Tuesday, July 4, 2017

Heart on the Line

Heart on the Line
Ladies of Harper's Station #2
Karen Witmeyer
(Bethany House Publishers)
ISBN: 9780764212826
June 2017/336 pages/$15.99

When Danger Arrives, It's More Than Just Her Heart on the Line

Grace Mallory is tired of hiding. She hungers for a normal life, perhaps even a suitor like two of her friends in Harper's Station have found. But when the man she believes responsible for her father's death discovers her whereabouts, survival takes priority.

Amos Bledsoe prefers bicycles to horses and private conversations over the telegraph wire to social gatherings with young ladies who see him as nothing more than an oddity. His fellow telegrapher, the mysterious Miss G, has been the ideal companion. For months, their friendship--dare he believe, courtship?--over the wire has fed his hope that he has finally found the woman God intends for him. However, when he intercepts an ominous message and discovers her life is in peril, Amos must shed the cocoon of his quiet nature to become the hero Grace requires.

Read an excerpt.


Winner of the HOLT Medallion and the Carol Award and a finalist for the RITA and Christy Award, bestselling author Karen Witemeyer writes historical romance to give the world more happily-ever-afters. Karen makes her home in Texas, with her husband and three children. Learn more about Karen and her books at www.karenwitemeyer.com.


Karen Witemeyer is one of my favorite authors, and not just because she's here in the Lone Star State! Heart on the Line is an absolute delight and among my favorites of hers. What a great premise: two telegraph operators who become friends through dashes and dots, the precursor to today's internet romances! And I love that the hero isn't a swashbuckling hero but a more diminutive - dare I say nerdy? - fellow who prefers brains over brawn. Add in the setting of the "No Men Allowed" Harper's Station (well, except for the Sheriff) plus encroaching danger, and the result is an engaging story that is impossible to set aside! Witemeyer weaves amusing moments among the tense, and I alternately chuckled and held my breath. Don't miss Heart on the Line, and grab the first book, No Other Will Do while you're at it!

Disclosure of Material Connection: I received a copy of this book free from Baker/Bethany House for a blog tour. I was not required to write a positive review. The opinions I have expressed are my own. 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.”


1. Amos Bledsoe is not your usual Western hero, preferring bicycles to horses and depending on brains rather than brawn to win the day. What inspired you to create such a quirky, atypical hero?

I love rugged, alpha-male heroes, but they tend to dominate the romance genre. I wanted to switch things up a bit and remind readers that sweet, caring guys can be swoon-worthy too. Maybe it ties in to the fact that my own hero in real life is a bike-riding computer nerd. His passionate love for me and our family, his devotion to God, his kind demeanor, and his dry sense of humor make him my ideal man. So when I started crafting Amos, I followed the same pattern. As a telegraph operator, Amos is a nineteenth-century technology nerd. He’s smart, kind, funny, and sacrifices himself for those he loves without regret. A true hero in every sense of the word.

2. In Heart on the Line, Grace and Amos strike up a friendship over the telegraph line that turns romantic, a situation eerily reflective of today’s online dating culture. Was it your intention to parrot the modern world in your historical story?

No. When I started crafting Grace and Amos’s story, I just wanted to tell a fun historical romance appropriate for the late 1800s. Yet as I wrote, I recognized the similarities to online dating in our contemporary world. It reminded me of the movie You’ve Got Mail, where two rivals secretly fall in love via email. Or the older movie version, The Shop Around the Corner, where Jimmy Stewart unknowing courts a female coworker through heartfelt letters. The same questions arise in this 1890s telegraph scenario. Can Amos trust that Grace is the sweet young woman she hinted at being, or is she a middle-aged harridan with five kids having a laugh at the na├»ve telegrapher’s expense? Is he the gentleman he seems, or is he a malicious stalker? Then there’s the awkward first face-to-face meeting. It opens space for humor, for misunderstandings, and best of all, it creates room for true love to cut through the superficial level of physical attraction to the hearts of the people involved.

3. What inspired this story of telegraph love?

The inspiration for Heart on the Line came way back in 2011 when I was doing research on telegraph communication for another book. I stumbled upon a novel written in 1879 by female telegraph operator Ella Cheever Thayer, called Wired Love.

Apparently many operators were women in the late nineteenth century, and they were often identified as such by the delicacy of their “sounding” on the wires. The hero in Miss Thayer’s novel, Clem Stanwood, knows right away that the operator at the “B m” station is female.

Nattie Rogers is intrigued by the mysterious “C” at the “X n” station and seeks out conversations that soon turn flirtatious. These two telegraph operators fall in love over the wire without ever laying eyes on one another.

There is one scene about halfway through the book that served as my inspiration for Heart on the Line. A case of mistaken identity has scared Nattie off, but Mr. Stanwood arranges a visit to her boardinghouse, and while sitting amongst others in the parlor, he begins tapping out code with his pencil against a marble tabletop. Nattie recognizes her call name, takes up a pair of scissors, and drums out her answer. They carry on an entire conversation this way with no one else in the parlor suspecting their actions are anything more than idle tapping. Until, that is, Mr. Stanwood reveals himself to be the real “C.”

Nattie jumps to her feet and exclaims aloud, “What do you mean? It cannot be possible!” Hysterical!

Of course, everyone else in the room thinks she’s lost her mind, except the hero, who crosses the room to take her hand. Aww…

In Heart on the Line, I had a great deal of fun creating situations where my two telegraph operators communicated through coded tapping without anyone else being able to understand the significance of their private conversations. It just goes to show that you never know when a random research trail will lead to the perfect plot for a new book.

4. Will we see more stories about the ladies of Harper’s Station in the future?

Yes, there will be one more story to finish off this series. The final installment will be a novella that features the young Irishwoman Claire Nevin, who came to Harper’s Station as a runaway mail-order bride. Claire has been apprenticing with the local midwife and learning the healing arts, which allows her to play a significant role in the secondary plotline for Heart on the Line. However, it’s not until her past thrusts itself back into her life in The Love Knot that she finds emotional healing for the broken heart that has plagued her for too long. Claire’s story will appear in the collection entitled Hearts Entwined coming in January.

Many thanks to Karen Witemeyer and Bethany House Publishers for providing this Q&A!


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