The hottest new romantic suspense on my bookshelf is one that was written almost seventy years ago and you know what? It’s an absolute page turner. I refer to Mrs. Mike, by Benedict and Nancy Freedman. For those who haven’t read it, it’s the story of Kathy, a young Bostonian girl, who winds up marrying a Candian mountie and living in the middle of the remote Canadian wilderness. All I can say is WOW!
I’ve tried to determine exactly why this book lingers in my heart and mind. Is it the romance? Yes. The bond between Kathy and Mike is one that gives her the strength to leave her world, her culture and her weaknesses behind. It’s also the kind of love that triumphs over the adversity and hardship they both face in a savage land.
Is it the setting? You bet. I couldn’t in my wildest imaginings have come up with a place so cut off from civilization, so chock full of native peoples, white trappers and the odd displaced Frenchwoman. Every page brought a fascinating new challenge, some humorous, some heartbreaking, borne of this remote location. The amazing characters like Oh Be Joyful and Jonathan Forquet could only exist in such a fantastic setting.
Is it the plot? Absolutely. It’s part mystery. (Who really killed Cardinal?) Part suspense. (How are they going to survive the tensions between the natives and whites that constantly threatens to boil over?) It’s a tender story of family. (The diphtheria epidemic and the fire were completely mindblowing.) All of the elements are presented without over sentimentalizing or dropping into the predictable “romantic misunderstanding” or overdone plot devices so common to our genre. This book continually hints at one thing and delivers another with such soul satisfying emotion that the reader can only turn pages in wonder.
****I offer a side note here. In California it is a growing trend to refuse to immunize children for fear it might contribute to autism. I can only say after reading the diphtheria epidemic scene in Chapter Twenty Four, thank God for the gift of immunization!
I can’t imagine why it took me so long to stumble upon this worthy book. I hope it challenges me to craft a story of poignant relationships, extraordinary courage and most of all, the highs and lows of human nature.