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My Heart Belongs

My Heart Belongs in the Blue Ridge: Laurel's Dream

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Journey into the Blue Ridge Mountains of 1918 where Laurel McAdams endures the challenges of a hard life while dreaming things can eventually improve. But trouble arrives in the form of an outsider. Having failed his British father again, Jonathan Taylor joins is uncle's missionary endeavors as a teacher in a two-room schoolhouse. Laurel feels compelled to protect the tenderhearted teacher from the harsh realities of Appalachian life, even while his stories of life outside the mountains pull at Laurel's imagination. Faced with angry parents over teaching methods, Laurel's father's drunken rages, and bad news from England, will Jonathan leave and never return, or will he stay and let love bloom?

256 pages, Paperback

First published January 1, 2019

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About the author

Pepper D. Basham

30 books1,362 followers
Pepper D Basham has been telling tales ever since she was a little girl. When her grandmother called her a “writer” at the age of ten, Pepper took it as gospel and has enjoyed various types of writing styles ever since. A native of the Blue Ridge Mountains, mom of five, speech-language pathologist, and lover of chocolate, Pepper enjoys sprinkling her native Appalachian culture into her fiction wherever she can. She currently resides in the lovely mountains of Asheville, NC, where she works with kids who have special needs, searches for unique hats, and plots new ways to annoy her wonderful friends at her writing blog, The Writer’s Alley.

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167 (26%)
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Displaying 1 - 30 of 264 reviews
Profile Image for Karren  Sandercock .
740 reviews143 followers
January 22, 2022
Jonathan Taylor leaves England and joins his uncle Edward Anderson in the Blue Ridge Mountains of North Carolina, in America. His uncle has been like a second father to him, he doesn’t criticize him and he’s going to teach at his missionary school. Life in the Appalachian Mountains is harsh, Jonathan needs to help to build his small house before winter sets in and he can’t cook.

Laurel McAdams lives with her family in Blue Ridge, she works for Mrs. Cappy in her general store and dreams of going to teachers college. When she’s not working or helping her mother with chores, and Laurel can be found with her nose in a book. The McAdams family help the new school teacher, they invite him for supper and Laurel promises to give him some cooking lessons.

Jonathan is excited about his new job, he decorates his classroom, and discovers he has to be very careful about what he teaches. The mountain folk are very superstitious, set in their ways and showing the children a simple science experiment causes parents to complain. But, the flatlander teacher can see beauty surrounding him, the Appalachian people live a simple life, filled with joy, and are extremely loyal.

Laurel and Jonathan both have brothers fighting in The Great War, they share an interest in learning and reading. Sam McAdam is Laurel's father, as winter approaches he starts drinking moonshine and Jonathan’s shocked by his behavior. Jonathan's summoned back to England by his domineering father, Laurel’s worried that he will stay and he finds himself missing her and life in the mountains.

I received a copy of My Heart Belongs in the Blue Ridge: Laurel’s Dream from NetGalley and Barbour Publishing in exchange for an honest review and wow! Pepper D. Basham’s novel is based around life in the mountains, having a strong christian faith and the promise of a sweet romance. Five stars from me, I highly recommend this book and I look forward to reading others by Ms. Basham.
2,811 reviews1,728 followers
January 20, 2022
Second time just as good as the first!


"Dream, girl, but trust God to take better care of your dreams than you ever could." (p 139)

Sometimes you come across a book that defies description and this is one of them. I've been grappling with words that won't come because I don't think anything I say can do justice to the depth and breadth and overall bookiliciouness of My Heart Belongs in the Blue Ridge : Laurel's Dream.

I wish I had Laurel's 'lyrical phrasing' to help me. "She's always got the mullygrubs but down deep she's as soft as fresh biscuits." (p 113) But any attempts to wax poetic have fallen embarrassingly short so I'm not sharing them here! Just know that this is the kind of story you live through with all your senses. The kind that carries you away so completely that it's hard to pull out of. And, if someone or something does manage to haul you back to your sorry 21st century reality, you will be utterly discombobulated for awhile...in fact the disorientation will likely last until you can slip back to Basham's mountain setting again.

This is such a sublime read I can't even...head thunking on desk...I have no words!

Laurel charmed me -- she's bewitching and beguiling and exuberant and hopeful. Steadied by her faith and a mountain folk practicality that captivated me. And she loves books!!!! "If a book comes by, any book, I'm obliged to give it my attention." (p 72) How can you not love a heroine like that?!

