Hi there! Today I’m sharing my review for Mysti Parker’s historical romance A TIME FOR EVERYTHING. I must say, I’ve read a lot of historical romance, but nothing from the Restoration Period–that rebuilding time following the Civil War here in the US. I was truly enchanted by this gentle romance.
About the book:
After losing her husband and only child to the ravages of the Civil War, twenty-five-year-old Portia McAllister is drowning in grief. When she sees an ad for a live-in tutor in another town, she leaves everything behind in hopes of making a fresh start. But as a Confederate widow in a Union household, she is met with resentment from her new charge and her employer, war veteran Beau Stanford.
Despite their differences, she and Beau find common ground and the stirrings of a second chance at love—until his late wife’s cousin, Lydia, arrives with her sights set on him. Burdened with a farm on the brink of bankruptcy, Beau is tempted by Lydia’s hefty dowry, though Portia has captured his heart.
In another time and another place, his choice would be easy. But love seems impossible amid the simmering chaos of Reconstruction that could boil over at any moment into an all-out battle for survival. Will Beau and Portia find their way into each other’s arms, or will they be swept away by raging forces beyond their control?
How about a little taste?
Ezra opened another envelope. “It’s a letter from Claire’s uncle.”
The old man took his glasses from his shirt pocket, put them on his nose, and held the letter at arm’s length. “Looks like he’s heading back from Philadelphia in a couple of weeks. He’s bringing Lydia.”
“She was always a sweet little girl.” Beau recalled some of the letters he’d received from her since Claire’s death. My dearest Beau… not a day passes that does not carry with it the memories I have of you…
“She ain’t so little no more,” he said with a smile. “She’s a young woman now. And you ain’t so old yourself.”
“Not that again.” With his thumb, Beau instinctively touched the golden band on his left ring finger.
“They’ve got money and lots of it.”
Here we go. Gold sparkled in Ezra’s eyes, or was that the thrill of matchmaking? Either way, Beau didn’t like it. He frowned and plopped his hat back on his head.
“Now don’t give me that look, son. It’s been two years. You need to find somebody. Give Jonathan a mama.”
“He had a mama. And we’re fine.” He hated the way his voice broke every time someone forced him to talk about Claire, so he made his retreat into Scout’s stall. The sixteen-year-old stallion was the most level-headed Morgan he’d ever owned. He nuzzled his master as soon as he saw the brush in Beau’s hand.
Ezra followed, thumbs tucked behind his overall straps. “You’re not fine, Beauregard. You need a lady to run things around here. Harry and Isaac are back with the new teacher, right?”
“I reckon so.” He brushed Scout’s neck with soft, gentle strokes.
“Portia, wasn’t it? Portia McAllister?”
“You’d know better than me. I didn’t want to hire her in the first place. It’s bad enough she’s a Rebel’s widow, but Harry says she’s not what we expected. Is she blind or deaf or missing a leg or what?”
“Heck if I know, son. I ain’t met her yet, either. All I’ve seen is her letter.”
“And according to that letter, her husband worked as an overseer.”
“Part-time assistant to an overseer.”
“Don’t matter what he was. She’s a former schoolteacher. And you know Claire wanted this for Jonny until he’s old enough for the university. I ain’t gonna be responsible for her coming back to haunt us for not abiding by her wishes.”
“Yeah, well when Claire was here, we had the money for such things. Now, it’s all we can do to keep food on the table and the few farm hands we got. With the measly pensions me and Harry get, it’s a wonder we can even do that. And now some Rebel woman who may or may not have some sort of deformity will be teaching my son and running my house. What are we supposed to pay her with? Praise?”
“I can’t help it if she’s the only one who replied.”
Beau huffed as he picked prickly burrs from Scout’s mane. “Does she know Jonny’s mute?”
“He’s not mute. He’ll come around with the right encouragement.”
“Still doesn’t solve the problem of how we’re gonna pay her.”
