A Life Once Dreamed by Rachel Fordham

August 20, 2020

Author: Rachel Fordham
Genre: Historical Christian Romance
Publisher: Revell
Release Date: August 4, 2020

Six years ago, a shocking secret sent Agnes Pratt running in search of a new start. She found it in Penance, a rugged town of miners and lumberjacks in the Dakota Territory, where she became Miss Aggie, respected schoolteacher and confirmed old maid. But the past has a way of catching up with people.

When childhood friend and former sweetheart James Harris accepts a position as the town doctor, Aggie's pleasantly predictable days suddenly become anything but. James wants to know why Agnes left behind the life they had dreamed of creating for themselves--but he is the one person who can never know.

In the shadows of the Black Hills, can a healing light be shed on the past? Or will the secret Agnes can't seem to outrun destroy her chance at happiness?

Fan-favorite Rachel Fordham brings to life the dusty streets of an 1880s frontier town in this story that affirms where you come from matters far less than where you're going.


Oh wow!! This book is going as one of my favorites this year!! This was my first by Rachel Fordham and now I must own all of them and she needs to write more. The characters are so relatable and she transports you to the town of Penance and you feel like you are there and part of these people's lives. 

I really loved Agnes Pratt who leaves her life in New York and the love of her life to become a teacher in the Dakota territory. She does this to protect her intended from being held back because of something she finds out about herself. She makes a life for herself in Penance and perfectly content in being a teacher and denies herself from having any relationships that would end up in marriage as she is not interested in that. She really blossomed from a shy socialite to an outspoken woman who holds back nothing and tries to help everyone. 

James loves Aggie and can't quite understand why she ever left him without an explanation. He becomes a doctor and answers the ad to become the doctor in Penance. He is not only wanting to pursue his career but really he is there looking for Aggie. 

I love the banter and relationship between Agnes and James! You can tell right away that she is completely in love with him and that he is absolutely smitten with him. The way he teases her is endearing and so sweet. At times it really makes you chuckle. He knows her so very well but he is hurt that she won't confide in him on why she left. 

I definitely don't want to spoil the book for you because you really should go and get it but this book deals with the topic of illegitimate children and I thought it was so well done. It truly touches at your heartstrings. I know that stigma is not as prevalent as it was back then but I think as with anything there is still that look we as humans tend to give to the fatherless/motherless and as Christians we need to do a better job at taking care of those that are. Whether its through adoption, fostering or even adopting that family unit as part of yours... its definitely something we should pray and keep in our hearts as a way to help. This story just hit my heart and spoke to me. 

The only sad part for me was that there was an epilogue because it closed out the story but I am a greedy reader and I want more! I want to know what happens to some of the other characters like Sam and know more about Hannah, Minnie and overall the whole town of Penance! 

My Rating: 5 Stars/Loved it, touched my soul!

Favorite Quote: "Life is not a cruel joke. There's purpose to it. I believe it. Even the pain has purpose and there's joy to be had." ~ Hannah

(I received a copy of this book through the Revell Readers Blogger program. I was not required to post a positive review. All views expressed are only my honest opinion.)

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Rachel Fordham has long been fascinated by all things historical or in the words of her children "old stuff". Often the historical trivia she discovers is woven into her children's bedtime tales. Despite her love of good stories she didn't attempt writing a novel until her husband challenged her to do so (and now she's so glad he did). Since that time she's often been found typing or researching while her youngest child naps of frantically writing plot twists while she waits in the school pick-up line. In addition to her passion for storytelling she enjoys reading, being outdoors and seeing new places. Rachel lives with her husband and children on an island in Washington state. Learn more about current projects at rachelfordham.com

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