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Journey now to Castle Gate, Utah of 1910 where...
Forbidden Love Tries to Survive Old World Expectations
Schoolteacher Leanna McKee plans on leaving the coal mining town of Castle Gate, Utah, and never looking back. Good riddance to coal dust, rugged men, and the fatal mine that took her husband’s life.
Until the widow meets a widower who awakens her heart...and she finds herself inexplicably falling for miner Alex Pappas which stirs up a whole heap of trouble.
Alex’s Greek parents have arranged a more traditional match for him. When the schoolteacher’s association with the Greek family begins to anger the American miners, they threaten Alex and his family. Leanna has received an offer to teach elsewhere and feels she has no choice but to leave Castle Gate. . .though she will be leaving her heart behind.
More from My Heart Belongs in Series...
My Heart Belongs in Fort Bliss: Priscilla's Reveille by Erica Vetsch (January 2017)
My Heart Belongs in the Superstition Mountains: Carmella's Quandary by Susan Page Davis (March 2017)
My Heart Belongs in Ruby City, Idaho: Rebecca's Plight by Susanne Dietze (May 2017)
My Heart Belongs on Mackinac Island: Maude's Mooring by Carrie Fancett Pagels (July 2017)
My Heart Belongs in the Shenandoah Valley: Lily's Dilemma by Andrea Boeshaar (September 2017)
About the Author
Angie Dicken is a third generation Greek American, the granddaughter of strong men and women who endured hardship to grow American roots. My Heart Belongs In Castle Gate, Utah is set near the birthplace of her grandfather, a Greek coal miner's son, and published 100 years after his birth. Angie is a contributor to The Writer's Alley blog and an ACFW member since 2010. She lives with her husband and four children in the Midwest where she enjoys exploring eclectic new restaurants and chatting with friends over coffee.
Read an Excerpt
Castle Gate, Utah, 1910
Leanna McKee pushed her hat by its brim, hiding her face as best she could. She would not let him see her. His large clumsy shadow had warned her as she approached the corner of the coffeehouse porch. She rushed to the other side of the road, so far over that her skirt skimmed the weeds. His gargling laugh tempted her to slip into the brush and weave through the scrubby trees, avoiding that Greek crook altogether.
"Pretty lady?" His thick accent tumbled across the afternoon air, and his shadow inched closer as she passed by. "I wonder where Meester McKee is, pretty lady?"
Leanna quickened her pace. No, she would not give this man any satisfaction in answering his question. If he had cared at all, he would have known what happened to Jack. The Greek man, with his slippery speech and beady eyes, could follow her home and beat down her door. She'd still not share one word.
"Excuse me, Meesus McKee ..." He called from behind her now.
Maybe he would follow her home.
Her stomach soured at the thought, even amid the delicious waft of savory smoke pouring from the nearby restaurant's outdoor oven. As she turned up the path to her neighborhood, she stole a glance over her shoulder.
Good. The sloppy man had returned to the porch, scratching his balding head and staring at his pocket watch.
Leanna was certain what must be done now.
It was her only choice, no matter the consequences that might arise. After all, she had not chosen any of this. Besides the greedy Greek man harassing her on the streets of Castle Gate, she was surrounded by the filth of coal dust and grumbling, uncivilized miners. Unfortunately, though, her husband had become one of them.
But he was gone now.
She hurried into her home and hung up her hat and coat. Jack's empty chair snagged her attention, taunting her as she pulled out parchment and ink. She would not grow angry again. Her temper had brought nothing but regret.
The pen drank up the ink and her hand shook as the nib hovered over the paper. Were her parents truly the only way to a future without hunger and want? Would they ever take back the debutante who'd thrown away all her inheritance for the love of a common workingman?
Perhaps they would. Under certain conditions. There was a time when she'd have considered her parents' stifling expectations even worse than her lowly teaching position or the mining company's grocery store with inflated prices and limited supplies.
Yet she did not belong here. The belly of Carbon County, Utah, was the very last place she'd wanted to live.
