Title: Written on My Heart by Morgan Callan Rogers
Florine Series Book Two
Genre: Historical (70s), Women’s Fiction, Suspense
Length: 378 pages
Book Rating: B+
Complimentary Review Copy Provided by Publisher Through Penguin’s First to Read Program
The marriage of Florine Gilham and Bud Warner is a cause for celebration down on The Point, the Maine fishing village where they grew up. Yet even as the newlyweds begin their lives together, Florine is drawn back into the memory of her mother, Carlie, who vanished when Florine was twelve. As unexpected clues regarding her fate begin to surface, Florine and Bud face the challenges of trying to solve an old mystery while building a new marriage and raising a family. Morgan Callan Rogers’s Written on My Heart will delight readers who love feisty, poignant characters and the beautiful, unforgettable Maine coast.
Written on My Heart by Morgan Callan Rogers is the delightful follow up to Red Ruby Heart in a Cold Blue Sea (reviewed HERE). Starring the same cast of characters, this newest release follows Florine Gilham through the first few (somewhat) turbulent years of marriage to Bud Warner. Equally compelling are the shocking revelations when the mystery of her mother Carlie’s longtime disappearance is finally solved.
Florine’s teen years were tumultuous following the disappearance of her mother and the heartbreaking deaths of her beloved grandmother and father but she has mostly made peace with her past. While Bud’s childhood was less painful, his father’s alcoholism left an indelible mark on him. With Bud’s help, Florine has come to terms with her mistakes and just as they are about to be first time parents, they say their wedding vows in front of their friends and family at their home on the coast of Maine. Settling easily into married life, Florine is stunned when Bud announces he would like to take a job in a town about two hours from their friends and family. Although unhappy with his decision, Florine reluctantly agrees to move but their once happy marriage begins to falter as an unexpected pregnancy takes its toll on her health and Bud begins to cope with his problems in unhealthy way.
Florine is still a no nonsense, outspoken young woman who hides her vulnerability behind her tough as nails exterior. She is deeply in love with Bud but she is also determined to make the best life possible for herself and her children. She harbors a few regrets about some of her past decisions and while she would like to take steps to fix her biggest mistake, Florine is overwhelmed with taking care of her small family. Despite their longtime friendship, she comes to realize that Bud has hidden dreams and desires that leave her doubting his commitment to her and their children. Florine is a strong woman and although she loves Bud, she refuses to allow his problems to hurt her or their children.
Bud is deeply in love with Florine but his growing restlessness soon puts them at odds. They arrive at a compromise for his need to move, but neither of them are prepared for the demands of parenthood or the health issues she encounters during her second pregnancy. Their problems begin in earnest once Bud changes his mind about their compromise and Florine meets a long lost family member. Instead of communicating his growing dissatisfaction with Florine, Bud withdraws and turns to unhealthy means of dealing with his frustration. The divide between them grows wider when Florine takes steps to protect herself and their children, but will Bud take her concerns seriously?
The mystery surrounding Carlie’s disappearance simmers in the background for a large portion of the story. With few clues to go on, it was impossible for police to determine whether she was the victim of foul play or if she left of her own accord. When Florine begins receiving mysterious letters in the mail that seem to be somehow related to her mother, the local police begin looking into the case with fresh eyes. When letters from a romance from Carlie’s past surface, a new suspect emerges but there is not enough evidence for an arrest. After another set of letters is uncovered, the case takes a shocking turn and Florine learns the devastating truth about what happened to her mother.
Set in the early 1970s, Written on My Heart is a captivating novel of love and family. The characters are beautifully developed with faults and imperfections that are realistic and relatable. Morgan Callan Rogers brilliantly incorporates issues of the time into the storyline and this provides added depth to the overall plot. A dazzling follow up to Red Ruby Heart in a Cold Blue Sea that can easily be read as a standalone although I highly recommend both novels.