Hearts of Mercy – Joan Donaldson

Lavinia Walker, Viney, had experienced her share of tragedy in her young life. Her mother had died shortly after she was born. Her “daddy“ had abandoned her and her siblings. More recently, her sister’s fiancé had passed away, and her fiancé had broken off their engagement and moved away.

When Viney entered the parlor of the boardinghouse where her sister lived, a white-haired bearded man sat beside Lizzy. “Viney, meet our daddy.”

The old man had reentered his children’s lives with a simple request – to get to know them. He was in failing health and one of the sisters needed to temporarily move into his cabin in the Smokey Mountains. Viney had never forgiven that man and certainly wasn’t going to call him daddy.

Leaving her farm in the Cumberland Mountains, near the progressive town of Rugby, Viney couldn’t help but be impressed with the rolling ridges of the Smokies. Meeting her Uncle Abe and his family revealed that things might not be as serene as they first seemed in Wears Cove.

An unexpected attraction to her cousin, James, set in action a series of events that could very well bring danger to the quiet little cabin in the cove. As her father’s health waned and her feelings for James deepened, Viney had to face one threat after another from a dangerous clan known as the White Caps.

Author Joan Donaldson follows-up her first novel of historical fiction, On Viney’s Mountain, with a rousing tale of nineteenth-century life in the Tennessee Mountains. Hearts of Mercy continues the story of the unlikely heroine based on the life of Dicey Fletcher. Viney has grown into a strong woman who is still in search of her happy ending. How much tragedy must she go through before she finds true love?

Donaldson brings to light a dark part of American History when the White Caps ruled Sevier County, Tennessee. The supremacy group that disciplined women was comprised mostly of men who had fought in the Civil War some two decades earlier. Viney was an outsider to the community. Would she be able to spearhead an effort to stop the White Caps and bring justice and peace to the women of the cove?

Hearts of Mercy is the perfect book to cuddle up with on a rainy day. You will keep turning the pages; this is a well-written story that is an easy read. Well worth your time.
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