Far Above Rubies, book 2 of the Uncharted Beginnings series
Keely Brooke Keith
c. Feb 2017
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About the Book
It’s 1863, and schoolteacher Olivia Owens believes education should be a top priority in the newly established settlement of Good Springs. Between planning lessons and helping out on her family’s homestead, Olivia doesn’t have time for Gabriel McIntosh’s charming advances. When the council denies her request to build a schoolhouse, Olivia must challenge their ruling and teach private lessons—all while hiding frequent bouts of word blindness (dyslexia). If the council knew the new teacher couldn’t always read, they wouldn’t allow Olivia to teach anymore. As a carpenter, Gabe McIntosh is working hard to help build the settlement of Good Springs, and once his land is granted, he begins constructing his own house. When Olivia discovers he plans to share it with her, she guards her heart from him. But Gabe is determined to win her affection and figure out what she’s hiding.
Oddly different from American settlements moving westward, this New England community shipwrecked on a very forgiving land prides itself in a strange mix of self-containment and communal resourcing. Two years after the hazardous sea journey, families have built themselves a village with the bare necessities of housing, gathering/worship center and are beginning to expand their agricultural and trade. Communal school for the children takes a distant backseat. So does medical science and the desire to experiment with properties of the gray leaf of their new home, even when Olivia pointed out its unusual properties in the first book. The first death touches everyone. A member of the society flouts agreed-upon regulations while another in the family loses touch with reality that results in the first trial. The author offers readers a picture of a community struggling to hold together, much less survive.
Keith has developed a good grasp of internal and external conflict. Her focus character in this story about the Land, is Olivia Owens, whose mother was a teacher in their home. Olivia wants to follow in her mother’s footsteps but self-doubt and the unusual reluctance of the members of the new settlement to provide regular education to their children hold her back. A strange and peculiar affliction challenges Olivia to work twice as hard at her chosen profession to the detriment of keeping her place in society and risking her future with Gabe McIntosh, a friend who has loved her from afar.
Although I studied the condition and taught dyslexic students, I never heard of it coming and going as Olivia experienced, though I could accept it might happen. The settlers who moved across our continent often built a school either before or at the same time as their house of worship and put education foremost. In this story, Olivia heeded her experienced mother’s advice to teach necessary lessons, though she still struggled to prove herself and the practice of communal education.
Told from Olivia’s point of view, this second story of survival in a new land focuses on developing society with all the intrigue, hand-holding, gossip, judgments, and growing romance. Those who enjoy pioneering stories will like Far Above Rubies.
About the Author
Keely Brooke Keith writes inspirational frontier-style fiction with a slight Sci-Fi twist, including The Land Uncharted (Shelf Unbound Notable Romance 2015) and Aboard Providence (2017 INSPY Awards Longlist). Keely also creates resources for writers such as The Writer’s Book Launch Guide and The Writer’s Character Journal. Born in St. Joseph, Missouri, Keely grew up in a family that frequently relocated. By graduation, she lived in 8 states and attended 14 schools. When she isn’t writing, Keely enjoys playing bass guitar, preparing homeschool lessons, and collecting antique textbooks. Keely, her husband, and their daughter live on a hilltop south of Nashville, Tennessee.