★★★★★ The course of true love never did run smooth, but in the sweetly romantic lives of Welsh violin player Nicholas Keating and his American wife, Rachel, at least their troubles have a lovely soundtrack. Bridget McGowan’s Heartstrings, the third book in the Nicholas Keating Stories, follows the lovebirds after their fairytale wedding to (and after!) the birth of their first child. Through miscarriage and despair, Nicholas, Rachel, and their families all learn to love and grow together, no matter the circumstances.
This novel is an absolute delight. With a story stretching from Cardiff to America, Heartstrings is just the ticket for a weary heart to read. Don’t worry if you haven’t read the previous two books in the series—the engaging, slice-of-life tale McGowan weaves is as easy to get drawn into as a warm bath. All of the characters are fully fleshed out, their motivations and hopes and dreams so realistic you can almost touch them. As the narrator of the story, Nicholas is obviously the best drawn, but everyone—especially Rachel and his sister, Jean—are fully realized, wholly intriguing people. It’s a joy to live in this world and walk through Nicholas and Rachel’s lives. The dialogue is realistic and quick, and McGowan writes the story in a relaxed (but never slow) pace. The gorgeous story stretches languidly through the years, but it’s impossible to tire of the characters or their lives. Between the tears and the laughter, you’ll be hooked into Nicholas Keating’s world of love, music, and family—and it’ll be tough to leave.