And Jonathan is an intriguing mix of noble and broken and searching. He comes to this Appalachian community with an open heart and the desire to not only teach, but learn as well. And then the story unfolds -- only you forget it's a story -- you feel like you are living their lives right along with them and every day is an adventure and you're wrapped up in something so epic and elemental and true that it takes your breath away.

True fact: I'm all kinds of giddy after living Laurel's Dream right along with her that I'm all out of words. Just plum happy and basking in the literary afterglow.
Profile Image for Dawn.
Author 6 books797 followers
February 17, 2019
Wow. I’ve read a lot of Pepper’s books, and I always adore her writing style—but this one is my favorite to date! Satisfying from page one until the very last page. Sweet, lyrical writing, raw emotion described so perfectly... and some of the best orchestrated and well-placed kissing scenes. ❤️
Profile Image for Staci.
1,658 reviews507 followers
June 28, 2020
Sweet historical romance set in the Blue Ridge Mountains during WWI (1918). Laurel is pure heart and charm. Jonathan comes from England to serve as the mountain school's new teacher. He wants to be a doctor, but was released from the military due a physical impairment. Their chemistry and heart toward helping others was lovely.
Profile Image for Deanne Patterson.
1,772 reviews126 followers
February 3, 2019
This is the first book I've read by Pepper D. Basham. I know she has others out but haven't had a chance to read them yet. I aim to change that now that I've read this historical!
Taking place in Appalachia in the late 1910's where the mountain folk are poor but proud. Change does not come easy and is definitely not welcomed! This is why they are not welcoming to the new male school teacher, Jonathan Taylor. When Johnathon fails his English father once again he joins his uncle's missionary endeavors as a teacher in this rural area. Laurel is used to the harsh realities of life in the Blue Ridge but tries to shield " Teacher " from it. A drunken father for Laurel and unrelenting poverty for these mountain people make them protect their own and change in the form of a new school teacher and his new teaching ways is not welcome. When Johnathon is summoned back home to England will he leave the Blue Ridge and it's people behind for good or will change and romance have a chance to blossom like the flowers in the springtime?
Beautiful story that needs a sequel to answer unanswered questions. Can't wait to read more by this author.
Pub Date 01 Jan 2019
I was given a complimentary copy of this book from Barbour Publishing through NetGalley. Thank you. All opinions expressed are my own
Profile Image for Beth | Faithfully Bookish .
851 reviews178 followers
June 30, 2020
Full review on FaithfullyBookish.com

Much like the dreamy rolling peaks of the southern Appalachians, this story invites the heart and mind to meander and soak up the extraordinary beauty of every day. Laurel's Dream honors the legacy of a vibrant culture with the innocence of a coming of age tale, the universal appeal of family drama, and the irresistible draw of sweet romance.

Laurel's open, honest, and innocent personality is so refreshing in a world which seems to be increasingly jaded and cynical. Her joy and compassion shine all the brighter against a backdrop of poverty and occasional sorrow. Jonathan's privileged background lends a stark contrast to the material want and the strong community of Appalachia. His purposeful and respectful approach to a culture quite different from his own reveals his admirable integrity and intelligence. 

While I've highlighted some of my favorite positive attributes, this story has a hearty helping of hardships and each character possesses genuine flaws and raw authenticity. Faith, hope, love, and humor make this a story you'll want to share and enjoy again and again. This book is going straight to my all-time favorites shelf, I highly recommend it.

Update: I enjoyed rereading this with my mom! She's more of a nonfiction reader but she loves Basham's stories!

I received a complimentary copy of this book from the publisher and was under no obligation to post a review. The opinions expressed are my own.
Profile Image for Becky.
752 reviews38 followers
February 29, 2020
What a great romance! The slowly building attraction between Jonathan and Laurel, the kissing scenes, the winning of each others hearts ... it's practically perfection. I also enjoyed this look at life in Appalachia during World War I. It definitely had a bit of a Christy (the Catherine Marshall classic) feel to it in that regard. The problems in the community saddened me, but I know they were true to life, and I did appreciate that all of the problems didn't magically go away by the end of the novel.

While it did take me a while to get into the book, once I really got to know the characters, I couldn't put it down. This book is another excellent entry in Basham's catalog!