"Must I return to Boston, though?" she spoke aloud, resting the pen on the ink bottle's edge. The desperate question was answered by a forceful knock at the door. Leanna's heart plummeted to her stomach, her arm hair stood against her cotton sleeves. Dusk's dimming light bled through the threadbare curtains. Who was there at this hour? Had the nosy man truly followed her? He had appeared to be harmless, aggravating beyond words, but harmless just the same. She'd welcome him over the dreaded visitors that intruded her imagination during these lonely days.
Her nerves frenzied, just as they had each time she'd caught a gawking miner staring in her direction. Would they dare prey on a new widow? She was concerned most by immigrant miners whose wives were left behind in their homeland, thousands of miles away.
Another, less forceful, knock startled her to her feet. A small whimper slipped from her lips. "Lord, protect me." She snatched the iron poker beside her coal stove and crept across the kitchen.
This was exactly why she needed to leave this place. There was nothing left for her. Just trouble.
"Who is it?" She threw her demand toward the bolted door.
"It's Alex Pappas." The deep cordial voice rumbled like the sound of breaking rain on a thirsty garden. Relief washed over her tense muscles. Alex was the one man who'd tried to save her husband in the mine accident.
He was not a threat, as far as she could tell. He was Jack's friend.
Leanna leaned the fire poker against the wall, straightened her woolen skirt, then slid the bolt and opened the door.
Alex's chocolate eyes brightened with his kind smile, even in the dull afternoon. Before her gaze lingered too long, she noticed his nephew and niece, Teddy and Maria, waiting at the edge of the path.
"Good evening, Mrs. McKee," Alex said in perfect English. He pulled his hat off, releasing thick ebony curls across his brow. "I am sorry to bother you so late."
She straightened her spine trying to appear unaffected, even if she welcomed the friendly company. Perhaps loneliness had crippled her good sense. Jack's absence this past month was more detrimental than she'd thought. Before Castle Gate, she would have been lost without him. But now? After all she'd found out?
Leanna cleared her throat. "What can I do for you?"
"A favor, if you please." He gave a nervous chuckle then glanced at the children.
"Favor?" Leanna half whispered. Her eyes searched the neighbor's near-identical house to hers. What would anyone think of this Greek man asking an American woman for a favor? "Mr. Pappas, I don't know what you mean."
"Well, it is more of a business proposition than favor," he said, shifting his weight. "You see, my sister-in-law is expecting and she has taken a turn for the worse. Now, she is restricted from walking. My brother and I have to work early in the mines," his voice lowered while he fiddled with his hat. "Perhaps, we can leave the children in your care before school begins?"
A protest formed on the tip of her tongue, but she only stared at him with wide eyes.
He licked his lips and began to explain further. "My parents must tend to the restaurant, and the children's mother, Penelope, does not trust the children to walk themselves to school. She fears gypsies might steal them."
"Gypsies?" She'd never heard of such a thing.
"Ena, dio, tria ..." Maria and Teddy held hands and hopped across the path. The dark-haired boy fell to his knees and whimpered. His sister helped him up.
They were sweet children — for Greeks anyway. Of all her students, the Pappas children were at least the most tolerable, even if they forgot to use their English at times. They had women, the only two Greek women in their town, tending to them each day. Both children were always scrubbed free of lice and smelled of freshly washed clothes. The young boys who came over with their uncles and fathers were quite different. If they didn't take positions as water boys at the mine, they tumbled into school in a thick layer of filth.
"Mrs. McKee, we will pay you." Alex wrung his hat in his hands. Coal dust blackened the bed of his fingernails, just as it had Jack's. How often had she complained to her husband to scrub his nails better? He never ignored her, but it became a useless task. She scrunched her nose as the usual shame spread through her gut. Perhaps, she wasn't so different from her parents. Civility was ingrained in her breeding to a fault — an added bitterness those last days of marriage.
What kind of person would she become if she returned to life under her mother's scrutiny?
"Your offer is interesting to me." Leanna clasped her hands and brought them up to her chin. "How long will you need me?"
"Until Penelope has the baby. A few months, maybe?" Alex shrugged his shoulders. "Here. This is how much we'd like to offer you." He pulled out a piece of paper.
