For three years, Penny Ercanbeck has been opening other people’s mail. Dead ends are a reality for clerks at the Dead Letter Office. Still she dreams of something more–a bit of intrigue, a taste of romance, or at least a touch less loneliness. When a letter from a brokenhearted man to his one true love falls into her hands, Penny seizes this chance to do something heroic. It becomes her mission to place this lost letter into the hands of its intended recipient.
Thomas left his former life with no intention of ending up in Azure Springs, Iowa. He certainly didn’t expect a happy ending after what he had done. All he wanted to do was run and never look back. In a moment of desperation, he began to write, never really expecting a reply.
When Penny’s undertaking leads her to the intriguing man who touched her soul with his words, everything grows more complicated. She wants to find the rightful owner of the letter and yet she finds herself caring–perhaps too much–for the one who wrote it.
Why This Book:
Opening Lines from Chapter 1:
Washington DC, 1883
I fell in love with Penny Ercanbeck on page one of the prologue! Honestly, she is a delight to read about and from the very first page I wanted to know more about her journey. By the time I’d finished the first chapter, I was hooked. These characters and this story had my heart and my attention.
Penelope “Penny” Ercanbeck – She reminds me just a bit of Anne Shirley in the sense that she is a hopeless romantic with an incredibly strong imagination and a heart that bleeds for others–even complete strangers. Which is exactly what gets this adventure started.
Thomas Connor – Perhaps it is because we first see Thomas through Penny’s eyes as she reads his letter, but from the first time I “met” Thomas, I just wanted to reach through the book and give him a hug. This poor man has had to learn life’s lesson in a very difficult way. Thankfully, we have an amazing Lord who works all things for the good of those who love Him.
Margaret – The mildly eccentric owner of the Azure Springs boardinghouse. I remembered her from The Hope of Azure Springs and it was hilarious getting to know her better.
Dinah – A needed contrast to Penny’s dreamy outlook, Dinah is a very down-to-earth girl who pursues life on her own terms. She reminded me a bit of Jane Austen’s Charlotte, though I think Dinah is more fun.
Hugh – Another character I recognize from The Hope of Azure Springs, Hugh becomes Thomas’s closest friend. (Rachel, if you’re reading this, I think I’d enjoy reading more of his story in a novella. Just saying.)
Clara – The mysterious woman to whom Thomas writes those letters that wind up at the dead letter office.
And, of course, we get to see a bit of how life is going for the hero and heroine of The Hope of Azure Springs: Em and Caleb. But I won’t give any of that away in case you haven’t read it yet. (But if you haven’t, what are you waiting for?! Get to it!)
Emotional Engagement & Pacing of the Story:
While this isn’t a suspense novel that keeps you on the edge of your seat, there is plenty of mystery and action to keep those pages turning. Really, though, it’s the relationship between Penny and Thomas that had me hooked. I really connected with these characters and I didn’t want to put the book down until I knew how their story was going to end. (Or begin, depending on how you look at it.)
This story took me through the whole gamut of emotions. Some parts had me choked up, others made me want to smack certain characters around a little…or a lot (I know, I know violence isn’t the answer), and other parts had me belly-laughing.
As for the mystery, I must admit I did not see the answers coming. I expected something different entirely but when it all came out, it made perfect sense. Which is what any good mystery is supposed to do, right?
Elements I especially liked/disliked:
Learning how the dead letter office worked from the perspective of a clerk was fascinating. I felt as though I were right there in the room with the workers there.
And, as I mentioned above, I love revisiting this amazing little town “not on the way to anywhere” and getting to know its inhabitants better.
The power of the written word (or Word as the case may be).
As I mentioned above, the mystery was perfectly executed. As for the romance… it was beyond swoon-worthy. Honestly, I could not have asked for more from the ending of this novel. And I will even add that in the time since I finished reading it, I have found myself wanting to go back and revisit Fordham’s world. With so many exciting new novels to read, I rarely find time to reread any, but this is a novel I could definitely see myself rereading.
5 out of 5 stars
Your Truly, Thomas releases TOMORROW!!! Preorder your copy today!
Have you read the Hope of Azure Springs? Do you still mail handwritten letters?
Psst! Feel free to borrow any of the photos above for sharing on social media and remember to tag me @KathleenDenly !
Note: I received a free copy of this book from the publisher, but was NOT required to write a positive review. You may read my full disclosure of materials HERE.