Disclosure of material connection: I received this book for review. I was not required to write a positive review, and the opinions expressed are my own.
Profile Image for Joleen.
2,005 reviews1,210 followers
January 3, 2022
September 1918
Maple Springs, NC

Laurel McAdams, 18-year-old, wanting to become a teacher
Jonathan Taylor, new teacher from England
Uncle Edward, Jonathan's uncle, missionary to Appalachia

I’ve said this in other reviews that as a California transplant to my beautiful state of Tennessee, I have completely fallen in love with all things Appalachia. So when I read anything about North Carolina, Tennessee or even Kentucky, my love for this area deepens. And now, Pepper Basham is quickly becoming a favorite author for me. I love her writing, I love her topics and I love that her stomping grounds are just over the hill from mine and that she loves this culture as much as I do.

World War I is the timeframe for this lovely story, a time when most young men are in war-torn Europe. Jonathan Taylor's leg injury left him unable to join with his brother, but to prove himself worthy of his family's pride he left England at the request of his missionary uncle to take a teaching position in a small Appalachian community.

This is where he first met Laurel, a young woman with aspirations of becoming a teacher herself. Their friendship taught him a great deal about this entirely different way of life among many superstitious and suspicious, poverty stricken hill folk, while at the same time learning to appreciate a simpler way of life in this breathtaking mountainous area.

I have to admit to learning a few things I hadn’t heard before, like rabbit gums. Oh, yes, rabbit gums. I had to look it up. And I giggled at some of the sayings from of the students and other residents.

I was saddened by Laurels family having to suffer from their father's severe symptoms of what I can only describe as seasonal affective disorder, something I also suffer, but no where near as bad as that! But it really added to an understanding of the fear, but also grace the family extends toward him in the hopes that their love will turn him toward Christ.

Oh, yes, the faith message in this wonderful book was so beautiful. Laurel, her mother, Jonathan and his uncle were stunning examples of lives touched by their savior.

What a good book!! I highly recommend it! And now I’m looking forward to the sequel to this book in July 2022 called The Heart of the Mountains.

Just an aside: I noted a number of editing errors in my Kindle version of this book. I might have the older version from 2019 when it was called My Heart Belongs in the Blue Ridge #1. I highlighted and reported them. It's possible the newer version has already caught these.
Profile Image for Rachelle Cobb.
Author 8 books285 followers
January 17, 2022
I love this sweet story! Reminds me of Christie. My only complaint is it wasn’t near long enough. I can’t wait for the sequel!
Profile Image for Rebecca.
1,816 reviews98 followers
May 30, 2022
4.5 stars

"Yep, kissing thoughts could give a coon dog competition for perseverance."

Kissing was about the last thing Laurel McAdams had on her mind at the moment. Getting the new lowlander teacher far, far, away from the lion's claws, mountain lion that is, immediately took precedence, even if the man was easy on the eyes. What in "tarnation" would bring a man like Jonathan Taylor to her Appalachian mountains?

"He didn't know why he was running, or from what . . . . . but he ran as if his very life depended on it." Maybe coming to these remote mountains and joining his uncle's mission hadn't been the smartest thing to do, but it sure was turning into an adventure; especially when his trail guide looked like an angel but talked with a back woods brogue that would take some getting used to. Could he really make a difference here or was this going to be another failure for his father to hold against him?

Journey deep into the Blue Ridge mountains where you will find the sweetest of stories; lives that are rich with family heritage, while pleasantly bereft of possessions; intelligence and wisdom shared for generations, gained far outside the pages of a textbook; and an abiding love that not only births dreams, but follows them.

"Love is not love which alters when its alteration finds, or bends with the remover to remove. Oh no! It is an ever fixed mark, that looks upon tempests and is not shaken . . . . " - Shakespeare
Profile Image for Lindsey (Books for Christian Girls).
1,554 reviews3,397 followers
July 30, 2020
My personal Rating- One Star

{ Due to heavy kisses, this book is receiving a one-star all-around rating. We really enjoyed the book up to those kisses and are sad to give it such a low rating.}
For the first half of this book, it felt like a 3 star.
Then a twist happened a bit later and it became a 4 star.
However, some pretty heavy kisses entered in and dropped the rating to a 1 star.
I’m sad now. ☹️
This is my first book by this author, so I decided to go into this book with no expectations and just a little hesitation. I really liked both Laurel and Jonathan, their thoughts, and how dedicated they each were to their callings/dreams. I completely did not see such a twist coming and I really enjoyed their thoughts about their dreams being changed. (Trying to be vague here for spoilers’ sake, but probably just sounding silly.) Obviously because this was a romance, you could see their attraction, but it wasn’t heavy/overwhelming (not a love at first sight, but a true friendship first which I loved). Then the twist and heavy kisses started with hints to wondering about more. Again, I repeat, I’m sad. I can understand a kiss or a handful here and there to a certain level, but it was some heavy kisses all at once and ruined most of my enjoyment of the story.

