multi-faceted characters that are richly developed with relatable strengths and weaknesses. Michelle Griep brings the time period vibrantly to life with a compelling storyline that combines fact with fiction. Gently underscored with faith and set against an incredible backdrop, this marvelous novel is sure to be a hit with fans of the genre.