The Baker family lived in the Willamette Valley – Ferndale, Oregon to be precise. Way back in 1842 before Linda was born her grandfather, Jonathan Baker, decided that his whole extended family needed to move to the west coast. He bought what he thought was a house big enough to accommodate them all (he was wrong, it turned out to be a log shack) and began the work of convincing his children and their spouses that his plan to plant a town with them in Oregon Territory was a good idea. That was before Oregon was even a proper Territory; it belonged to the country that could populate it first.
Jonathan and Margaret Baker had five children and ten grandchildren when they left for the disputed part of the Louisiana Purchase. The family didn’t want for money or land but Jonathan had always been an adventurer and being among the first families to settle in the west coast would be his ultimate adventure.
Not all of his fellow travelers were as fortunate as the Baker family and didn’t possess the biggest and best wagons for traveling. Most of the families either had nothing because of the Crash, or because they just had never had anything go right for them. The Thomas family was an example of the latter families. But Mrs. Thomas had a scheme that was surely going to pay big dividends – this time. She wanted Jonathan to join her but he wasn’t interested. She took his attitude as a personal insult and had a life-long grudge against “that snooty Baker family.” She hired a man only known as “the red haired man” in the first book – Sam – and used one of her sons, the poor Chester who is mentioned in the first chapter of the fourth book, to get even with them. So far the only plan that had succeeded was the slow murder of Jonathan. That wasn’t much of a victory since the Baker family didn’t even realize that their beloved patriarch hadn’t just died of old age. But he kept trying until, in Angels, Eagles and Fire the third book in the saga, his obsession drove him into a mindless deviant who did nothing the rest of his life but suck his thumb.
It was in the second book, Day by Day that Mr. Ed, as he told the girls they could call him, came into the story. Eduardo was the law in the Spanish town in Californio where Sam robbed and killed a business-man. He tracked Sam to Ferndale and was there when Chester and Sam kidnapped one of the Baker girls. Linda’s sister Alice Mae – who was a child still in grade school – followed. She intended to save her cousin somehow. Chester tried to shoot her but the lawman got there in time to save her life.
In the fourth book, the family had grown and expanded. The town that Jonathan established had attracted other families, so Ferndale was now a good sized town for that day and time. The boys in the family were all encouraged to go back east and finish their education so they got a taste of cultured society, but the girls were not so fortunate.
The Baker family decided to remedy the situation by exposing three of the oldest girls, Linda’s older sister Alice Mae, and her cousins Donna, and Rose to the culture that they heard was in California.
No one would have believed, in their wildest dreams that Alice, Donna, and Rose would end up in a desert, or as potential wives of a kind Mormon. Or doing washing from a boiling pot, over a fire; and bouncing a fretting baby on a hip; or clothed with itchy wool instead of the satin and silk the girls were used to.
Before the outbreak of the Civil War Alice and Ray were married, Jacob and Donna were happy with their little girl, Darlene and Chad Evert, Daniel and Rose, Gene and Pamela, and Pearl and Eli Thomas all had young families.
The Book, Banner of Love, started a few months before the start of the American Civil War, and ended after the war came to an end.
Linda and three strapping male cousins had gone to visit their married cousin, Mary, in South Carolina. Linda and her southern cousin and the war were a bad mix – sort of like Clorox and acid, and when the mixture blends, it boils over.
In the sixth book, Love Like a Rock, it was 1865; the war was over and most of the family had returned home. Cousin Robert wouldn’t be going home because he was buried in a southern battle field. His brother Wayne was captured by Union soldiers and left in the woods when the Confederates rallied and the Union army ran for their lives, leaving their prisoners behind. Linda didn’t know where he was.
Linda had met Nat Thomas during the war. He was a Union Major who was a close family friend from Ferndale, Oregon. He fought opposite Phillip, who fought on the side of the South in the late war. He saved Phillip’s life and, in the process, caught a ball in his knee cap and was on crutches. Phillip was a Confederate Private who Linda met while she was working in one of the South’s hospitals.
When the war was over Linda, Phillip, and Major Thomas left together for the Willamette Valley on a stage coach. That ended when Nat’s injured knee got jammed up against the door and began to swell and throb with pain. When the three of them started for the west coast in a stage coach, the other passengers pressed against Nat’s leg and his knee was rammed against the door of the conveyance. His leg swelled up and forced them to abandon the stage. That left them with no choice but to buy a wagon and ox to finish their trip.
The man who told them where to get the wagon also reminded them that Linda and Phillip couldn’t go home in a private transport without an older woman for a chaperon unless they were married. When they explained that they were going to her home in the Willamette Valley to get her father’s permission to get married the man just shook his head and led them to his pastor.
By Paula Rose on May 10, 2016
Inside LOVE LIKE A ROCK by Allison Kohn, we uncover a Western Historical tale about coming home, lessons from the past, new friends, old friends, and true love!
It’s 1865 and the Civil War had come to its end and three cousins had been in the middle of it all. Only two survived. The tattered remnants of the Civil War are returning home, but winter isn’t far off and home won’t come into sight until spring.
Linda (nee Baker) had met a wounded family friend and former Union soldier in Nat Thomas, but in Phillip Jensen, she’d meet her husband. It wasn’t a marriage the way one would have dreamed it to be, but in meeting this Confederate Private, saved by her friend, love was easy to discover as she worked in the South’s hospitals and saw the ravages of this war.
Nat with an injury and the newly married couple begin their trek not sure how long before they’d arrive at their destination. However, it’s the adventures they have, the circumstances they face, and the people they meet adding more suspense and danger to the daunting trip!
You’ll find an enjoyable love story where God’s word is central throughout and lessons of tolerance, faith, and endurance are aligned in the trials of these amazing characters.
***This opinion is my own.***
I was given the wonderful opportunity by the author to read this story as a beta reader, during the early working stages, for an honest review. And I enjoyed this tale so much that I purchased the book!