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In the high desert town of Frenchman’s Bluff, Idaho, Felicia Kristoffersen has set out to create a future for herself that is better than her painful past. Alone in the world with only her faith to sustain her, she must prove herself as this tiny community’s new school teacher. She cannot, must not, fail. But, there are those who never wanted her there to begin with. Five years after the death of his wife, local merchant Colin Murphy cares about just one thing: raising his daughter, Charity. Colin wants to give her the educational advantages he never had. The new schoolmarm’s inexperience doesn’t sit well with him, and if this teacher up and marries like the last one did, Charity’s heart will be broken once again. A woman who hasn’t known love. A man who lost the love he had. In the midst of the wide, sage-covered plains, each is about to discover that life’s bitterest circumstances truly can work together for good. Tender, evocative, and beautifully written, Belonging is a journey about love after loss, and about two hearts destined to become one—despite their stubbornness! Belonging is Robin Lee Hatcher at her best! —Tamera Alexander, bestselling author of Within My Heart and The Inheritance Belonging is vintage Robin Lee Hatcher: a touching, tender love story, filled with genuine conflict and characters that quietly build a nest in your heart. A skillful blend of description, emotion, and spiritual reflection, Belonging will sweep you away to late nineteenth-century Idaho, glad to have a seasoned novelist driving your buckboard wagon with a sure hand. By story's end you'll no doubt sigh with relief, smile with delight, and turn back to page one for a second visit with our determined Miss K. Loved it!" — Liz Curtis Higgs, New York Times bestselling author of Mine Is the Night

Published: Zondervan on Aug 23, 2011
ISBN: 9780310411833
List price: $3.99
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4.5 stars

I really liked this one! Felicia Kristoffersen was a really lovely character, and Colin Murphy was so great, although sorta... gruff... at times. Kid characters often run the risk of being annoying, but I really liked Colin's daughter, Charity. I also really liked Felicia's new friend Kathleen.

Felicia's past is painful, and she's finally able to get out into the world and do what she longs to do: teach. She is accepted for a position in a remote town in Idaho and is excited and nervous to teach, especially since she got her teachers' license almost 10 years ago and has no teaching experience yet!

Colin, a widower with a 9?-year-old daughter, Charity, owns the general store. He's illiterate, but realizes that education is the key to Charity having a better life with more opportunities than he had. He wants her to get the best education possible... and he doesn't think Miss Kristoffersen is a good choice for the town. She's just another single woman who will come to town, fall in love, and quit teaching after 6 months or so. He wanted a male teacher with a family... one who would provide the schoolchildren with stability. He and Mrs. Summerville (Kathleen's dead husband's mother) were the only two opposing votes on the school board.

Then there's Mrs. Summerville... she is VERY controlling... riches woman in town, etc., etc., etc. You know—the mean, old, rich biddy type. Anyway, she's decided that her daughter-in-law, Kathleen, who has been widowed for a couple of years now, should marry Colin, so Kathleen's been making herself "available"... and even though they both know it, neither of them is very interested in the other in that way. Mrs. Summerville's plan is threatened by a new young woman in town, and she goes out of her way to make things difficult for Felicia.

Anyway, soon Colin and Felicity are feeling that pull toward each other, but then Felicity "finds out" that Colin and Kathleen are "engaged" (according to GUESS WHO!), and so she's like, "Oh my gosh! She's my friend! I can't do that do her!"

