Book Review

ARC Book Review: Where the Lost Wander by Amy Harmon

Rating: ☆☆☆☆☆
Audience: Historical fiction romance
Length: 348 pages
Author: Amy Harmon
Publisher: Lake Union Publishing
Release Date: April 28th, 2020
Image & Other Reviews on: Goodreads

BOOK SUMMARY:

In this epic and haunting love story set on the Oregon Trail, a family and their unlikely protector find their way through peril, uncertainty, and loss.

The Overland Trail, 1853: Naomi May never expected to be widowed at twenty. Eager to leave her grief behind, she sets off with her family for a life out West. On the trail, she forms an instant connection with John Lowry, a half-Pawnee man straddling two worlds and a stranger in both.

But life in a wagon train is fraught with hardship, fear, and death. Even as John and Naomi are drawn to each other, the trials of the journey and their disparate pasts work to keep them apart. John’s heritage gains them safe passage through hostile territory only to come between them as they seek to build a life together.

When a horrific tragedy strikes, decimating Naomi’s family and separating her from John, the promises they made are all they have left. Ripped apart, they can’t turn back, they can’t go on, and they can’t let go. Both will have to make terrible sacrifices to find each other, save each other, and eventually…make peace with who they are.

Thank you to the publisher and Netgalley for an eARC. All opinions are my own!

LOVE ON THE TRAIL.

I am in awe of Harmon’s writing and how amazing this love story was. And on the Oregon Trail! What a unique setting y’all. I was incredibly impressed with the flow and build of this book. The writing is beautiful and well-paced. I am reminded with each of her books how much I love this author.

This romance comes off a bit more fast paced than I typically love, but the historical setting and writing really made me fall in love with Naomi and John as they fell in love. Naomi is strong, brave and a widow at 20. Her singular goal is helping her family cross the nation to a hopefully brighter future in California. I enjoyed her personality and mindset. She knew exactly what she wanted and made those wishes known. John was stoic and quiet. The perfect contrast to Naomi. He was searching for a place to belong and found his home with her.

While this is mostly a romance I was enthralled by everything else happening around them. My heart continually leaped and panicked throughout this book because Harmon doesn’t shy away from history. She has clearly well researched this time period to bring this story to life. Naomi and John (+Naomi’s family) definitely do not have it easy and it was hard to pull out all the good things that did happen to them. This was a hard read, especially when you stop to appreciate all the travelers and Native Americans went through as their world began to change through exploration.

It’s difficult to fully express my love for Harmon’s writing and her ability to weave together an ending that always makes me tear up. There’s learning moments, powerful connections, undeniable bonds and a faith in the characters that you can deeply feel. Where the Lost Wander isn’t a sugarcoated romantic tale. It’s raw, poignant, and utterly wonderful in all of its lows and its highs.

I also took a chance to read the Author’s Note at the end and loved it as well. I like to read these (especially for historical fiction) to see what artistic choices the author chose as well as what inspired the story. This one in particular was inspired by some of Harmon’s husband’s ancestors. It really brought home how deeply she felt for these characters (some being based on real people) and how much she wanted to write a story involving them.

Overall audience notes:

  • Historical fiction romance
  • Language: very little
  • Romance: kisses, make outs, a few very little detail fade out scenes
  • Violence: physical, guns, arrows
  • Trigger warnings: some racist remarks about Native Americans, sexual assault, rape (ch. 17 – a few paragraphs with little detail)

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