What defines a family? Is it blood, love or something else? What defines a father or a mother? What is more important, having fathered someone or take care of a child since her first breath even if it’s not yours? Hidden Truths by Jae doesn’t pretend to answer this questions but the author surely puts you in the position of thinking about it.
The fantastic sequel of Backwards to Oregon shows us what happened with Luke and Nora’s life after their happily ever after and it couldn’t be better. After years of being together, there are no doubts between them about their feelings for each other, but now we have a deeper glimpse of their life together and some characters are added, Amy and Nattie, who were children in the previous book. So not only Nora and Luke will have to face the daily routine in Baker Prairie with all the difficulties this entails, they will have to take into consideration their daughters before making any decision because it will have consequences in their future. More than that, these beautiful, innocent and wonderful women will add some adventures to their parent’s life.
But let’s talk about the characters. We already know Luke and Nora and what they have gone through to live the life they wanted.
Hidden Truths starts seventeen years after the first book. This way, we will be introduced to Amy as a young woman who is as obsessed with horses as the person who she considerate her father. She doesn’t feel part of anything but her family because she isn’t like any other woman in town. You see, Amy isn’t worried about meeting a man, getting married and having children, she’s more worried about her feelings towards Hannah, Bernice’s daughter and her dear friend for so long. Trying to hide her feelings, Amy will set for a life based on learning how to run the ranch and make her parents proud because she knows for sure that her unnatural preferences have no future, less a happy one.
Hendrika Aaldenberg is accustomed to sacrifice, loneliness and thinking about what it’s necessary to do in order to survive, setting aside any dream about being happy or finding love. After suffering because of a not-loving father and a husband that was more preoccupied of a bottle than his wife, Hendrika soon learns that life isn’t about fairy tales and happy endings, is about fighting and keep doing it until her last breath. Her job in a mill and her friend’s vulnerable situation convince her to do whatever it takes to survive.
Destiny will reunite these two women who are so alike and so different at the same time to teach them that they were wrong thinking that they can’t achieve happiness, but it won’t be an easy path to walk, they will have to sacrifice something as Luke and Nora and Tess and Frankie have done before them.
What amazes me more and more with each book I read of Jae is her ability to write characters so vivid and real so you can feel them as if they were beside you telling you their story. The love between Nora and Luke and what they feel towards their daughters is palpable, so beautiful that brings tears to my eyes reading about what they’re capable of to see Amy and Nattie happy, even if it risks everything they have built. The sacrifices that Luke is ready to commit for her daughters are sweet, deep and heartbreaking. What she feels for her family touches my heart, and is amazing to think that, in Backwards to Oregon, she was a woman who didn’t know how to love, never thought about having a family and being loved, never felt as if she deserved it or could belonged to something.
You see, after Backwards to Oregon I thought they have achieved what they wanted and the story was closed but I couldn’t be more wrong. Nora and Luke love each other, that’s undeniable, but they have built their lives on a weak base, one based on lies and pretending, which makes their life style vulnerable.
If you fell in love with these fantastic characters, so complex, layered and alive, and their beautiful story, don’t miss Hidden Truths. Jae, keep them coming!