Anyway, it was cute. It had a great message on not being a gossipy, rude, know-it-all jerk-face, like Mrs. Summerville, and about how you shouldn't judge others. :) I really liked it! The ending was SUPER cute!!!read more
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Belonging (Where the Heart Lives #1) by Robin Lee HatcherPage Count: 277Release Date: 23 August 2011Publisher: ZondervanSource: Complimentary copy provided by publisher in exchange for an honest and unbiased review (thank you!!)Review: At ten, Felicia Brennan Kristofferson was orphaned; at twenty-six, she was orphaned for the second time. The deaths of her adoptive parents leaves her completely independent—save the malicious "cousin" who wants her to marry into the Kristofferson family to face the fate of inevitable domestic houselife—so the teaching job that brings her to Frenchman's Bluff, Idaho, is a haven—a godsend. The small, close-knit town welcomes Felicia with open arms, but there are a few who underestimate and actually disapprove of her position. Their suspicions are not without reason, however; the previous two schoolteachers each stayed less than one year each, before marrying off and ditching the children completely, so some parents are concerned she just may be taking advantage of the job, as the others did.Felicia's incredible dedication to her career, her students, and to God, however, proves that she only has one motive to be in Frenchman's Bluff, and that is to serve the Lord and the children. Her heart contains nothing pureness, and maybe a few nostalgic bruises; she is determined to take this fresh start and make it right. I was amazed at how well and how deeply her character is explored. All of the characters are remarkably well-developed, secondary characters included. I loved the good guys and hated the bad; Hatcher makes it very easy to tap into the minds of each cast member, from the main character, to the antagonist, which I know is not an easy feat in and of itself.The plot is tasteful and well-crafted, incorporating bits of Christian values smoothly. The storyline is not terribly exciting, but it's planned perfectly, and mighty clever. The development of Felicia's relationships with all the townspeople, as well as with Colin and Charity, is a real treat. While I did like how the inspirational messages weren't forced, I did feel sometimes the book was unreasonably preachy. Felicia silently prays or makes a plea to God at every ill thought and every remote turn in plan; not only is this slightly annoying, but it's also unnecessary. As a character, she's irritatingly sensitive; she tears up at every reminder of her past. I know it's sad, and I know she's a fragile woman, but that kind of behavior is girly (in a bad way) and weak. I would have liked to have seen more strength from Felicia—the kind of strength acquired over ten years, of overcoming the heartbreak of being torn apart from family at a young age. Colin's character is a bit more relatable; he too, has an upsetting past, but his safe, widowed, day-to-day life is his own way of recovery. His dedication to his daughter, especially, is incredibly real and hits close to home.Stylistically, Hatcher is a gem. Her words flow smoothly and beautifully. The procession of the story moves seamlessly; I didn't have to plod through it at all! One thing that did irk me was the curtness of the dialogue: lots of one-worded responses from not just one, but all of the characters. Maybe this was the norm in 1897, but to me, it just sounds unwelcoming. The deep probing of—the scars, fears, and secrets of—each of the characters' minds makes up for it, though. I really have no complaints on how Hatcher chose to portray her characters fully.I cannot confidently classify this as a romance novel. In the traditional sense, yes, it's a romance in that boy meets girl on the first page and boy gets girl by the last, but it's rather unorthodox. There is no attraction—in fact, there is unattraction—until about halfway throughout. Then small, totally non-sexual, tingly feelings rise in Colin and Felicia's stomachs whenever they see each other—more than a several times—and then they abruptly SPOILER get married and live happily ever after. I will say their relationship is complex, especially with Colin's initial reservations and Felicia's interaction with his young daughter, but it just didn't seem at all romantic to me. It bothered me that Colin's character is compromised when it is revealed that he never was in love with his wife. He loved her, of course, and is still grieving her death, but his marriage to her is described as "practical." I feel this is uncharacteristic and was only included so that his relationship could further with Felicia. Again, this makes the so-called romance unrealistic and a bit stilted. For a content advisory, there isn't one; the romance is 100% chaste (absolutely no sex, absolutely no physical interaction except at the end—in hindsight, this may be why I didn't enjoy it as much) because it sticks to traditional 19th century Christian values.The power of staying faithful to God and leading life with a pure, wholesome outlook prove to be the key to happiness in Belonging. Through Felicia, readers understand and rejoice because, no matter what troubles and turmoils arise, God always saves and protects. Accidents will occur, plans will be ruined, and people will try to get in the way, but in the end, maintaining a loving, kind heart is what makes individuals truly belong.Pros: Amazing character development // Easy, smooth flow to story; book moves and finishes quickly // Well-penned writing style // Colin and Felicia have a strong rapport, though not necessarily a romance // Strong morals on family and love // Believable situations and characters // Not too dense with historical information; fictional town and setting actually quite charmingCons: Slightly preachy in religious message // Felicia is pathetic at times // Romance is poorly developed // Dialogue sometimes unrealistic and lacks emotionLove: Kathleen could scarcely believe those words had come out of her mouth ... She must be losing her mind.Or perhaps she was beginning to find it.Verdict: Belonging is a clean, gorgeously-crafted Christian historical that encompasses an absence—and a discovery—of belonging, a passion for God, and a huge misunderstanding, or rather: several small misunderstandings that constitute for one conflict of fate. By demonstrating the importance of determination, dedication, and faith, Belonging conveys the almighty power of love—for God, for family, and for oneself through one woman's search for a place to belong. The religious undertone is strong, and the characterization, stronger; Hatcher has succeeded in telling an inspirational, absorbing, and completely feel-good story. 8 hearts: An engaging read; highly recommended.read more
Is this review helpful? Yes | NoThank you for your feedback.
As a girl, Felicia had asked God why her adoptive parents couldn't love her. Why had they taken her into their home if they hadn't really wanted her? She would never know the answer to that question, not in her lifetime anyway. But it was time to let go of the wound it had left on her heart. Now as Felicia Brennan Kristoffersen prepares to leave one life behind and begin another, she knows God will be by her side the whole way.Boise, Idaho - 1887Felicia's newest venture in life after leaving behind the life of caring for her adoptive parents, Britta and Lars Kristofferson who died hours within each other in their older years, is moving to Wyoming and taking on the job as the new school teacher for Frenchman's Bluff. It hadn't been an easy decision to make ever since learning that the only reason the Kristofferson's adopted her was because they had been childless, in their 60's and were looking for an older girl to help Britta in the kitchen with chores and to be a comfort to them in their old age.After Felicia's mother died when she was a young girl and their father left them, she and her younger sister and older brother were placed in Dr. Clay's Asylum for Little Wanderers until they were each adopted and went their own separate ways. Now with the Kristofferson's deaths, Felicia is finally able to begin a path in her own life that doesn't have anyone telling her what to do. Her only desire is to pour forth her passion into teaching and forget all about love and romance.Colin Murphy, proprietor of Murphy's Mercantile in Frenchman's Bluff isn't looking forward to the towns new teacher. He was one of two that voted against hiring Felicia Kristofferson and instead wanted a man to come and teach. The past teachers had been more concerned with finding husbands that they were in the welfare of the children they were teaching. Now he finds just caring for his young daughter, Charity and running the store will keep him from ever searching for love again. His wife Margaret died at an early age of 26 when Charity was only 3, so she really never knew her mother, but Colin couldn't forget her. But will God have different plans for Colin and Felicia?In the novel Belonging by Robin Lee Hatcher, the reader is taken back to a simple time back in the 1800's and the story is here is one of belonging. For Felicia, it's trying to find not only her siblings that have been long separated through adoption, but also trying to find her own place in the world. For Colin, it's trying to find out what God's calling is in his own life, he faces being a single father that is often frowned upon by the wealthy Summerville family, who sees that Charity can use a mother's influence in her tom-boy like ways and they have the perfect person picked out for him, their own daughter, Kathleen, who also is widowed with two young girls.As the story builds, you can see the town's people coming together in a variety of different ways and even using Felicia's own experience being adopted to help two boys that are being adopted by the Carpenter family that are being difficult at trying to fit in as well. Through it all, God's love always comes shining through and soon the town will see that each person is needed to make a body complete. This novel is part of the Where The Heart Lives Series and one I received compliments of Zondervan Publishers and Net Galley for my honest opinion. I absolutely LOVED this one and rate it a happily ever after, 5 out of 5 stars.read more
Is this review helpful? Yes | NoThank you for your feedback.
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4.5 stars

