A Time to Bloom (Leah’s Garden)

Written by Lauraine Snelling
Review by Bonnie DeMoss

1866. In this second book of the Leah’s Garden series, Delphinium “Del” Nielsen and her sisters have traveled west and settled in Nebraska. They are building a garden dedicated to their mother and trying to run a successful farm. But money is scarce, and the salary from Del’s work as a teacher is much needed. However, the schoolhouse must be rebuilt, and the men who run the town are not making it much of a priority. Soon their brother Anders arrives with friends RJ and Climie. RJ lost an eye right after the Civil War and then found out he’d been jilted by his fiancée. Climie is fleeing an abusive husband who wants his “rightful property” back. RJ himself is withdrawn and has lost his sense of self-worth. Will a new location, a job, and new friends change his outlook?

Although this is a Christian romance, it is also an informative look back at 1860s Nebraska and the hardships of the time. The sisters are engaging, resourceful, faithful, and determined. RJ is the most interesting character, as he has lost faith in himself, God, and everybody else. The rebuilding of his life, a story in itself, is the best part of this novel. As he heads up building the boarding house, RJ is being built anew as well. Del is such a strong protagonist as she farms, battles grasshoppers, fights for her students, and even begins a romance. Themes of racism and spousal abuse at the time really round out this story. Through the attitude of the town leaders and the life of Climie, we also see how few rights women had back then. Fans of Christian historical fiction will enjoy reading this second book about the Nielsen family. It can be read as a standalone.