A PLACE CALLED HARMONY Jodi Thomas
A Harmony Novel
A Perfect 10
Berkley Publishing Group
ISBN: 978-0-425-25078-5
October 2014
Historical Fiction

Harmony, Texas 19 th Century

Harmon Ely has a dream. His little trading post sits in the middle of nowhere Texas, and he's been robbed, had the place burned to the ground, and still he keeps dreaming. Someday, Harmon wants a town built around his post where he can add to the sign he has made Population 1, and one dog. Harmon puts out the word that he wants only married men to come help make this a community.

Clint Truman is a man with no future after losing his wife and two daughters to sickness. He's spent the post war years since their deaths either drunk or in trouble of some kind. But Sheriff Lightstone of Huntsville sees something in Truman that others don't, and he's trying to give him the future Clint thinks is lost. The sheriff is friends with Harmon and knows that in order to build a town, Harmon needs families. Offering Truman a way out of his troubles, he convinces him to take as his wife a woman just released from jail, a woman with a newborn baby and her own pile of pain. Figuring that somehow these two can help each other, the sheriff is surprised that Truman goes along with the plan.

Captain Gillian Matheson, dedicated to his army career, but still in love with his wife, gets a letter from her telling him to join her at a trading post in March, nothing else. Worried that something is wrong with her or their sons, the captain sets off to find out. His guilt at leaving her for so long at her family's farm and not being a father to his two sons weighs heavily on him. His journey will not be alone, though, for he has rescued a young girl from a band of outlaws, and he's planning on leaving her at a mission along the way. All does not go well, however, when the outlaws find them. Gillian is shot, and he only has the girl, Jessie, to keep him alive and get them to the trading post.

Bullied by his irrational father since childhood, Patrick McAllen plots to do what his older brothers did, leave. His mute brother, Shelly, helps Patrick and his neighbor, Annie, leave Galveston. When Patrick and Annie get married, they outfit a wagon and set off for Harmon Ely's trading post. Patrick is young, but he's got carpentry skills, and a growing love for his young wife. If only he could shake off the thought that his father will track him down and kill him. The man nearly beat Patrick to death a few years before, and the boy knows that by leaving home, he has enraged his father.

And so begins the town of Harmony. A PLACE CALLED HARMONY sets the stage for the beautifully written Harmony novels that depict the three families of Truman, Matheson, and McAllen. Each husband has his own personal issues to come to terms with, but the growing friendships and struggles of daily life take precedence, making their past troubles seem less important. The wives are sources of strength and wonder, and Harmon gleefully adds to his growing population sign, hiding his own sadness.

I've loved the Harmony series, every one of them, and this prequel is as lovingly presented. If readers haven't read the entire series, A PLACE CALLED HARMONY is a great place to start. Another Perfect 10 for Jodi Thomas.

Jani Brooks