The number was fair enough. Actually, plenty to cover her train ticket and meals. But she'd hardly eat if her final destination was Boston.
Her thoughts swirled in a brew. "There's little for me in this coal town."
"I understand." Alex nodded, a crease between his eyebrows marked him with compassion. She nearly smiled in gratitude for his kindness. "Will you go to San Francisco? Jack said you were hoping to be there by summer."
"Jack told you that?" She bit her bottom lip. Her eyes ached with the effort to dam her emotion. "That has been my dream all along, before ..." Jack gambled it away. But she wouldn't share that with Alex. Her bitterness toward Jack while he was alive haunted her with remorse. She couldn't speak ill of him now in his death. Even if it were true that his vices had slashed her dream — and her heart.
Alex brought up a plan that had been smothered by her misery. But now? A grin appeared against her will.
"San Francisco is a fine idea," she said. Just speaking the name of the city out loud seemed to brighten the dreary valley all around her. Her heart quickened. Just a few weeks of helping the Pappas family and she might save enough to make the trip. All on her own. She'd owe nothing to her parents, and she could still teach — in a finer school than Castle Gate could provide — under her cousin in California.
Alex narrowed his eyes and hooked his thumb on his suspender. "I am glad to spark your memory," he said. "And that smile." He offered a dazzling smile of his own. A rush of heat met Leanna's cheeks. She was trapped by his gaze, gold flecks dancing in his umber eyes. Only a high-pitched squeal from the children released his hold. The six-year- old, Teddy, sprinted to a cluster of trees.
Alex took long strides down the knoll. "What did you find?" Leanna followed, careful to stay a decent distance from the Greek man. Once again, she looked around for any onlookers.
"Ghata!" Teddy scrambled into the shrubs then stood up cradling the Coffey's tabby cat.
"Say cat, Teddy," she said, trying to make the visit more about teaching than the moment that had just passed between her and Alex.
Teddy copied her English, and Alex tousled his hair.
"We must return home before dark," Alex said. "Will you accept my offer?"
"I will, Mr. Pappas." She held out her hand, and they shook. Leanna prayed that the butterflies in her stomach had everything to do with San Francisco and nothing to do with his firm embrace of her fingers. "I will meet you at the corner by your parents' restaurant in the morning." Leanna silently scolded her girlish reactions to Mr. Pappas. He was Greek, after all.
"Good evening, Mrs. McKee," her neighbor, Mr. Coffey, called out from his porch. "What's he doing here?" His sharp stare pointed at Alex.
"Ah, Mr. Coffey. He is the uncle of two of my students." She cut through the sparse grass. "I believe Teddy has found your cat." She reached out to the boy and gently pushed him toward Mr. Coffey. He was reluctant to hand the cat over, but her neighbor plucked the cat from his arms by the scruff of its neck.
"Is that what brings them to these parts?" He referred to them as if they were already gone, not standing a few feet away. She bristled. He was rude and arrogant, no matter if it was an acceptable attitude around here. "My cat doesn't go as far as Greek Town." He glared at Alex.
Alex's face was cold as stone, and he barely moved his lips as he spoke. "We were not here for your cat —"
"They were here because I am their teacher." Leanna wanted to end this ridiculous interrogation. "I have arranged to care for the children before and after school." She held her head high, then turned to Alex. He confirmed what she'd said with a nod.
Mr. Coffey grunted and flung the cat onto his front porch. The cat screeched, landing on its feet and arching its back.
"Ghata!" Teddy cried out. Leanna grabbed him before he ran out of reach.
"Cat, Teddy," she snapped then spun on her heel still holding on to him. "Be sure you two are ready by eight o'clock tomorrow." She reached her hand out to Maria, and the ten-year-old girl took it.
The scowling man retreated to his door.
"Good night, Mr. Coffey," Leanna called out as she walked away with a child on each side of her.
Alex's darkly dressed eyes glinted with admiration. Her overactive cheeks began to heat again. She begged them to remain a cool shade of ivory. No man should have such an effect on her. Especially a Greek man who treaded dangerously close to hostile territory by her neighbor's obvious calculations.
