Divided Hearts by Terry O’Reilly

 Divided Hearts by Terry O’Reilly


When Jonathan and Nathaniel part ways, Nathaniel heads for the Ohio territory and a new life with Robert. Robert soon realizes his friend will never reciprocate his love fully. What can he do? Robert agrees to help the English translate in their negotiations with the Shawnee and in doing so meets Red Horse. Now there are two men living with Divided Hearts.




In this sequel to Awakening, any fans that wanted to see a happy ending certainly will be happy as all loose ends are tied rather neatly within this story. Even with the focus on Robert’s story and his path to happiness and love, Jonathan and Nathaniel’s relationship is given an ending as well. While the story is certainly engrossing and heavily romantic, the odd contemporary story that is told simultaneously is jarring, out of place, and unsettling. The combined effect takes away from the main thrust of the story and lessens the impact of what should be a strong and enticing historical.

The story as told from Robert’s point of view focuses on his relationship with Nathaniel since they arrived in Ohio and the years that past. These years are told in summary and briefly in memories more to catch the reader up to the time the events are now occurring. After a brief summary of what Nathaniel and Robert have been up to, Robert is sent out as an interpreter to the Shawnee and ends up living with them for some time. However, he cannot freely commit his heart to a new man and life while part of him longs for his first love Nathaniel. The timeline jumps around frequently, which can be confusing, as the events jump from present day to memories to past time. However, once the timeline settles down and focuses on the events happening once Robert is with the Shawnee, the story picks up and is rather engrossing at points.

The level of detail given to the historical aspects as well as the Shawnee tribe add to the depth and interest in the story, even if those details are subtly included. The prose and writing tends to be somewhat more formal and fitting within the time period and setting of the story, which lent emotion to the phrasing and characters. Unfortunately none of the characters were fully explored as they all came across as two-dimensional and without great depths of emotion. Each man was easily accepting of just about every circumstance from Robert’s long time patience with Nathaniel to Daniel’s easy acceptance of new parents, and even Robert’s sudden realization that he loved Red Horse. Each of these solutions felt simplistic and without intensity, leaving the characters as manipulated figures within a heavily romantic story.

The title of the book “Divided Hearts” is meant to symbolize the division of both Nathaniel and Robert’s hearts as they struggle with their feelings for each other and the other men in their lives. While Nathaniel turning to Robert was understandable given Jonathan’s statement and choice to get married and raise a family, Robert’s lingering attachment to Nathaniel felt artificial and weak. Considering the lack of affection Nathaniel ultimately showed Robert, Robert’s continued denial of his commitment to Red Horse felt flat and untrue. Even with both men happily committed at the end of the story, this resolution felt obvious and long in coming.

Part of this problem was due to the simultaneous story of the author Terry and his husband Drew that had inserted scenes in between the historical scenes of Robert, Nathaniel, Daniel, Red Horse and so on. These scenes of Terry and Drew were contemporary and focused on both their relationship and the justification of the story. The men would talk about the character development, the romance aspects, justifications for choices within the story, and finally explaining how the reader should understand and read the story. Each time these scenes appeared it would jar the reader out of the context, setting, tone, and feeling of the story only to thrust them into the present day with yet another couple.

While the scenes with Terry and Drew were romantic, sweet, and interesting in their own right, the author should have simply written two books and kept the storylines separate as the blending of the contemporary story with the historical was to the detriment of both relationships. The jumping between settings and couples keeps the reader from emotionally connecting with any character as just when the story is engrossing and interesting, the setting changes yet again. Furthermore, the explanation of the story to the reader was an annoying and distracting device. Even going so far as to acknowledge doing so with the comment made by Terry in the final scene of the book:

“Now Robert feels he can have that love with Red Horse. I didn’t want to spell that out too much, leaving something for the reader to figure out. But maybe I should let them in on that more in the final scene?”

Unfortunately statements like this have actually done exactly that, spelled out how the author wanted the reader to understand the story, ending, and characters. This sort of obvious manipulation was troublesome and definitely took away from the enjoyment of what otherwise could have been a rather solid historical romance. While others may not be bothered by this tactic and therefore enjoy the dual story lines, hopefully the author will not repeat this in the future. I think romance fans can understand the story without being told exactly how. 

Get it HERE!


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