Six years after the only man she ever loved left and broke her heart, Jenny Bennett is simply existing in her job as a civilian nurse for the Army. But when she happens to run into Ryan Gallagher and his daughter on base, it stirs up mixed emotions in her.
Ryan never intended to leave Jenny behind when he went to Japan, but his duty and commitment to his country forced him to make a heart rending decision. He never forgot Jenny, but expected her to move on. When he finally meets Jenny again, he yearns for her forgiveness if not her acceptance.
When Ryan requires Jenny’s help in preparing his replacement they are forced to work and live together in a remote area. Ryan’s position with the government requires absolute secrecy which is a problem for a woman who longs for security and stability. But if Ryan succeeds in his plan, he will be able to remain in America and hopefully win Jenny back.
Since her first release, Elizabeth Camden has been one of my favorite authors of historical fiction. So, it’s no surprise that her books are always on my auto-buy list. I couldn’t wait to read To the Farthest Shores.
Ryan and Jenny’s story is a complicated one of unwilling betrayal and heartbreak. I was able to sympathize with both of their points of view while at the same time being frustrated with each of them for some of their choices. Ryan is an unlikely hero. Unlike many romantic leads, he is not an alpha male. He is much less assertive, displaying more reserve and patience than most. His upbringing as a missionary child in the Japanese culture exacerbates the qualities which give Jenny qualms about trusting him.
But Ryan is the perfect foil for Jenny, an orphan raised on the streets. Jenny is a fighter, but her past leaves her with a need for structure and security. Ryan’s past decisions have broken her trust which is the biggest hindrance in repairing their relationship. Not to mention, Ryan’s young bi-racial daughter is a constant reminder of his infidelity. She is more than justified in her caution concerning Ryan, but it also leaves her unable to see how much she is loved.
I appreciate how Camden weaves in little known historical events and details to transport her readers to a different time, while also educating them. To the Farthest Shores is no exception. Not only did I learn about the little known Philippine-American war but also about a former military base, the Presidio, located near San Francisco.
One of the more fascinating aspects of this book is the history of pearl farming, a pursuit which Ryan is passionate about. His zeal for creating the perfect cultured pearl infected not only Jenny but myself. I learned more about pearls than I ever thought to know.
To the Farthest Shores is another excellently written novel by Elizabeth Camden. If you like historical fiction with strong, but imperfect characters, then this is a story you will not only enjoy but learn from.