All alone on the Kansas prairie, Summer Steadman has few options. With her husband and children lost to illness, she has no desire to continue on farther west to where she and her husband planned to build their future. Instead, she seeks employment in a small Mennonite community in order to be near the graves of her family. Widower Peter Ollenburger, the local gristmill owner, needs someone to teach his young son. When he hears of a “learned woman” in town, he believes she is the answer to his prayers. He soon discovers, however, that helping this outsider may have troublesome consequences. There is little this father will not do for his son, but as the boy begins to look at Summer as more than a teacher, Peter must make a choice. Does he marry this woman to give his son a new mother, or does he marry only for love? Will Summer’s broken heart ever be able to love again?
The first in Sawyer’s Heart of the Prairie series truly captures the imagination from the first page. Her characters are well-written and well-developed. Summer’s grief over the loss of her children is as real as her journey towards knowing God. Peter’s genuine faith and open compassion woo and romance her, even before she realises that her heart is opening once again. His son, Thomas, is caring and loving and just what Summer’s burdened heart needs to heal. I loved every page of this story. The way the two characters help each other on their own respective journeys is truly inspiring. I fell in love with Kim Vogel Sawyer’s style after reading this book and her depiction of the Mennonite immigrants is real and engaging. I would definitely recommend this book to anyone who asks me about it.