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Beyond All Measure: Dorothy Love

Friday, June 17, 2011
Good Reads Summary: Ada Wentworth, a young Bostonian, journeys to Hickory Ridge, Tennessee, in the years following the Civil War. Alone and nearly penniless following a broken engagement, Ada accepts a position as a lady's companion to the elderly Lillian Willis, a pillar of the community and aunt to the local lumber mill owner, Wyatt Caldwell. Ada intends to use her millinery skills to establish a hat shop and secure her future.

Haunted by unanswered questions from her life in Boston, Ada is most drawn to two townsfolks: Wyatt, a Texan with big plans of his own, and Sophie, a mulatto girl who resides at the Hickory Ridge orphanage. Ada's friendship with Sophia attracts the attention of a group of locals seeking to displace the residents of Two Creeks, a "colored" settlement on the edge of town. As tensions rise, Ada is threatened but refuses to abandon her plan to help the girl.

When Lillian dies, Ada is left without employment or a place to call home. And since Wyatt's primary purpose for staying in Hickory Ridge was to watch over his aunt, he can now pursue his dream of owning Longhorns in his home state of Texas.

With their feelings for each other growing, Ada must decide whether she can trust God with her future and Wyatt with her heart.

The plot is set in the Civil War era, the characters are well-developed and endearing to the reader, and the novel ends well with no cliff-hangers.  Ada and Wyatt are two of the main characters; a romance blooms between the two of them throughout the novel. Ada is looking for a new life after fleeing to Tennessee, her main dream to make hats for a living.  Hickory Ridge, the town Ada ends up in. is unsurprisingly prejudiced against both the blacks and the new Yankees.  Ada takes a job as caretaker to the elderly Lillian in order to save up for her dream of owning a hat shop.   Wyatt is the handsome man of the novel and the town's most eligible bachelor.  When he shows an interest in the unsuspecting Ada she receives more negative publicity than anything.  Sophie an orphaned, racially-mixed girl and stodgy, elderly Lillian make for terrific secondary characters; they provide the comic relief for the novel.  Ada must put her trust in God and potentially her heart with Wyatt.  This novel is well-written with romance, comedy, and action interwoven together.  The book is recommended for young adults/adults who enjoy books from the civil war era and romance.