Alex ran a hand through his black curls then put his hat on. He spoke Greek softly to the children. With a tip of his hat in her direction, he led the children toward town. "Thank you, Mrs. McKee."
Leanna rushed inside, eager to discard the letter to her parents and revive an old dream — teaching in San Francisco. Who would have thought such a chance would appear when life was at its lowest?
Gratitude filled her heart. She peeked out her window just as the tall, handsome Greek disappeared down her walk. One day soon she'd leave, never to return. Thanks to Alex Pappas, she'd finally found a way out of Castle Gate after all.
Alex arrived at the mine the next morning, trailing behind Leanna's neighbor. Besides the sour memory of Turks threatening life in his homeland eight years ago, Mr. Coffey was a pesky weed in his family's effort to grow American roots.
Yanni rushed toward Alex with their helmets tucked beneath his arms. "I see I am too late to help with the children."
"Yes, Brother. Don't worry," Alex said. "How is Penelope?"
"She's the same, resting with her feet up. Did Mrs. McKee arrive this morning?"
"Yes, the children are on their way to school now," Alex said quietly, even though they spoke Greek. Mr. Coffey had looked their way more than once since Yanni arrived. "That Coffey was not happy to see me in his neighborhood."
"He had a whole team of men hollering the other day." His brother shook his head. "Don't understand their words."
"Perhaps you should learn English alongside your children, Brother?" Alex had harassed him about this since he joined him in America. The Pappas family was here to stay, unlike the many Greeks who leeched off the land of opportunity. "Now that I understand their language, men like Coffey are more careful around me, even if they still hate us."
"Perhaps." Yanni rolled his deep brown eyes then handed Alex a helmet. "But we have to deal with Anthis now." He nodded toward the Greek labor agent who was gabbing at the water station with a new arrival. He patted his pocket then the man's shoulder.
"Quick, let's get to work before he sees us," Alex whispered, but the large man was already plodding toward them.
"Ah, just who I was looking for, the Pappas brothers." With arms wide, Anthis met up with them.
Alex shoved past the labor agent. "We can't talk now, Anthis. It's time to work."
"It's a funny thing, that." Anthis wiped his forehead with a handkerchief. "On one hand, you mustn't neglect the mine, but on the other, you won't have a mine to work if your fees are tardy." He rubbed his thick fingers together.
"Now?" Alex gritted his teeth. He had been wrong about Coffey and the Turks being his only nuisances. This man was just as much of a weed, and a stubborn one at that. "You come for fees now?"
"You should thank me. I save you a trip to Salt Lake City, eh?" Anthis said.
Alex motioned to Yanni to continue gathering their equipment. He then faced the agent, nose nearly touching nose, only to get a whiff of soured feta on his breath.
"I don't carry my wages in my pocket like a fool," Alex sneered. He was a fool, though. He'd listened to Anthis eight years ago and left his wife in Greece. All for fortune.
"Perhaps you know where that Scotsman is off to?" Anthis picked his tooth with his pinky nail. "He owes me a wager. If he pays up, perhaps it will give you some time." He chuckled, surveying the area. "Where is he? His wife is a mute, it seems."
"Mrs. McKee?" Alex blurted. Had Anthis pressured her to pay up for Jack?
"Neh, neh." He nodded then snorted. "She is not a happy woman."
"Jack McKee is dead, Anthis."
"Oh, really?" He scratched his jaw. "Well, no wonder she wouldn't speak." He burst with a roaring chuckle. Wiping his eyes, he said from the corner of his mouth, "End of the month, Alex, no later."
Of course. Had he once skipped payment to this man? Many meals he skipped before Momma and Papa had come over and set up the restaurant. But, no, he had never denied Anthis the ridiculous amount of money that he demanded for Greeks to keep their jobs.
Anthis was almost as much to blame for Helena as —
Alex glared at the colorless sky above then sighed and ran to catch up to his brother.
"Jack was a good man." Yanni shook his head. "It's a shame that Anthis had suckered him into his money-making schemes."
