By Cathy Marie Hake, Bethany House, $14.99, 336 pages

10Serendipity can be a series of happenings that lead one to a happier place. Or maybe even a state of mind. Surely, when Todd Valmer of Gooding, Texas took his seriously ill mother off the train in Carver’s Holler, Arkansas, to look for a doctor, he had no clue he’d find a wife. On the other hand, Margaret Rose wasn’t wanting a husband. ‘Magpie’ as she was known to all because of her affinity for collecting things — and people — had no intention of ever leaving her rustic home, and the old men for whom she cared. She was content to follow her mother’s tradition of growing roses, from which she made soap and lotion that once used, were unforgettable.

When Todd and his mother returned to Texas a few days later, Magpie went with them as his wife. None of them could possibly have anticipated the problems and joys they’d encounter in the coming months. But love, faith and prayer brought them through the various storms that life offers.

Serendipity – in this case, the title of this inspirational historical romance – illuminates a world we may not know much about. Rural Southern America in 1893 was not yet past the remnants of the Civil War, and the struggle of those who lived close to nature while trying to build a home and a life is an eye-opener.

Reviewed by Kelly Ferjutz