“If she’s so desperate that she’s not got any kin or neighbors to stay with, she’ll probably be grateful for the room and board alone. Let’s give her a chance, at least. We’ve got room, and we’ll still be hospitable, no matter how bare our cupboards are.”
“I swear, if this is another one of your matchmaking schemes…”
“It’s not, so shut your trap.”
Beau heaved a long, tired sigh. “Guess I better head to the house and welcome the crippled up gal like a good host should.”
I really loved this! The writing is spectacular, descriptive yet not heavy-handed, with just a touch of romance and conspiracy to liven up the plot.
Portia is alone, a war widow, having buried her husband and infant daughter within 8 months of each other. The war has ended and she is not content to sit in her brother-in-law’s home–crowding her dearest friends–and seeks employment as a governess at a horse farm two day’s ride away from her home in Tennessee. Her new home is quite a bit more spectacular than any place she’s ever lived, but Beau Stanford is no longer the wealthy man he once was. His father had set their slaves free decades before the War Between the States, and still only keep Black Freedmen on their farm. Beau came back wounded from a bullet to the shoulder and a widowed man, his beloved Claire dead. His grief was so great he lashed out at his young son, Jonny, scaring the boy mute.
Portia aims to help. She needs to feel useful, and hates that she’s considered with suspicion on account of her husband being a Confederate–Jake was a kind and gentle man who kept no slaves and only entered the war because he was pressed. Beau’s black servants are more like family than help, and Beau himself does the lions’ share of work on the farm. His long-time friend, Henry, has designs on courting Portia, but she wants no part of that. She is intrigued by Beau, whose grief is still as deep as her own.
Jonny’s capable of speech, though he hasn’t spoken aloud in almost two years, but Portia’s able to carefully pry away his sorrow and make a deep connection. Unfortunately, as soon as Portia is able to get a foothold in the Stanford household, the arrival of Lydia and her scheming father, Oliver, throws all her work into disarray. Lydia has long held designs on Beau, and–while Beau is at first intrigued by Lydia’s resemblance to his beloved Claire–it’s clear that Lydia will get exactly what she wants, regardless of who she hurts to get her way. And Oliver is truly despicable.
I relished the quick plot movements and careful detail placement. This book immersed me in the desolate Reconstruction Era, where rebuilding is the state of the world, and lawlessness reigns in the vacuum of so many young men lost to war. Beau is honorable, self-sacrificing and industrious. He knows he must marry Lydia, and not only for his own mercenary needs, but he can’t help falling for Portia. She’s a totally different woman to Lydia, or Claire even, and he knows this strong, self-sufficient, brave woman is one who can stand by his side in these lean times. Portia doesn’t want to love again. She and Jake were childhood sweethearts, and yet she’s moved by Beau’s kindness and also loses her heart to Jonny completely. There are some plot twists that I half-suspected, but was pleasantly surprised in the execution.
In truth, there were a couple times I thought we’d hit the HEA, only to get sucker-punched into a new twist. Portia is a plucky woman–which I adored. Her life has always been a struggle, but she bobs and weaves, finding the best path she can trod of the limited paths available. Really, a great read. Don’t expect any heat, but it’s chock full of heart.
Interested? You can find A TIME FOR EVERYTHING on Goodreads and Amazon.
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About the Author:
Mysti Parker is a wife, mom, author, and shameless chocoholic. She is the author of the Tallenmere standalone fantasy romance series and The Roche Hotel romantic comedy series. Her short writings have appeared in numerous anthologies and magazines. Her award-winning historical romance, A Time for Everything, will be published this summer by EsKape Press.
Other writing pursuits include serving as a class mentor in Writers Village University’s seven week online course, F2K. She has published two children’s books (Quentin’s Problem & Fuzzy Buzzy’s Treasure) as Misty Baker.
When she’s not writing fiction,Mysti reviews books for SQ Magazine, an online spec-fic publication. She resides in Buckner, KY with her husband and three children.
You can catch up with Mysti online on her website, Facebook and twitter.