Out of the Ashes
The title refers to the main characters’ difficult pasts: Frenchman and ex-soldier Jean-Michel Langelier suffers from PTSD after fighting against a revolt in 1920s Syria, where he was unable to prevent the deaths of women and children trapped in a burning building. Jean-Michel’s former sweetheart, Katherine Demarchis, suffered physical and mental abuse from the senator her father forced her to marry. Now widowed, she embarks on a lengthy tour with her grandmother, stopping in Curry, Alaska. Katherine’s grandmother secretly writes Jean-Michel and invites him to Curry, an attempt to help Katherine heal. But both are so haunted by their pasts that they believe they aren’t fit for a relationship.
Crotchety hotel cook Mrs. Johnson, Jean-Michel’s flighty sister Collette, and the couple from the first book in the Heart of Alaska series, Cassidy and Allan, are all interesting secondary characters. I enjoyed the complexity of their relationships, and that the book didn’t focus on one couple alone. The only drawback is a man from Jean-Michel’s past turning up in Alaska too conveniently to solve one of his problems. The denouement could have been stronger without that. Recommended for inspirational fiction fans who like heavy religious content.