1807 – England
In the fallout of her deceased father’s financial ruin, Annabelle’s prospects are looking bleak. Her fiancé has called off their betrothal, and now she remains at the mercy of her controlling and often cruel brother. Annabelle soon faces the fact that her only hope for a better life is to do the unthinkable and run away to Fellsworth, the home of her long-estranged aunt and uncle, where a teaching position awaits her. Working for a wage for the first time in her life forces Annabelle to adapt to often unpleasant situations as friendships and roles she’s taken for granted are called into question.
Owen Locke is unswerving in his commitments. As a widower and father, he is fiercely protective of his only daughter. As an industrious gamekeeper, he is intent on keeping poachers at bay even though his ambition has always been to eventually purchase land that he can call his own. When a chance encounter introduces him to the lovely Annabelle Thorley, his steady life is shaken. For the first time since his wife’s tragic death, Owen begins to dream of a second chance at love.
As Owen and Annabelle grow closer, ominous forces threaten the peace they thought they’d found. Poachers, mysterious strangers, and murderers converge at Fellsworth, forcing Annabelle and Owen to a test of fortitude and bravery to stop the shadow of the past from ruining their hopes for the future.
1880 – Texas
From afar, Cimarron Creek seems like an idyllic town tucked in the Texas Hill Country. But when former schoolteacher Lydia Crawford steps onto its dusty streets in 1880, she finds a town with a deep-seated resentment of Northerners–like her. Lydia won’t let that get her down, though. All will be well when she’s reunited with her fiancé. But when she discovers he has disappeared–and that he left behind a pregnant wife–Lydia is at a loss about what to do next. The handsome sheriff urges her to trust him, but can she trust anyone in this town where secrets are as prevalent as bluebonnets in spring?
1863 – Brazil
It’s 1863, and schoolteacher Olivia Owens believes education should be a top priority in the newly established settlement of Good Springs. Between planning lessons and helping out on her family’s homestead, Olivia doesn’t have time for Gabriel McIntosh’s charming advances. When the council denies her request to build a schoolhouse, Olivia must challenge their ruling and teach private lessons—all while hiding frequent bouts of word blindness (dyslexia). If the council knew the new teacher couldn’t always read, they wouldn’t allow Olivia to teach anymore.
As a carpenter, Gabe McIntosh is working hard to help build the settlement of Good Springs, and once his land is granted, he begins constructing his own house. When Olivia discovers he plans to share it with her, she guards her heart from him. But Gabe is determined to win her affection and figure out what she’s hiding.
1891 – Washington
Schoolteacher Charlotte Brindle is relieved that her long journey from Boston to Wyldhaven is about to come to an end. And then the bullets start flying! As she sprawls on the floor of the coach and curls her arms around her head, she wonders whatever in the world possessed her to give up the civility of a Boston school for the promise of adventure on the wild frontier?!
Her fellow passenger, an elderly man named Patrick Waddell, has obviously angered the men outside. And he has no intentions of going down without a fight—or without a bargaining chip!
Sheriff Reagan Callahan grinds his teeth in frustration when Patrick Waddell emerges from the coach with the tiny slip of a schoolteacher as his hostage. Reagan’s perfectly planned-out capture has just been shot to smithereens. What had the town’s founder been thinking when he hired a woman like her? A petite and prim woman was not the kind of teacher Wyldhaven needed. He should be back at his desk drinking coffee! Instead, he now has to mount a rescue!
1890 – Montana
After discovering one of her young students has been abandoned along with his sisters, schoolteacher Sadie Young whisks them away to the safest place she knows—her own home. And when handsome cowboy Logan Marshal vows to assist her in caring for the children, she isn’t sure she wants his help…but she needs it. If she lets Logan get too close, though, he may discover the secret she’s convinced will be her ruin.
Logan Marshall isn’t looking for a family. But with the parentless children and their unflappable teacher tugging at his heart, it appears he has one—at least temporarily. The kids would like nothing better than to have a real mother and father, and with Logan slowly falling for Sadie, their deepest wishes just might come true…
1890 – Montana
With a little girl to raise, widowed single father Dawson Marshall could sure use some help—he just didn’t expect it to come from city girl Isabelle Redfield. Dawson has encountered city women before. He even married one. What if his little girl grows attached to Isabelle and the woman tires of ranch life just like his late wife did?
For heiress Isabelle, the fledgling Western town of Bella Creek, Montana, offers something more meaningful than her wealth: a chance to forge a useful life. But if she wants the townsfolk to value her for more than her money, she has to keep her identity hidden. A difficult feat, especially when it comes to the cynical cowboy whose sweet daughter she cares for after school. But will hiding the truth ruin her chance of earning Dawson’s love?
1900s – North Dakota
Deborah MacCallister, head nurse at the Blessing hospital, has loved Toby Valders since her school days, but she’s had enough of their on-again, off-again relationship. Toby truly cares for Deborah, but he’s never felt like he could commit to marriage or a family.
When Anton Genddarm, the new schoolteacher, comes to town, the young women of Blessing see a chance to force Toby’s hand with a little strategic matchmaking. But real sparks fly between Deborah and Anton, and she finds herself in an even more complicated situation. The attention she gets from Anton makes Toby do some serious soul-searching, but is it too late?
Then Deborah receives an invitation to study the latest advances in nursing at a hospital in Chicago, and she faces a hard choice. To leave or stay? Should she give up on the dream of Toby and accept the interest of Anton?
Collision of The Heart (Re-edited and covered, previously titled The Professor’s Heart)
1856 – Michigan
Mia Roper isn’t a typical nineteenth-century woman. Refusing to pass up the hard-won opportunity to prove herself as a journalist, she left Hillsdale, Michigan, hoping in vain that Ayden Goswell would follow her to Boston.
When the train bringing her back for her first major story crashes in a snowstorm outside town, Mia is stranded. Not even the survival of a fellow passenger, a toddler, can ease her heart’s sudden ache at seeing Ayden, now a history professor at the local college, courting someone else.
Ayden’s never gotten over the fact that the most fascinating woman he ever met chose her career over marriage…and he let her go. But marrying the department director’s daughter could at least guarantee him a permanent job. It’s a satisfactory arrangement, yet his kind, pretty bride-to-be has one simple flaw: she’s not Mia.
As soon as the trains are running, Mia will be leaving again, unless she and Ayden can reconcile ambition and love—and take a leap of faith together.
When Beth Thatcher returns to Coal Valley, she has much to be excited about. She anticipates Jarrick’s proposal of marriage and perhaps a spring wedding. The mine is expanding, and there are more schoolchildren than ever.
But the town’s rapid growth brings many challenges. A second teacher is assigned, and Beth finds herself going head-to-head with a very different philosophy of education–one that dismisses religion and rejects God. Fearful for the children who sit under the influence of Robert Harris Hughes, Beth struggles to know how to respond.
At the same time, Beth wonders if Jarrick is considering a position at her father’s company simply for her sake. Should she admit her feelings on the matter? Or keep silent and allow Jarrick to make up his own mind?