cover image A Time to Bloom

A Time to Bloom

Lauraine Snelling, with Kiersti Giron. Bethany House, $16.99 trade paper (352p) ISBN 978-0-7642-3572-6

Snelling returns to 1860s Salton, Neb., in the immersive second entry in her Leah’s Garden series (after The Seeds of Change). With the Civil War over, the four Nielsen sisters have plans to expand their garden and open a boardinghouse, but for now, Del supports her sisters with her teacher’s salary. After grasshoppers nearly destroy their garden, their older brother brings them plants from his home in Ohio. He’s accompanied by his friend R.J. Easton, a former Union Army engineer. In pain after losing an eye to a bushwhacker several months earlier, R.J. is often in a foul mood and makes a poor first impression on Del, but after a new treatment works wonders easing his pain, he takes an interest in her. He volunteers to help with building a schoolhouse, and when the structure comes together, Del’s reminded that “Nothing was or is or ever will be impossible with God.” R.J. and Del grow closer, but standing in the way is Del’s teacher’s contract, which forbids her from marrying. Snelling’s thorough research pays off in her vivid evocation of frontier-era Nebraska, which comes through in such small details as the haberdashery and millinery in town, and the attention to historically accurate marital clauses in teaching contracts. The result is a transportive historical worth getting lost in. (June)