Not only had the fat slime taken money from his own people all these years, but now it seemed he was finding ways to cripple Jack's widow, also. What did Mrs. McKee think of his people with a man like Anthis trying to settle her dead husband's gambling debt?
Alex shouldn't care what she thought — although she was mysterious to him. He'd seen pain and hope and kindness dance across her face yesterday. They shared more in common than this mountainous town. If only Mrs. McKee knew that he had walked the same valley of loss that she was walking now.
Alex was glad that he'd helped her find some hope. He knew how important that was at such a time. Second best to having a comforter and a friend. But Alex Pappas could not be anything of the sort to Leanna McKee. What a dangerous notion that would prove to be.
Excerpted from "My Heart Belongs in Castle Gate, Utah"
Copyright © 2017 Angie Dicken.
Excerpted by permission of Barbour Publishing, Inc.
All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.
Excerpts are provided by Dial-A-Book Inc. solely for the personal use of visitors to this web site.
Most Helpful Customer Reviews
My impression of this book was that it was a page-turner from the beginning. I thought the storyline was really exciting to read. There is great anticipation that builds, crumbles, builds, crumbles, and builds again. I loved how the author painted the feel of America at that time. This was very frustrating and just the way it was back in the day... I'm so thankful there is no partiality with God. Check this one out for an excellent read! I received a copy of this book in exchange for my honest review.
"There is no darkness, but ignorance." That is the central theme for the novel, My Heart Belongs in Castle Gate Utah, by Angie Dicken. Taking readers into the heart of the west in Castle Gate, Utah during the 1900's, we find racial prejudice present even in the past. For those immigrating from Greece to settle in the small towns ripe with the hope of prosperity and opportunity, they also face discrimination based on the fact, they are not considered true Americans and have to settle in a place outside of town known as Greek Town. It is here that the Pappas family has found hope with the opening of their restaurant serving Greek food to those that work in the mines, more Greek immigrants. For someone like Alex who came here to make money to help care for the health of his wife back home, but tragically couldn't make enough before she passed away. He then used that money to bring his own family to America where they can all be together to make it in this new world. Leanna McKee, a school teacher in Castle Rock, has found her own grief here, losing her husband Jack in an accident that left her a widow but also one with outstanding gambling debts her husband incurred without her knowledge. She dreams for a way to move forward in San Francisco where she has connections with her family, but without funds, she has to stay where she is until she has saved enough to make the move there. Thankfully that opportunity comes to her via Alex Pappas who needs someone to escort his niece and nephew back and forth to school while their parents tend to the health of their mother during her pregnancy. When he offers to pay her, she immediately accepts! Is this truly an opportunity from God or is this a complication she should avoid with the tensions building in Castle Rock against those that associate with the Greeks? I received My Heart Belongs in Castle Gate Utah by Angie Dicken compliments of Barbour Publishing and Net Galley. I can only imagine how difficult it must have been for immigrants to come to this country, legally at that time and the tensions that they had to deal with. Just friendships with those immigrants was often meet with hostility and anger to ensure that the discrimination would continue, despite how very wrong it was. I love how it is something that is worked out between Alex and Leanna by the conclusion of the novel, but also highlights a time in our own history when things did not goes as smooth as we might have believed. It also shows how strong traditions and culture were to those immigrants. Things they didn't want to leave behind.I easily give this one a 4.5 out of 5 stars in my opinion.
The setting of this book in Castle Gate, Utah intrigued me, as did the subject and story line. Angie Dicken has written an interesting, thoughtful, and poignant story of the trials of Greek immigrants in America, and specifically as workers in the mining community of Castle Gate, Utah. She did a wonderful job of depicting the struggles and hardships they endured as they tried to adjust to life in a new land. Racial, religious, and other strife and prejudice is heart-wrenching, and it occurs far too often today, as well as in the early 1900s. This story shows that getting to know others and their hearts can help overcome prejudices. The characters in the story are well-developed and interesting, and it was easy to relate to them. Threads of hope, forgiveness, and love are woven into the story and add dimension to it. The author obviously did much research into this subject and has stated that she had Greek ancestors that lived out these struggles in the Castle Gate area. I will definitely be looking for more books from her. I voluntarily reviewed a complimentary copy from NetGalley. All opinions are my own.
