Sunday, March 15, 2015

The Cheney Duvall Series by Lynn Morris

The Stars for a Light:

New Doctor Cheney Duvall has agreed to be the doctor to Mercer’s Belle’s, a group of women travelling to Seattle to become wives to men out west. Shiloh Irons is her big and burley male nurse. Cheney has found it hard to find a job since being a female doctor in the 1800’s is frowned upon. Mercer’s Belles seems to be the perfect opportunity for her. The two month journey proves to be filled with many trials and triumphs for the new doctor. Battling sea-sickness, disease and destruction Cheney grows in confidence as a doctor and also grows in her faith in the One who holds both life and death in the palm of His hand.

I have read the Cheney Duvall series several times through the years. I love these books and enjoy each time I re-read them. Cheney’s ability as a doctor is impressive in the time period and Shiloh’s ability to calm her and assist her is sweet and also humorous. I love this first book where the reader is introduced to both Cheney and Shiloh. Shiloh’s sense of humor makes the reader laugh out loud at some of his antics. Cheney is head-strong yet insecure at the same time which can be exasperating as well as endearing. She has a generous heart, but she also has a naivety about the world around her. Together Cheney and Shiloh make the perfect doctor/nurse team. Yes, there is an attraction between the two that gets a bit steamy a few times during the story but the reader is going to have to wait for any resolution in that relationship. 

 Shadow of the Mountains:

Cheney and Shiloh go to Arkansas so Cheney can help her friend Sharon who is pregnant. The mountain people don’t take kindly to a female doctor. Their “harb” woman is good enough for them. The mountain people are also caught up in their feuding between two families. Cheney and Shiloh drift apart as Shiloh becomes attached to Maeva, the woman that uses herbs and other homeopathic remedies to doctor the people. Tempers run hot as the feud picks up momentum fueled by greedy men determined to buy up the land. 

Shadow of the Mountains reminds me of a Hatfields and McCoy’s kind of story. Two families that hate each other over a long ago wrong that was supposedly committed by one or the other. It is sad what ignorance and bitterness can do throughout generations. Shadow of the Mountains is my least favorite of the series because Shiloh is so taken with Maeva. It seemed random, his attachment to her. He doesn’t even understand it. And Maeva herself is a mystery that almost seems like the mountain people worship. I also didn’t like her gloating and making Cheney feel insecure. I do however like seeing the progression of Cheney’s faith as she grows in the Lord through each hardship. 

 A City Not Forsaken:

Cheney and Shiloh are back home in New York. Cheney wants to forget everything that happened in Arkansas. She and Shiloh have a strained relationship at the moment. All Cheney wants to do is open her own practice with Dev and treat all of the “nice” people of society. She refuses to go to the cholera hospital to help there. But Cheney does agree to help with research and maybe find what causes cholera. While cholera rages around the city Shiloh is trying to protect the woman who raised him and the orphanage full of children that she heads by entering into boxing matches to raise money to better the orphanage. Also introduced in this book is Jeremy Blue “rat-killer” and Victoria de Lancie, a rich young widow. With cholera raging around the city and the mortality rate being about half of all those who get it, Cheney is most careful in her research. What she doesn’t count on is Jeremy Blue’s enthusiasm for killing rats.

This is one of my favorite Cheney books! I love seeing Dev get some emotion to him. I enjoy reading the unlikely friendship that grows between Cheney and Victoria and of course Cheney’s continued growth and reliance on the Lord is wonderful to read. We learn more about Shiloh’s background as he tries to help one of the women that raised him care for her orphanage.  

 Toward the Sunrising:

Cheney and Shiloh are off to South Carolina to find out more about Shiloh’s past. Charleston is where Shiloh was left at an orphanage as a baby. Another of the Behring sisters still runs the orphanage that Shiloh grew up in. In the midst of reconstruction after the Civil War Charleston is a hotbed of tempers and prejudices. Cheney and Shiloh meet Shadrach Forrest Luxton the younger brother to Nathan Bedford Forrest. Shadrach and his two cadet friends from the Citadel end up in a lot of trouble and Nathan Bedford Forrest makes an appearance. Oh my, what an appearance he makes! 

I really enjoyed this installment of the Cheney Duvall series. I love the southern charm even in the midst of reconstruction. It is nice to read about men respecting women, and honoring and protecting them. Also in this book Cheney and Shiloh are more comfortable with each other and seem to be leaving what happened in Arkansas behind them. I enjoyed the light-hearted moments of Shiloh and Cheney lunching with Shadrach and company, shooting and enjoying a day away from all cares. I also am seeing that Cheney is maturing more and more in her walk with the Lord. Being a woman regardless of being a doctor she was not allowed to visit the veteran’s hospital, but seeing her handle the situation gracefully and humbly shows her maturing in faith. Definitely another of my favorites in this series.

 Secret Place of Thunder:

Shiloh and Cheney travel to Louisiana to help Cheney’s great aunts try to figure out what illness is befalling some of the sharecroppers on their indigo plantation. They are joined by Cheney’s parents and Victoria and Gowan Ford who is the aunts overseer. 

While at the aunts they are confronted with the evil of the voodoo. The high priestess and her followers are trying to run the aunts off of the plantation by casting spells and spreading fear among the inhabitants of Les Chattes Bleaues.

One of the things I like about the ereader edition of these books is that in the introduction to each book the author gives some background into the research and writing process of the story. While Secret Place of Thunder does delve into evil spirits and people being guided by those spirits the ultimate victory is found in Jesus Christ. So while the subject is dark and evil seems to be winning in some instances I loved how each person that had relationship with the Father above experienced some form of victory in their life. One of my favorite parts of the story was Richard going through Ephesians 6 step by step to encourage Gowan and Dev to clothe themselves in the armor of God. 

