River's Song (The Inn at Shining Waters series) by Melody Carlson.
It took me a while to get into River's Song because of all the background material presented in the first five chapters, Once the actual story begins, however, it’s an easy read and a delightful, historical romance.
In the beginning chapters, the author provides a lot of background to Anna's past - how her mother-in-law, Eunice, objected to her son, Adam, marrying a "squaw," as well as how Eunice treated Anna while they lived with her during Adam’s illness and the 10 years after Adam died. Anna becomes nothing more than a housekeeper for Eunice, who spoils Anna’s daughter, Lauren, and encourages her to disrespect her mother’s Native American heritage.
Personally, I would rather this background information were dispersed a bit more throughout the book rather than all up front. It made it harder to get into the book. If I had seen it at a bookstore, I probably wouldn’t have bought it. However, I’m glad I pushed through the first few chapters because it was a really good book!
The present-day story begins with Anna going to the funeral of her mother, Marion. After the funeral, Anna goes to the family home to clean and sell it. Along the way, she meets Hazel Chenowith, an anthropologist who studies Indian history. After showing Hazel some of her woven baskets, the family dugout canoe, and the writings of her Father, Hazel asks if she can transcribe them. A new relationship forms between them, and Anna decides to stay longer. Hazel encourages Anna to turn the family property into an Inn, and introduces her to her son, Clark, the hero and romantic interest of the story.
River’s Song is a story of healing and new beginnings. Once I got into the book, I loved it!
Warning: I was extremely upset when I got to the end because there were still some loose ends. However, after thumbing through the discussion questions that followed, I discovered an excerpt from Book 2 of the series. What a relief! Now, I'm looking forward to the next book in the series so I can find out what happens next!
If you like historical romances, you'll love this book. If you want an action-packed, quick-get-to-the-plot story, you might have some trouble. But I encourage you to wait it out. It's worth it!