{{Official Content Review to Come.}}
Profile Image for Lisa  (Bookworm Lisa).
2,187 reviews170 followers
January 8, 2019
A culture shock awaits Jonathan Taylor as he enters the rustic small town set in the Appalachian Mountains. He has come seeking redemption from an overbearing father, not being "fit" to serve in WWI and the squashed dreams of becoming a Doctor. He needs to feel as if he is making a difference, somewhere.

Life turns out to be different than he expected. Instead of finding a society of "backward" people, he realizes that joy doesn't come from possessions, but how you live your life. The best example comes from a young woman he meets right away, Laurel McAdams. She has a sparkle in her eye and a smile on her face even though her father disappoints her and her family lives in a small cabin.

The lessons of joy, love, compassion, forgiveness, and understanding are priceless. I love the message that happiness doesn't come from circumstances but from joy and love and belief in God. Joy can be found in a shack.

I loved the description of the town, the beliefs of the townspeople, and a simpler way of life. This book is Christian fiction. It is clean with kissing.

Source: I requested a copy from Netgalley. Thanks to Barbour Books for accepting my request. All thoughts and opinions expressed are my own.
Profile Image for Loraine.
2,913 reviews
January 4, 2019
I absolutely loved this book. Basham brings every aspect of the Blue Ridge mountain people to life from their speech, to their many mountain wisdom gems ( I highlighted quite a few), to the taste, smell, and feel of the mountains themselves. By the time I finished I wanted to immediately book a trip to the Blue Ridge Mountains.

Basham's prose read like poetry and drew me into every page of the story. Laurel, the beautiful, young mountain woman who aspired to go to college to become a teacher, so she could return and teach her people; and Jonathan, the young English man, who left home to become a teacher in his uncle's mission school both faced family problems and were outstanding main characters. Their friendship deepened as each tried to help the other reach the goal they had in mind. The secondary characters filled the small mountain community and were so realistic with their strengths, weaknesses, caring, prejudices, and fear of being corrupted by the outside world. Great spiritual content wove its way throughout the story adding additional depth. Overall, a beautifully charming story.

When the book ended, I was sad to leave this wonderful cast of characters and was hollering in my mind sequel, sequel, sequel!!! It was nice to go back to the forward and see that Basham intends to some time write the story of two more of the characters in this story and that the story is based on her family history.
Profile Image for Joy.
240 reviews
January 17, 2022
Updated to add that the narrator did a fabulous job bringing Laurel to life!

Pepper Basham is the only author I know who can make the mountains come alive and leave me longing to travel back to the mountains where I grew up. Luckily for me, I was able to finish this book off while doing just that. I love when a setting is just as much a character in the story as the people populating it. Laurel and Jonathan both have incredibly sweet hearts. It's a heartfelt story full of hopes and dreams with beautiful truths throughout. There's also a bit of excitement here and there as Jonathan learns about cultural differences. Great story!
Profile Image for Courtney Clark.
559 reviews98 followers
January 7, 2019
Though mountain life might seem simple on the surface, it is anything but that for Laurel, her family, and her neighbors. While she dreams of an education and better opportunity for her own generation and beloved siblings, she grapples with a people and a culture dear to her yet challenging and wary of anything new.

Jonathan is the embodiment of such a challenge to her life. Through an unlikely friendship, he and Laurel learn just how similar their ambitions for betterment and common goals can help the community that ‘s increasingly dear to Jonathan. Through it all, a sweet romance becomes possible for them, if only her dreams and both of their family’s issues don’t stand in the way.

Pepper is known for writing a-ma-zing romances and relationships, and Laurel and Jonathan set the bar even higher. Theirs has the most tender and innocent friendship beginning ❤ of all of Pepper’s stories. (And I’ve read them all!!!) I think it’s the Britallachain combination of cultures paired with Pepper’s prose-like development of an enchanting setting that makes this story stand out.

