Part watchmaker and all business woman, Molly Knox has owned and operated a small, specialized watch company since her father died. A safe haven for men of the 57th Illinois Regiment who were injured in the Civil War, Molly's employees are like family to her. No matter what comes, she wants the best for her employees - whether in offers to purchase her business, fighting to compete against the new mechanized watch factories, or rebuilding after the great Chicago fire. Zach Kazmarek, the attorney of their sole watch outlet, has been fascinated by the woman for three years, and now he finally has the opportunity - and the incentive - to woo her, but between business practices, disasters, and their rather explosive encounters, he has a relationship as difficult to build as the razed Windy City herself.
What impresses me most about Camden's writing is her ability to create a unique story. Because her plots are so different from the run-of-the-mill historical romance, they linger far longer than most books I read. This is not the story of two people falling in love and realizing it when it is almost too late during the Chicago fire; this is the story of two people rebuilding their lives after the fire. Yes, they forged a relationship during the blaze; yes, it is the start of a romance; but these are not characters who exist solely to fall in love. Like real people, they strive to survive and God blesses them with love.
Her main characters are not defined largely by their relationships to each other, with a few interests to make them more interesting or real; her characters are defined by their talents, passions, habits, actions, and thoughts. They are extremely well rounded, passionate individuals. By the end, we know enough about them to know how they would react to just about anything. By trade, Molly is a watchmaker and a talented business woman; her passion is for the intricacies of watch mechanics. What she loves more than her business, though, is the people who work for her, and that love of others directs her decisions. Zach is a ruthless business attorney, but he is not heartless; he is fiercely protective of those whom he loves, and while he does not express his love for Polish history in the same way as his parents, he still goes to extravagant lengths to support them and their cause in his own way. She is calculating, straight-laced, by-the-book; he is impulsive, bold, a whirlwind. Both are flawed and in need of grace.
The plot is solid and the supporting characters distinctive with personalities of their own. The only thing Camden falls a little shy on is the Christian message that is more prevalent in her previous books. While her characters are God-honoring individuals, there was less of a gospel message or lesson to be learned. For that, 4 1/2 out of 5 stars.
Many thanks to Bethany House Publishers, which provided a free review copy for the express purpose of review. My opinions are my own; I was not required to write a positive review.