Engraved on the Heart

Written by Tara Johnson
Review by J. Lynn Else

Childhood friends Micah and Keziah both hide scandalous secrets. As a trained physician, Micah tries to help Keziah after she suffers an epileptic seizure during a high-society party, but Keziah’s Confederate father won’t allow it. Micah’s father was a known abolitionist, making Micah unwelcome in his hometown of Savannah especially now that the Civil War has started. At a secret meeting, Keziah learns through Micah the harsh truth about slavery and feels called by God to help. Soon, an opportunity presents itself when a runaway slave mistakenly sneaks into her wagon. However, Keziah’s family have their own plans for her life, one which includes marrying her to an older widowed gentleman. Duty-bound, Keziah goes along with the family’s plans despite her growing feelings for Micah. Meanwhile, Micah believes his secret is too devastating for anyone to love him once its revealed. But can Micah keep his feelings for Keziah buried when their dangerous work keeps pulling them together? Additionally, how long can Keziah continue before her family and fiancé discover her secret?

Early on, Keziah’s genuine voice and heartfelt faith pulled me into the story. Micah isn’t as strongly developed, but Keziah and Micah have good chemistry when together. Setting details, particularly about the social decorum that play a large part in Keziah’s decisions, are well-penned. The pacing is expertly balanced with diverse characters helping drive it forward, from steadfast Confederates to compassionate abolitionists to the slaves themselves. Johnson balances the different viewpoints sensitively and, in some cases, sympathetically. This is an intriguing tale about a divided family during the Civil War and is sure to delight readers of this era.