Tender and sweet, Laurel’s Dream is an enlightening tale of family, hope, and ties of friendship that transcend culture. This story of camaraderie and romance is as breathtaking as an Appalachian autumn – and equally as colorful with its immersive setting and mountain folk. The sense of faith and understanding that God knows – and orchestrates – our dreams in ways we cannot imagine is a comfort as the last pages of this story are tied up with hope.

Many thanks to the author for the ARC review copy. This is my honest review.
63 reviews2 followers
October 10, 2018
The Blue Ridge Mountains seems to be far removed from from World War 1 when new school teacher Jonathan Taylor arrives from England to face the culture shock of living among the mountain people. Jonathan was a praying man. One of his first prays after his arrival was, “Dear Lord, please give me the strength to help make a difference.”

Laurel McAdams was certainly an unexpected ally. They shared a comradery that started with brothers serving in the war and a love of eduction. Laurel was lacking in formal education. Jonathan was lacking an education in the ways of the mountain people.

The journey through life in Maple Springs was an enlightening step back in time. To quote Laurel, “And there’s nothin’ quite like fallin’ into the world of a book.”

I agreed totally with Jonathan Taylor when he said, “I’m a huge proponent of reading. And I don’t know what I’d do without the imagination of books to take me places. They’re truly one of the under appreciated treasures in this world”

I appreciated the insights of Jonathan’s uncle, Preacher Anderson who said, “When we are powerless to exact change, we must trust in the One who holds the power. The ultimate power. And the One we know isn’t a tyrant king but a loving Father…”
“You were judged by what you did before tonight. You’ll be defined by what you do hereafter.”

I’m grateful for Granny Spencer’s inspiration for this book. I look forward to reading the rest of the story of Sam McAdams and Kizzie.

I received a free copy of this book from Barbour Publishing through NetGalley. These are my own thoughts and opinions except where quotes are given.
Profile Image for Emilee.
466 reviews88 followers
June 25, 2019
This is such a sweet romance. I loved the setting. The author did a fabulous job bringing it to life. I was absolutely drawn into the Blue Ridge Mountains. The sights, sounds and smells were penned beautifully. Laurel is a wonderful character. Teacher is too. I hated for it to end but the ending is lovely and very satisfying.
Profile Image for Dana Michael.
1,139 reviews89 followers
January 18, 2019
I loved it! This book was sweet, inspiring and romantic! Wonderful characters and story. I just wish this was a series!
*I was given a copy by the publisher. I was not under any obligation to leave a review. This is my honest opinion.
Profile Image for Morgan Giesbrecht.
Author 1 book48 followers
February 18, 2023
4.25 ⭐️

Ah, this was a sweet story!

Set in the Appalachian Mountains with all the flairs of rugged mountain living, this book reminded me of Catherine Marshall’s “Christy” in many ways.

Laurel was very sweet & I loved her thirst for knowledge and love for reading. Jonathan was the best. He’s a quiet & gentle man with a heart to serve and an aching desire to prove himself in the eyes of his father. Jonathan & Laurel’s friendship is precious, and blooms beautifully into a sweet romance.

The World War One era immediately caught my attention, and I found this different insight into the times fascinating.

There was plenty of heart & lots of laughs (I mean, Isom and the skunk? 😂). But this story also covered the heartbreaking effects of a father’s drunkenness on a family.

All in all, a beautiful story I would happily read again!

Content notes: *some spoilers*

some passionate kissing between a married couple; shotgun wedding because an injured unmarried woman spends the night at a bachelor’s cabin unchaperoned during of a bad storm—nothing happens but rumours started; mentions of another unmarried girl becoming pregnant & being sent away from her family in shame
Profile Image for (Katie) Paperbacks.
418 reviews89 followers
December 22, 2022
This book was definitely 5 stars for me. I loved the characters, the setting and the romance.

This book had one of the best kissing scenes I have ever read. So sweet and romantic. I will definitely be reading more books by Pepper Basham in the future.

Jonathan seeks to escape his father and life in London for the wild land of the Blue Ridge mountains to become a teacher. What he doesn't expect is a pole cat, cougars and a strong willed, kind and lovely girl to match his wits with.

