It usually isn’t a good idea to start with the second book in a series. But as I dove into, Though My Heart is Torn, I was completely unaware of the prequel. However, author Joanne Bischof, develops an excellent stand-alone story, while leaving me longing for the rest of the story.
Though My Heart is Torn, opens in a homey, romantic setting as the central couple work side by side in their apple orchard. Gideon and Lonnie O’Reilly are relative newly weds. Using vague, but indicative dialogue, Bischof alerts her readers to the couple’s troublesome past. Finally, after the birth of their son Jacob, are they beginning to fall deeply in love.
As a young man, Gideon had been a reckless cad; Lonnie, the last among his careless flings. Finally, in the shelter of their own home and under the gentle guidance of an elderly, mentoring couple, they have put the past behind them.
Bischof quickly inducts her readers into the heart-wrenching drama. Cassie Allan bursts cruelly into their peaceful world, accusing Gideon of abandoning her, his rightful wife. By the third chapter, the O’Reilly’s lives have fallen apart. In a matter of days, Gideon is forced to remarry Cassie; Lonnie and Jacob are sent home to mend their hearts, husband and fatherless.
The rest of the story moves seamlessly between the new families. Every two or three chapters, the narrative shifts. For a moment, focusing on Gideon and his agonizing, bitter life with a woman he doesn’t love. Then, Lonnie who feels broken, betrayed and confused. Bischof shows delicate skill in the development of her characters’ inner dialogue. Quite literally, she leads the reader into each character’s mind.
Personally, my empathy swung wildly between the two women. As for Gideon, one moment I was indignant with him, the next praying that he would find the courage to carry on.
In the story, morally defining, “till death do us part,” became difficult, leaving my emotions even more vulnerable. In fact, at one point, I despaired to finish the book, certain that it would not end well. I was stubbornly set on reuniting Gideon and Lonnie. Love conquers all, I wanted to declare. But Bischof forced me to consider the times when what feels right is not what is right.
Never before have I read a book that played my sentiments so skillfully, and spun my moral compass so violently. By the end of the book, I came admire Cassie, despite her failures. Love had begun to blossom between her and Gideon, and against all odds, Lonnie was moving on as well.
Just as I was willing to accept a different and better ending than my own, the tables flipped again. Suddenly, there is hope for true love, forgiveness and happily ever after. The final chapter left me no option but to read the sequel as quickly as possible.