by Virginia Campbell | 2/18/2014
" "Land of My Heart", by Tracie Peterson, begins in the Spring of 1864, in New Madrid, Missouri. Dianne Chadwick's family is much affected by the ongoing War Between the States. Her father, Ephraim, a store owner, does business with the entrenched Union Army, much to the outrage of the many loyal Confederate sympathizers in the town. There is much unease and lawlessness due to the continued conflicts and losses from the war. When Ephraim is killed in the crossfire of a shoot-out in front of his store, Dianne urges her mother to join a wagon train heading to the Idaho territory. After much discussion, the family decides to move forward, hoping to connect with their mother's brother, Bram. The oldest son, Trent, stays behind with plans to join the Rebel Army. Just before they begin the journey, their mother, Susannah, discovers that she is pregnant. Becoming a widow, learning of an unexpected pregnancy, and uprooting the family for a long and perilous journey takes a sad toll on Susannah. Through all the hardships and unimaginable loss endured by the Chadwick family on their way to their new life, it is Dianne who becomes the head of the family. She is truly an admirable heroine, a young lady who takes much responsibility upon herself as the family situation becomes increasingly trouble-filled. Susannah slowly loses her grip on reality, a situation worsened by an addiction to laudanum. Her grief over her tragic personal losses combines with her innate prejudices and she is often irrational and prone to rants. Much to her mother's dismay, Dianne becomes good friends with a freed slave and her husband. Later, when the family finally connects with Uncle Bram, he is reluctant to offer them much assistance, not wanting them to join him at his home place. His wife is a Native American, and he knows that his sister has strong prejudices. At the start of the wagon train journey, Dianne had been somewhat at odds with the wagon master's assistant, Cole Selby. Though Cole is a loner, almost taciturn, he somehow manages to rescue Dianne on more than one occasion. An attraction grows between them, but it is a tumultuous time in both their lives. Back home, Dianne's brother Trent begins a series of misadventures which leaves him wondering if he will ever see his family again. Nothing has gone according to plan. Each character faces more than one crisis of faith, and life is harsh, with disaster and death coming on swift horses. This is the first book in Tracie Peterson's "Heirs of Montana" series, and there are three more books which detail the continued life adventures of Dianne Chadwick and her family and friends. If you like historical western romance, and enjoy story lines with strong heroines, then you will greatly enjoy the "Heirs of Montana" saga. "