Review – Miracle in New Hope by Kaki Warner

Cover for Miracle in New Hope by Kaki Warner

Publisher: Penguin
Publish Date: December 11, 2012
How I got this book: eARC from Netgalley

Amidst the snowy peaks of the Rocky Mountains in 1871, Daniel Hobart keeps to himself—a man with a hole in his heart that matches the scar on his face. But when Daniel starts having visions of a young girl crying out for help, he begins to fear that solitude may have caused him to lose his mind. Determined to find out the truth about the mysterious girl, Daniel travels into New Hope and learns that she’s the missing daughter of widow Lacy Ellis.

After a year of heartbreak, Lacy isn’t sure what to make of Daniel’s claims of seeing her daughter. But when he sets out to find Hannah on his own, Lacy decides to join him, allowing herself one last chance to hope. And as they retrace the long-cold trail of Hannah’s disappearance, two broken people manage to take some small comfort in each other, and in the possibility of a miracle…

*blurb from Goodreads

Kaki Warner has presented us with a lovely novella that, although not overtly related to the holiday season, is a particularly heartwarming story and just perfect for this time of year. One of the many challenges of writing a novella is creating a story that feels complete and not rushed. I actually felt like I was reading a full-length novel, but not because it took a long time to read. Rather because of the slow thoroughness to the language Warner uses to anchor the story in backcountry living. You get the sense that life has a much slower pace – as one might expect when the fastest mode of travel involves horses. This does not translate as boring however, far from it. The writing style and language is engaging.

My favorite section of the book includes the first third or so of the story where the narrative firmly grounds us in Daniel’s character. I enjoyed getting to know Daniel, his daily life experiences and musings. Clearly, Daniel is an intuitive, something probably not really discussed or perhaps even fully examined back in 1871. I found Warner’s approach to this interesting. She chose a straightforwardness to it, presented it in a matter-of-fact way as I could imagine it being discussed (or not) during that time period. There was a brief sanity check and then an acceptance and life moved on. No navel gazing or wonderment at the specialness of it.

We don’t get to know Lacy all that well. I didn’t really get a sense for the foundation of the romance or where it built from (outside of Daniel’s attraction to her). The courtship just seemed a foregone conclusion and Daniel didn’t seem to need Lacy’s input. While I did get a sense of Daniel’s attraction to Lacy, I didn’t get so much the other way around until much later. The main impetus for Daniel pursuing Lacy came from a statement made by Lacy’s brother and not Lacy herself. I suppose some of that could be explained by the time period (1871) and also the fact that although this is a romance, the primary focus of the novella stayed with Daniel and his journey of redemption. Having said that, the romance, once it developed, was sweet and conducted in the ways proper to the time (i.e., nothing explicit).

As for Daniel’s journey of redemption, this was mirrored in his efforts to find Hannah, Lacy’s daughter who had gone missing. The starkness of winter, the bitter cold and the obstacles encountered along the way represented the walls he had built around himself. He would have to overcome these challenges if he was ever to thaw the ice in his heart and find happiness again.

This was a very solid and entertaining read. I enjoyed it very much and will definitely add Kaki Warner to my list of authors I need to read more of.

My rating of Miracle in New Hope is a B.

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