This was a sweet historical fiction that I didn't want to end, if Pepper wrote a book for every year of the characters lives, I would be OK with that.
Profile Image for Lori.
1,664 reviews70 followers
February 17, 2019
This book reminds me of The Waltons and how the family and their neighbors were close during the depression living in the Blue Ridge Mountains. Mountain folk stick together. I guess they'd rather shoot you first and then ask questions later like they did Teacher.
I love Pepper's books. I love them because she ads humor. And did I ever laugh outright!! I even snickered some especially when Teacher got broke in real good lol!

I almost had something similar happen to me about 7 years ago.
was on my way to work when it happened plus I was half asleep because it was still very early!! When I realized what it was I ran!!
Laurel and Teacher are my favorite people in the story. Laurel because of her friendly personality and willingness to help a stranger out when most folks won't.
Teacher because of his willingness to teach the mountain children and his bravery for doing so! Teacher has a heart of gold in my book! I think his father was wrong and that father's should love their children all the time not just whenever it suits them. Johnathan needed to go his own way and find his own happiness and I believe he did just that!
Pepper this is one of your best books yet! Even though I borrowed this from the library I still want to ad it to my collection of favorite books I hope that we will read more about Laurel and Johnathan in the near future
Profile Image for sydney.
392 reviews87 followers
July 8, 2021
I always enjoy reading books set in an area I'm familiar with - mostly because my travel diary is limited to the Carolina's and Disney World. I've spent nearly every summer for the past 15 years in the Blue Ridge Mountains, so it was neat to visit the area in different way than what I'll probably every get to. I really enjoyed this story. The faith aspect was super natural and flowed easily. None of it felt forced which is always a big plus. The characters were quite colorful and added some interesting conflicts and little subplots to the story, and the romance was really sweet. Basham's writing reminds me a little bit of Janette Oke; slow, simple, without being boring. I did feel like some of the more intense moments lacked... intensity, but otherwise it was good. I honestly would have enjoyed the book without all the hullabaloo. Overall, cute story and sweet characters.
I look forward to reading more from Pepper in the future!
Profile Image for Kailey.
604 reviews67 followers
January 19, 2022
I really enjoyed this one! I thought that the narrator did a great job!

I was given a free review copy of the audiobook and have voluntarily left this review. The thoughts and opinions expressed are mine alone.
Profile Image for Paula White.
493 reviews9 followers
June 19, 2019
I loved this book. I loved the setting, the characters, the story. I hope there’s a sequel.
Profile Image for Susan Snodgrass.
2,001 reviews189 followers
November 29, 2018
'I can't hardly get one dream to come true. It'd seem greedy to hope for two.'

This book just filled my heart all the way up till the goodness overflowed. Pepper Basham has just outdone herself here.

Jonathan Taylor has come from England to teach in a one room school in 1918 Appalachia. Boy, is he unprepared for what he finds. He longs to be of some use to these children, but long held family belief systems and superstition nearly break his heart. He can't go back home because his stern father doesn't think he can make a go of it there or anywhere.

Laurel McAdams has taken it on herself to help the new teacher. Laurel has long dreamed of going to college to become a teacher herself. Her dreams might come true, but then maybe not. Surely God wouldn't take her dream away, would He? She wants it so badly.

Everything about this book touched my heart. The wonderful patterns of speech of these people was dear to my heart because I've heard my grandparents speak this way and sometimes my mother did also. Their hearts and their acceptance of the hardships of mountain living was amazing. I felt like I just fell into the book and knew everyone. Laurel and Jonathan were two characters that I will remember for a very long time. This is definitely a book that is destined to be read again! Basham's prose is woven with love throughout each page and I adored it.

