Saturday, August 29, 2020

Review: "A Life Once Dreamed" by Rachel Fordham

Second chance romances are some of my favorites, plus I've been eager to read a book by Rachel Fordham, so I jumped at the chance to review A Life Once Dreamed.

Six years ago, a shocking secret sent Agnes Pratt running in search of a new start. She found it in Penance, a rugged town of miners and lumberjacks in the Dakota Territory, where she became Miss Aggie, respected schoolteacher and confirmed old maid. But the past has a way of catching up with people.

When childhood friend and former sweetheart James Harris accepts a position as the town doctor, Aggie's pleasantly predictable days suddenly become anything but. James wants to know why Agnes left behind the life they had dreamed of creating for themselves--but he is the one person who can never know.

In the shadows of the Black Hills, can a healing light be shed on the past? Or will the secret Agnes can't seem to outrun destroy her chance at happiness?

Fan-favorite Rachel Fordham brings to life the dusty streets of an 1880s frontier town in this story that affirms where you come from matters far less than where you're going.

A Life Once Dreamed starts out wonderfully with some great humor (thanks to a precocious child) and an intriguing premise: Six years after fleeing Buffalo for the Dakota Territory with a terrible secret, Agnes is stunned to learn that her first love James is the town's new doctor.

I enjoyed watching Agnes and James become reacquainted, but I couldn't help but feel that Agnes didn't give him enough credit. Fleeing as an 18-year-old in an effort to protect James was one thing, but refusing to share her secret when he turned up in Penance—clearly because of her—was totally different. As an adult who had already walked away from the life his parents wanted for him, he was clearly his own man and deserved the opportunity to decide for himself if Agnes's secret was one he could see beyond. I ended up thinking that Agnes was pretty lucky that James loved her so much!

I also was a little frustrated that Agnes's secret remained a secret from the reader for so long. I was able to piece things together, but would have like to know why she fled Buffalo much sooner in the novel.

The middle section of the book seemed to drag on a bit for me, and I found my interest waning. Things certainly picked up in the last third of the book, though, and at that point, I began flying through the pages.

My favorite character was Sam, a potential rival for Agnes's affection. Steady and kind, he had his heart broken by the woman he planned to marry, and he was a wonderful friend to Agnes. I sincerely hope Fordham writes his love story soon!

Overall, this was an enjoyable story, though I didn't find it gripping. Fans of historical romance will want to give it a look. 3 stars.

Buy the book (affiliate link).

Rachel Fordham has long been fascinated by all things historical or in the words of her children “old stuff”. Often the historical trivia she discovers is woven into her children's bedtime tales. Despite her love for good stories she didn’t attempt writing a novel until her husband challenged her to do so (and now she’s so glad he did). Since that time she’s often been found typing or researching while her youngest child naps or frantically writing plot twists while she waits in the school pick-up line. In addition to her passion for storytelling she enjoys reading, being outdoors and seeing new places. Rachel lives with her husband and children on an island in Washington state.

Learn more about current projects at

Disclosure of Material Connection: I received this book free from Revell through the Revell Reads program. I was not required to write a positive review. The opinions I have expressed are my own. Also, some of the links in this post are affiliate links. This means if you click on the link and purchase an item, I will receive an affiliate commission. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission's 16 CFR, Part 255: "Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising."

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