Review These days I don't seem to read many 5-star books. This one changed that track record.
Hidden Places is an odd title for this book. I'm sure there's more significance in it than I care to delve into, but not enough to make me remember the title. But I will never forget this story. All anyone has to do is mention Aunt Batty and it will all come flooding back.
This is a different book from typical Historical Romances. The writing is much more like it's written by a seasoned writer with a unique ability... a true ability to put a story together in a memorable way. Oh, Ms. Austin can write.
Another thing different about this book for me is the main character, Eliza was not a favorite for me. In fact I kept thinking I'm not sure I'd like her if I knew her. She often got mad and flew off at the handle. She often didn't seem capable of being calm and finding out how to view something without anger.
But as the story goes on, you will see why.
Seems everyone is this story had huge hurdles to get over. Eliza for the way she was raised... twice... once by her mother and later by her father. A very odd childhood I don't want to give away.
Gabe, her love interest also had a childhood that was sad.
Aunt Batty (hands down the best character) had an overbearing father who decided for her what she should do. But ended up having the richest life of them all because of circumstances that God brought into her life. Wise and fun. That's Aunt Batty.
Lydia was Batty's sister, who she loved unconditionally. Lydia made one of the most unexpected sacrifices Batty (then Betsy) could ever believe.
We get background during conversations, but the real background of each character is when each one's story is told, like mini separate books... but it always comes back to the main story after a while. All are fascinating... all endear you to them.
Eliza wants to be loved, and find a home and be normal. She finds it in a little town she drops herself into. She needs to keep her past to herself and just be normal. But with this normal life comes father-in-law from hell (Frank). One of the most miserable people you will ever care to know. We never really know why he's so miserable... but we sure do get the stories of all the people he affected in this miserable life. Some survive and come out better, some don't fair so well.
But anyone who gets to know Batty (Frank's sister-in-law)is better for having known her...except Frank who hated everyone. Sweet woman who enters Eliza's life just when she needed her.
Then along comes Gabe, a hobo who needed a wound tended. Eliza helps him to heal and he stays on at her orchard to pay her back.
The rest is history.
Great book I can unreservedly recommend.