I really liked this one! Felicia Kristoffersen was a really lovely character, and Colin Murphy was so great, although sorta... gruff... at times. Kid characters often run the risk of being annoying, but I really liked Colin's daughter, Charity. I also really liked Felicia's new friend Kathleen.

Felicia's past is painful, and she's finally able to get out into the world and do what she longs to do: teach. She is accepted for a position in a remote town in Idaho and is excited and nervous to teach, especially since she got her teachers' license almost 10 years ago and has no teaching experience yet!

Colin, a widower with a 9?-year-old daughter, Charity, owns the general store. He's illiterate, but realizes that education is the key to Charity having a better life with more opportunities than he had. He wants her to get the best education possible... and he doesn't think Miss Kristoffersen is a good choice for the town. She's just another single woman who will come to town, fall in love, and quit teaching after 6 months or so. He wanted a male teacher with a family... one who would provide the schoolchildren with stability. He and Mrs. Summerville (Kathleen's dead husband's mother) were the only two opposing votes on the school board.

Then there's Mrs. Summerville... she is VERY controlling... riches woman in town, etc., etc., etc. You know—the mean, old, rich biddy type. Anyway, she's decided that her daughter-in-law, Kathleen, who has been widowed for a couple of years now, should marry Colin, so Kathleen's been making herself "available"... and even though they both know it, neither of them is very interested in the other in that way. Mrs. Summerville's plan is threatened by a new young woman in town, and she goes out of her way to make things difficult for Felicia.