Once again Cheney and Shiloh’s relationship is strained. There is a definite attraction between the two, but Cheney knows that she could never act on those feelings because of Shiloh’s lack of a relationship with Jesus Christ. I do get a bit frustrated with this relationship for sure. As educated as Cheney seems to be, she has also been sheltered so I find that some of her behavior is more childish than her age and experience should reflect. Dev and Victoria have an attraction but Dev is committed to Cheney(from book one), so that relationship is also strained. We’ll see how it all plays out in the next installment…

 In The Twilight, In The Evening:

Cheney and Shiloh go to San Francisco in this installment. Cheney is to be a doctor in a private hospital and Shiloh to be a head nurse in the same hospital. Cheney is faced with many obstacles while working the overnight shift. Being a female doctor in a male dominated field Cheney is used to dealing with prejudices against her chosen field. But when Cheney allows her ego and pride to take control of her life she may risk losing Shiloh.

Shiloh finds one more piece of his past. He can’t understand what is going on with Cheney and why she is behaving the way she is. Cheney is confused about her feelings for Shiloh. She knows that they cannot have a more romantic relationship because of Shiloh’s unbelief, yet she also doesn’t want any other woman to have him.

This installment wasn’t my favorite, but as it reveals one more part of Shiloh’s past it is a necessary part of the series. I think we all go through times and seasons in our life where we forget that we need to rely on the Savior. Our attempts to rely on self come crashing around us after a while just like they did for Cheney.  Thankfully Cheney comes to her senses by the end of the book and we are left once more with Shiloh and Cheney’s relationship up in the air and potential for yet another opportunity to travel in search of Shiloh’s past.

 Island of the Innocent:

Cheney and Walker follow Shiloh to Hawaii. While in Hawaii they meet the Winslow family. The Winslow’s run a shipping company and raise all different kinds of crops that they ship all around the world. Shiloh went to Hawaii on one of the Winslow’s ships. Working off the cost of his travel expenses while sailing to Hawaii Shiloh has agree to Bain’s suggestion of fighting in a Hawaiian style fight against one of the biggest men Shiloh has ever seen. This fight will not be a boxing match, this is a no holds barred match that could very well kill Shiloh. That is what Bain is counting on. 

Arriving in Hawaii Shiloh finds work on one of the Winslow plantations. When Walker and Cheney arrive they go to meet Denise Winslow and her daughter Brynn. Walker and Brynn have an immediate attraction for each other but Denise has no time or patience with any of the newcomers. She has secrets to keep about Shiloh’s past and she will do anything in her power to get Shiloh, Cheney and Walker off of the Island. 

Of course wherever Shiloh and Cheney go there is always adventure. This time around they encounter a volcano. When Bain takes off and Denise refuses to leave they put many lives in danger. Will this be the last adventure that Cheney and Shiloh will ever face together? And will Shiloh finally find out the full story of his parents and who he really is?

I love this book in the series! But once again, Shiloh and Cheney’s relationship is left unsettled. They both make life or death decisions in the course of trying to save many lives. Several of the characters in the book are extremely unlikeable. I especially wanted to reach through the pages and slap the snot out of Denise Winslow. She is an evil woman! For all of her haughty behavior to Shiloh, Walker and Cheney she is a harridan when all chaos breaks loose! I think this installment had to be the most exciting for Cheney and Shiloh. More jungle to traipse through, add to that fire and water and earthquakes and the peril is intense. Add to that selfish people determined to get their own way ahead of others and you end up with a pretty fantastic read! 

 Driven with the Wind:

The last book in the Cheney Duvall books, although there is also a 3 book series called The Inheritance series that features Cheney and Shiloh after they marry. 

So yeah, before they get married there is a lot of stuff that goes on in Driven With the Wind. Shiloh asks Cheney to marry him, but of course Cheney has to say, “No” because Shiloh does not share Cheney’s faith. It is heart-breaking for both of them. They are back in New York for Dev and Victoria’s wedding and are constantly thrown together. It is uncomfortable for both of them, plus Shiloh has become bitter. In his bitterness he is making poor choices. He’s drinking, gambling and has taken up with Minette York, a popular actress. 

Bain Winslow is also in the picture but Shiloh and Cheney don’t know it yet. He is determined to make Shiloh suffer for taking his place in the family business.
Dev and Victoria also have their problems. Dev’s past comes back to haunt him and in an effort to protect Victoria he calls off the wedding. Dev underestimates Victoria’s strength though and of course all works out in the end. 

I always have mixed emotions when I read this book. Seeing Shiloh in self-destruct mode is kind of depressing and frustrating. I love Cheney’s strength throughout. And of course when Shiloh finally sees his need for a Savior there is much relief. Getting to that point though is kind of rough for all parties. And just because Shiloh is saved doesn’t mean his problems immediately go away. He still has to find Bain and still figure out how to care for his Aunt. These are only his first steps in maturing in relationship with his Lord. 

As mentioned above there are 3 other books that carry on with Cheney and Shiloh. They are called The Inheritance series. Currently only book 2 is offered in ebook format. Thankfully I have them in paperback because it looks like they are hard to come by currently. 

I loved reading through this series once again. I now have 8 of them on my Kindle and hope that the last 3 will eventually make it to Kindle. I'll be passing on my original copies to a great aunt of mine who also shares my love for reading. 


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