*My thanks to the publisher for a copy of this book via Net Galley. The opinions stated here are entirely my own.
Profile Image for Kate.
1,472 reviews43 followers
July 15, 2022
I really liked Laurel and Jonathan from the get-go, Laurel especially. She was so kind, yet fun-loving. And you could tell that her faith in God was the most important thing to her.
I really liked Laurel and Jonathan together, as well. There was just something about their easy acquaintance turning to a warm friendship that just put me in mind of the way some of my favourite real-life love stories played out (including my own!).
There was just enough tension and humour to make me really want what was best for Jonathan and Laurel, even when things seemed bleakest.
4.5 stars
Profile Image for Heather Wood.
Author 5 books136 followers
August 21, 2022
Pepper's Appalachian historicals are my favorite of her books. She strikes the perfect blend of showing the beauty of the Appalachian culture without brushing over or ignoring the hard and not-so-good parts. The faith woven through was beautifully inspiring. Laurel and Jonathan were both such good characters and I really loved this book.
I laughed, I cried, it moved me, Bob.
Profile Image for Jennifer Hunt.
Author 6 books46 followers
January 11, 2022
This was my last read of 2021, and it was SO good. It was the perfect read for a gray, depressing, post-holiday week—in large part because Laurel remained so hopeful though her circumstances were not promising. You know those characters that you think, “I want to be more like that”? Well, Laurel is one of those. She stayed joyful, loving, and always hoping for God to change the stubborn people around her, even when it was long in coming. I’m so excited this sweet story has a sequel coming out this year.
Profile Image for Karen R.
589 reviews68 followers
October 15, 2018
A wonderful story full of life and love! A glimpse into the Appalachian culture of a small community at the end of WW1, with a conflict all its own. When a young man from England comes to teach school at the mission led by his uncle, ill feelings are stirred up among the stern mountain men and the 'flatlander' who wants to improve their lives, and open their eyes to the outside world.

“Dream, girl, but trust God to take better care of your dreams than you ever could.”

This book started out well, and just got better and better as it went. It had me smiling and chuckling one moment, and holding my breath the next. I loved the way the author kept things light in parts with humor, quirky people and funny colloquialisms, cleverly working in the serious issues, adding biblical wisdom via conversations between characters. Laurel's mom and Jonathan's uncle especially were founts of lovely encouraging quotes, as well as Laurel herself. The spiritual themes included learning to trust God, looking to him for guidance and approval instead of others, and loving people to Christ, forgiving and letting go of anger. The difficult problems of alcoholism, unwed mothers, ignorance and prejudice added a serious side to the plot. It seemed to be implied that alcoholics were something to be tolerated, which may have been the case in that culture at that time; sadly though, the families suffer.

I loved the resolution of this book and how the romance developed from a healthy friendship. The romance is a wowzer when it happens, so be patient and be prepared to sigh. It will steal your breath away! I seriously didn't want this book to end. It was interesting to read the author's introduction that said her own family's history inspired some of the story, and there may be another book at some point. Yay! A few of the characters could definitely have their own book.

Highly recommend this book to Christian historical romance fans! If you enjoyed Christy by Catherine Marshall, Wonderland Creek by Lynn Austin, or These Healing Hills by Ann Gabhart, you will love this one too.

(An e-book was provided by Barbour Publishing via NetGalley. All opinions expressed are my own.)
Profile Image for Susan.
520 reviews55 followers
October 21, 2018
Somehow Pepper Bashum continues to raise the bar with this lovely story of a British teacher who travels to a remote mountain community of North Carolina hoping to make a difference. Bashum shares her love for the Appalachian people as she describes their strengths and weaknesses. The eclectic cast of mountain folk is as colorful as the autumn color in the mountains described so eloquently through Bashum's beautiful prose. The laugh-out-loud humor Bashum fans have come to expect are interlaced with sweet romantic moments that are memorable. In Jonathan and Laurel, the author gives us two young people who each have a dream that can be altered by unexpected tragedy. But not only do they have a burden for the people of Maple Springs, they also have a tender heart for God's gentle prodding. I fell in love with several characters in the book and hope to visit the fictional world of Maple Springs again in the future.

Fans of Catherine Marshall's Christy will love this book. With an obvious love for the mountain folk, great attention to historical detail, a sweet romance, then add some of Bashum's sweet humor and Appalachian ability of storytelling and you cannot go wrong. This book is one to be read again and again.

A few of my favorite quotes:

"They'll be stubborn, curious,eager,suspicious, and a whole host of other things, but beneath it all are hearts who desire to learn and create. To grow and find joy. A people who love their families with a ferocity that is breathtaking, hold music close to their souls, and survive unspeakable odds without complaint."

"Regret don't do nothin' but steal your joy and cloud your eyes from seein' the blessings."

"...your hands are only meant to carry today. They ain't big enough for yesterday or tomorrow. Only God's hands are big enough. We can dream and imagine, but grasping hold of tomorrow as if we know what goes on there, well, that can lead to a heap of heartache or a whole lot of pride."

All quotes are taken from My Heart Belongs in the Blue Ridge: LAurel's Dream by Pepper D. Bashum.

I voluntarily reviewed a complimentary copy of this book from Netgalley and the author/publisher. I was not required to write a review. All opinions expressed are my own.
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