Anyway, soon Colin and Felicity are feeling that pull toward each other, but then Felicity "finds out" that Colin and Kathleen are "engaged" (according to GUESS WHO!), and so she's like, "Oh my gosh! She's my friend! I can't do that do her!"

Anyway, it was cute. It had a great message on not being a gossipy, rude, know-it-all jerk-face, like Mrs. Summerville, and about how you shouldn't judge others. :) I really liked it! The ending was SUPER cute!!!
Is this review helpful? Yes | NoThank you for your feedback.
Belonging (Where the Heart Lives #1) by Robin Lee HatcherPage Count: 277Release Date: 23 August 2011Publisher: ZondervanSource: Complimentary copy provided by publisher in exchange for an honest and unbiased review (thank you!!)Review: At ten, Felicia Brennan Kristofferson was orphaned; at twenty-six, she was orphaned for the second time. The deaths of her adoptive parents leaves her completely independent—save the malicious "cousin" who wants her to marry into the Kristofferson family to face the fate of inevitable domestic houselife—so the teaching job that brings her to Frenchman's Bluff, Idaho, is a haven—a godsend. The small, close-knit town welcomes Felicia with open arms, but there are a few who underestimate and actually disapprove of her position. Their suspicions are not without reason, however; the previous two schoolteachers each stayed less than one year each, before marrying off and ditching the children completely, so some parents are concerned she just may be taking advantage of the job, as the others did.Felicia's incredible dedication to her career, her students, and to God, however, proves that she only has one motive to be in Frenchman's Bluff, and that is to serve the Lord and the children. Her heart contains nothing pureness, and maybe a few nostalgic bruises; she is determined to take this fresh start and make it right. I was amazed at how well and how deeply her character is explored. All of the characters are remarkably well-developed, secondary characters included. I loved the good guys and hated the bad; Hatcher makes it very easy to tap into the minds of each cast member, from the main character, to the antagonist, which I know is not an easy feat in and of itself.The plot is tasteful and well-crafted, incorporating bits of Christian values smoothly. The storyline is not terribly exciting, but it's planned perfectly, and mighty clever. The development of Felicia's relationships with all the townspeople, as well as with Colin and Charity, is a real treat. While I did like how the inspirational messages weren't forced, I did feel sometimes the book was unreasonably preachy. Felicia silently prays or makes a plea to God at every ill thought and every remote turn in plan; not only is this slightly annoying, but it's also unnecessary. As a character, she's irritatingly sensitive; she tears up at every reminder of her past. I know it's sad, and I know she's a fragile woman, but that kind of behavior is girly (in a bad way) and weak. I would have liked to have seen more strength from Felicia—the kind of strength acquired over ten years, of overcoming the heartbreak of being torn apart from family at a young age. Colin's character is a bit more relatable; he too, has an upsetting past, but his safe, widowed, day-to-day life is his own way of recovery. His dedication to his daughter, especially, is incredibly real and hits close to home.Stylistically, Hatcher is a gem. Her words flow smoothly and beautifully. The procession of the story moves seamlessly; I didn't have to plod through it at all! One thing that did irk me was the curtness of the dialogue: lots of one-worded responses from not just one, but all of the characters. Maybe this was the norm in 1897, but to me, it just sounds unwelcoming. The deep probing of—the scars, fears, and secrets of—each of the characters' minds makes up for it, though. I really have no complaints on how Hatcher chose to portray her characters fully.I cannot confidently classify this as a romance novel. In the traditional sense, yes, it's a romance in that boy meets girl on the first page and boy gets girl by the last, but it's rather unorthodox. There is no attraction—in fact, there is unattraction—until about halfway throughout. Then small, totally non-sexual, tingly feelings rise in Colin and Felicia's stomachs whenever they see each other—more than a several times—and then they abruptly SPOILER get married and live happily ever after. I will say their relationship is complex, especially with Colin's initial reservations and Felicia's interaction with his young daughter, but it just didn't seem at all romantic to me. It bothered me that Colin's character is compromised when it is revealed that he never was in love with his wife. He loved her, of course, and is still grieving her death, but his marriage to her is described as "practical." I feel this is uncharacteristic and was only included so that his relationship could further with Felicia. Again, this makes the so-called romance unrealistic and a bit stilted. For a content advisory, there isn't one; the romance is 100% chaste (absolutely no sex, absolutely no physical interaction except at the end—in hindsight, this may be why I didn't enjoy it as much) because it sticks to traditional 19th century Christian values.The power of staying faithful to God and leading life with a