After the Shadows (Secrets of Sweetwater Crossing)

Written by Amanda Cabot
Review by Gini Grossenbacher

After the Shadows is a captivating historical romance set in 1882 in the Hill Country of Texas. Emily Leland, a widow, returns to her hometown, Sweetwater Crossing, to start a new life in her family’s homestead after the death of her abusive husband. Still, she soon discovers her hometown is not a haven but presents challenges. Yet, with the help of her new friends and a supportive community, she starts a boardinghouse and hosts a newly widowed father, headmaster Craig Ferguson. His idea of accepting all students, regardless of their abilities, contradicts the town’s beliefs in “spare the rod, spoil the child.”

Through the characters’ relationships, the author paints a vivid picture of rural Texas town life during the late 1800s. The social prejudices of the townspeople, particularly toward Beulah, a girl with special learning needs, reflect the Victorians’ common attitudes. The chemistry between Emily and Craig is palpable, and the slow, unfolding romance between them is sweet and tender. There is plenty of drama and excitement, but ultimately the hopeful message displays the courage it takes to overcome grief and love again.