Emilie Rhodes is eighteen, the daughter of a newspaper owner, and wants to be a journalist against the wishes of her parents. She plans a series of articles around the annual Chautauqua in her home town of Beatrice, Nebraska—when she is not accompanying her three cousins, the singing Spring Sisters (a Chautauqua is a musical, cultural and educational festival).
Noah Shaw was orphaned at thirteen, but despite his disadvantaged childhood has managed to create a successful career as an actor, performing at events around the country. He meets and is immediately attracted to Emilie, but a chance discovery about his parents and the truth behind the quilt his mother made might mean the end of the relationship.
There are a variety of supporting characters to add depth and interest to the plot, but not so many as to become confusing, and I liked all the characters. The plot was interesting and it was evident that the Chautauqua and the emerging women’s rights movement had been well-researched, but not so much that this intruded on the story. I like my historical fiction to be historically accurate, so this was a big plus.
I also liked the way the characters interacted, particularly Emilie and Noah. Their attraction was immediate, and believable. It is a whirlwind romance, but it rang true as they both had a shared Christian faith and common interests in the arts, with Emilie’s journalism and piano-playing, and Noah’s acting and reciting. Most importantly, I could feel the attraction in the writing, which is no small achievement.
I have enjoyed all the books in this series, but I think The Message on the Quilt is my favourite, partly because I could relate to Emilie trying to find her way to use her God-given talents in a male-dominated field. Each book can be read as a stand-alone, and they can be read in any order, as the common theme is a quilt, not characters or specific location. Recommended.
Thanks to Barbour and NetGalley for providing a free ebook for review.