pure, wholesome outlook prove to be the key to happiness in Belonging. Through Felicia, readers understand and rejoice because, no matter what troubles and turmoils arise, God always saves and protects. Accidents will occur, plans will be ruined, and people will try to get in the way, but in the end, maintaining a loving, kind heart is what makes individuals truly belong.Pros: Amazing character development // Easy, smooth flow to story; book moves and finishes quickly // Well-penned writing style // Colin and Felicia have a strong rapport, though not necessarily a romance // Strong morals on family and love // Believable situations and characters // Not too dense with historical information; fictional town and setting actually quite charmingCons: Slightly preachy in religious message // Felicia is pathetic at times // Romance is poorly developed // Dialogue sometimes unrealistic and lacks emotionLove: Kathleen could scarcely believe those words had come out of her mouth ... She must be losing her mind.Or perhaps she was beginning to find it.Verdict: Belonging is a clean, gorgeously-crafted Christian historical that encompasses an absence—and a discovery—of belonging, a passion for God, and a huge misunderstanding, or rather: several small misunderstandings that constitute for one conflict of fate. By demonstrating the importance of determination, dedication, and faith, Belonging conveys the almighty power of love—for God, for family, and for oneself through one woman's search for a place to belong. The religious undertone is strong, and the characterization, stronger; Hatcher has succeeded in telling an inspirational, absorbing, and completely feel-good story. 8 hearts: An engaging read; highly recommended.
Is this review helpful? Yes | NoThank you for your feedback.
As a girl, Felicia had asked God why her adoptive parents couldn't love her. Why had they taken her into their home if they hadn't really wanted her? She would never know the answer to that question, not in her lifetime anyway. But it was time to let go of the wound it had left on her heart. Now as Felicia Brennan Kristoffersen prepares to leave one life behind and begin another, she knows God will be by her side the whole way.Boise, Idaho - 1887Felicia's newest venture in life after leaving behind the life of caring for her adoptive parents, Britta and Lars Kristofferson who died hours within each other in their older years, is moving to Wyoming and taking on the job as the new school teacher for Frenchman's Bluff. It hadn't been an easy decision to make ever since learning that the only reason the Kristofferson's adopted her was because they had been childless, in their 60's and were looking for an older girl to help Britta in the kitchen with chores and to be a comfort to them in their old age.After Felicia's mother died when she was a young girl and their father left them, she and her younger sister and older brother were placed in Dr. Clay's Asylum for Little Wanderers until they were each adopted and went their own separate ways. Now with the Kristofferson's deaths, Felicia is finally able to begin a path in her own life that doesn't have anyone telling her what to do. Her only desire is to pour forth her passion into teaching and forget all about love and romance.Colin Murphy, proprietor of Murphy's Mercantile in Frenchman's Bluff isn't looking forward to the towns new teacher. He was one of two that voted against hiring Felicia Kristofferson and instead wanted a man to come and teach. The past teachers had been more concerned with finding husbands that they were in the welfare of the children they were teaching. Now he finds just caring for his young daughter, Charity and running the store will keep him from ever searching for love again. His wife Margaret died at an early age of 26 when Charity was only 3, so she really never knew her mother, but Colin couldn't forget her. But will God have different plans for Colin and Felicia?In the novel Belonging by Robin Lee Hatcher, the reader is taken back to a simple time back in the 1800's and the story is here is one of belonging. For Felicia, it's trying to find not only her siblings that have been long separated through adoption, but also trying to find her own place in the world. For Colin, it's trying to find out what God's calling is in his own life, he faces being a single father that is often frowned upon by the wealthy Summerville family, who sees that Charity can use a mother's influence in her tom-boy like ways and they have the perfect person picked out for him, their own daughter, Kathleen, who also is widowed with two young girls.As the story builds, you can see the town's people coming together in a variety of different ways and even using Felicia's own experience being adopted to help two boys that are being adopted by the Carpenter family that are being difficult at trying to fit in as well. Through it all, God's love always comes shining through and soon the town will see that each person is needed to make a body complete. This novel is part of the Where The Heart Lives Series and one I received compliments of Zondervan Publishers and Net Galley for my honest opinion. I absolutely LOVED this one and rate it a happily ever after, 5 out of 5 stars.
Is this review helpful? Yes | NoThank you for your feedback.
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