Kicker’s Journey by Lois Cloarec Hart is aptly named. This is a historical romance that follows the journey of Kicker Stuart from the English countryside to the Canadian wilderness with one goal in mind – to build a life with the woman she loves.
Kicker’s life is very simple. She works as a stable boy at the Grindleshire Academy for Young Ladies, and she has dreams of owning her own horse and farm. When the new teacher, Madelyn Bristow, arrives at the beginning of the school year, Kicker’s world is radically changed. She believes in the possibility of love and finding a life that is better than what she dreamed.
Madelyn’s love for Kicker runs deep, but she knows that staying in England is out of the question. Her father and the prejudices of English society will not allow it. Together they must flee the country and all they know for a chance at the freedom to live, and love, as they choose. It is a journey that will take them from the Old World to the New, and from one century into the next. Will they find the Eden they are searching for in this great big world? Or will the struggles and doubts cost them the chance to live out their most cherished dream – a life together?
Kicker and Madelyn are two characters that represent the separation of class in this time period. While there are the standard characteristics that each must embody, they also have individual, characteristics that make them unique.
Kicker Stuart is the epitome of lower class. She is a hard worker and is striving towards a goal of having her own farm. It’s not glamourous, but it’s hers. She is also a product of her environment at Grindleshire. The oppression she experiences from the teachers and students at the school makes her guarded and protective of her feelings. Despite her caution, there is a light within her that Hart is able to expose by highlighting her passion for work and family. It’s what Madelyn sees when she first meets Kicker, and it draws her to the young stable boy easily.
Madelyn has traits that one would find associated with upper class English society. But Madelyn’s heart is so lovely and uncharacteristic of women in this time period. She doesn’t discriminate or belittle others less fortunate than her, and she goes out of her way to be kind to everyone. This is seen in the way that she treats Kicker as her equal from the very beginning. You get a sense that she is caring and sensitive because she is a woman and she doesn’t have much in the way of rights. But she does have her compassion, which can be very empowering for her. She also has an impulsiveness that is exciting to watch unfold. This impulsiveness paired with Kicker’s more grounded demeanor gives the reader a great insight into their relationship dynamic and how it will benefit them greatly through the course of this journey.
While these two women are enjoyable to watch, Hart goes the extra mile and provides an amazing supporting cast to join them. The people they meet along the way are just as important as Kicker and Madelyn. They help shape the women from the young women they are at the beginning to the hard fighting pioneers they become. From old friends in England, to knew acquaintances in Canada, everyone in this story is imperative to making their dream into a reality.
The Writing Style
One thing you can always count on with a historical romance is the detail and accuracy that the author puts in the story. This one is no different, yet Hart does omit one aspect that I find very refreshing. There’s not a lot of over explanation. Hart allows the story to evolve and lets the relevant events play out naturally in the lives of Kicker and Madelyn, instead of giving an explanation to the reader beforehand. It’s very organic and the story is able to flow unhindered.
There is a great balance between the story and the history. Hart gives enough historical detail to absorb the reader into the world of these characters. Yet, she leaves a lot to the imagination so the reader doesn’t feel like they’re drowning in facts. It can be a difficult balance to maintain, and Hart pulls it off brilliantly.
This isn’t a con as much as a preparation for the reader. This story is epic in its telling and its length. So, reader be aware. If you’re looking for an afternoon light read on a lazy Sunday afternoon, do not start this story. However, if you are looking for something you can savor and sink your teeth into over the course of a week, then get lost in the world of Kicker and Madelyn.
Hart is an artist who uses beautiful, broad strokes to tell this story. The scenery and setting are described beautifully, and all the details for this time period are paid attention to with the passion of someone who loves telling it. It is very obvious that Hart has a deep love for her country and her characters. And writers who have passion for their stories should always be cherished and shared with others.
Excerpt from Kicker’s Journey by Lois Cloarec Hart
When the train pulled in, Kicker eyed the descending passengers and looked for a woman who had teacher stamped all over her. She readily disregarded the matrons returning from London, and the young mothers shepherding their noisy broods. Much to Kicker’s surprise, when Miss Madelyn Bristow stepped down onto the platform, she did not fit either Grindleshire stereotype.
The woman looked to be in her mid to late twenties, neatly dressed in a pale blue shirtwaist and ankle-length, navy blue skirt, which was gathered at her slim waist with a thin black belt. Beneath a wide-brimmed hat, copper coloured hair was pulled back in a twist, and bright, inquisitive green eyes assessed her surroundings. Before Kicker could approach, the woman spotted her and walked quickly toward the carriage.
Kicker jumped down from the seat to greet the new teacher, noting that the other woman had three or four inches on her in height.
“Yes. You’re from the Academy.”
It was not so much a question as a statement of fact, but Kicker nodded.
“Aye, Miss. D’you have a trunk, Miss?”
The teacher gestured over her shoulder where Kicker could see a porter hauling a large chest toward the carriage. She hastened to help him, and between them, they swung the trunk up on the back of the carriage. After tying it down, Kicker rushed to assist the teach into the buggy. She was surprised when Miss Bristow insisted on riding up front with her rather than in the more comfortable passenger seat behind.
As Kicker guided the horse away from the station and onto the road that led out of town, she stole a sideways glance at her passenger. This was no shy, awkward neophyte, nor a rigid, humourless old maid. At a loss as to how to categorize the new teacher, Kicker maintained her silence while Miss Bristow took in her surroundings with evident interest. She was startled when the other woman finally addressed her.
“You have the advantage of me, my dear. What is your name?”
“Kicker Stuart, Miss.”
She could feel the teacher’s stare boring into her, and felt herself colour under the intense scrutiny, but Kicker kept her eyes firmly on the road.
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Bits and Bobs
- ISBN number: 9783955330606
- Publisher: Ylva Publishing
Lois Cloarec Hart Online
- Website http://www.loiscloarechart.com/
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