About the Book
Book: A Life Once Dreamed
Author: Rachel Fordham
Genre: Historical Romance, Inspirational
Release Date: August 4, 2020
Six years ago, a shocking secret sent Agnes Pratt running in search of a new start. She found it in Penance, a rugged town of miners and lumberjacks in the Dakota Territory, where she became Miss Aggie, respected schoolteacher and confirmed old maid. But the past has a way of catching up with people.
When childhood friend and former sweetheart James Harris accepts a position as the town doctor, Aggie’s pleasantly predictable days suddenly become anything but. James wants to know why Agnes left behind the life they had dreamed of creating for themselves–but he is the one person who can never know.
In the shadows of the Black Hills, can a healing light be shed on the past? Or will the secret Agnes can’t seem to outrun destroy her chance at happiness?
Fan-favorite Rachel Fordham brings to life the dusty streets of an 1880s frontier town in this story that affirms where you come from matters far less than where you’re going.
A Life Once Dreamed by Rachel Fordham is a highly-engaging historical romance I thoroughly enjoyed. I was hooked into the storyline from page one and hated when I had to put the book down. To me, it’s quite a captivating read. I adored the townsfolk of Penance. They’re so unique and lively, and I love how they always have each other’s back no matter what. It’s so refreshing to fictionally engage with a town filled with people who genuinely care about one another. I wish our world was a little more like Penance! Of the many secondary characters, I especially loved Sam. He is fantastic and I hope Fordham will one day write Sam’s love story. As far as Agnes and James are concerned, I wholeheartedly enjoyed their characters. There’s a sense of the Biblical Hosea story to their story that I felt played out beautifully. Their relationship is a great mix of true friendship plus deep romantic tension. And, if this is not enough, A Life Once Dreamed tackles some very relevant and timeless themes that get the reader thinking. All in all, A Life Once Dreamed is an great must-read story!
What I enjoyed the most is the attention to setting and historical detail. As a woman in 2020, I often found it frustrating to experience the social strictures of the 1880s that Agnes constantly runs up against. I found myself physically squirming against these rules — rules like a woman had to quit her job to take care of a family member or if she got married, or the atrocious legal directives and social stigma against illegitimate children. To my modern sensibilities, I hated these social rules and ideologies because they seem so illogical, heartless, and harsh. I hated that 1880s society brushed over everyone with such a broad stroke with very little wiggle room or exceptions. Yes, I see the irony in my sentiments with today’s cancel culture society raging wild. We may as well be back in the 1880s for all the illogical, heartless, and harsh rules society is literally forcing on us today. But I digress! While I struggled emotionally with all of this, I actually rather enjoyed that I struggled because it allowed me to be a part of the story. This book is so well written and so engaging I felt like I was living in Penance in 1880 experiencing these regulations and social constructs right alongside Aggie. Feeling like I was a part of the story made the story more alive to me. I adore when a novel allows the reader to partake in the story!
A Life Once Dreamed is an excellent historical romance that I highly recommend. This is a must-read novel you do not want to miss. I am so glad I got to experience this story.
I received a review copy of this novel in eBook form from the publisher, Revell, via NetGalley. In no way has this influenced my review. The opinions expressed in this review are my own.