Set in 1910, the coal mining town of Castle Gate is not a progressive community. Greeks and Americans don’t mix, or at least that is what many wish for and try to force upon the residents. Leanna is a widow whose deceased miner husband did not hold to those beliefs and it caused some trouble between him and the town folk. After his death, she begins to become acquainted with the Pappas’, a Greek family that owns a restaurant and whose son Alex was a good friend to Leanna’s husband, Jack, both working in the coal mines. Leanna and Alex fall in love which causes many distressful moments between them and some of the other miners/townsfolk who dislike the Greeks. Author Angie Dicken is a third generation Greek American and knows her history, bringing to life the hardships and prejudices that faced this hard working people group. Leanna’s Choice has romance, strong characters, solid faith, and because it is a story about prejudice and racism, it contains some violence but not explicit. It induces thought regarding our own culture today and how, as Christ followers, we should embrace others. While I found it to be awfully slow moving, I think most fans of Christian historical fiction will find it a satisfying read. I received a complimentary copy of this book from Barbour Publishing and was under no obligation to post a review. No compensation has been received.
My Heart Belongs in Castle Gate, Utah: Leanna's Choice was okay for me. I could easily put it down. I like a book to pull me into the story so much that I have a hard time putting it down. The story was good, just not spectacular. I was totally unaware of coal mining in Utah. I think of West Virginia and Kentucky. I also did not know of the influx of Greek immigrants to that area at the turn of the 20th century. I enjoy learning about our country's rich history and this book provided on that count. The author did a great job of showing the prejudices regarding class, ethnicity, and religion that occurred at that time. I appreciated how the main character was humble and conscientious. Leanna admitted her faults and had a genuine desire to not repeat her mistakes. She showed loved to others at a time and place where it was apparently unpopular. I love how family was a big theme throughout the story. Aside from some slow spots, this book was pretty okay. I received a complimentary copy of this book from Barbour Publishing and was under no obligation to post a review.
This is a charming story full of love, history, culture, bravery and hard decisions. The characters are well developed and well rounded. Life doesn’t always work out the way they hoped and the author does a great job or making them seem like real people because of this. I didn’t know much about Greek American history before reading this book. This aspect of the story makes it incredibly unique! We often find other cultures widely written about. But I’ve never read a story about Greek Americans. The story progresses rather quickly which keeps the readers attention. I loved all the twists and turns. It’s great when a book is not predictable from the get go. Loved this story and can’t wait to read more from this author. I received a copy of this book from Barbour publisher. I was under no compulsion to write a review.
I love historical fiction. This book did not dissapoint! I learned so much of the Greek background in the 1900's. I love the characters Leanna and Alex are fighting for love the entire book. The author did a great job with all the historical information, I never kne w this much about the Greeks and how they suffered. If you love a good historical fiction with some wonderful characters this is the book for you. I received a complimentary copy of this book from Barbour Publishing and was under no obligation to post a review.
In 1910 Schoolteacher, Leanna McKee, plans to leave the coal mining town of Castle Gate, Utah, where her husband was killed in the mine. Then she meets a widower miner, Alex Pappas, who awakens her heart which stirs up a heap of trouble. Alex’s Greek parents have arranged a more traditional match for him. Her association with the Greek family begins to anger the American miners, and they threaten Alex and his family. Leanna has received an offer to teach elsewhere and feels she has no choice but to leave Castle Gate even though she will be leaving her heart behind. Can forbidden love survive Old World expectations? I receive complimentary books for review from publishers, publicists, and/or authors. I am not required to write positive reviews. The opinions I have expressed are my own. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission's 16 CFR, Part 255.
Another author to me from this series. I learned about the struggles Greek immigrants experienced when coming to America; not unlike our immigrants today. Competition for jobs, disrespect as people, rudeness and arson to their persons and property. It was an eye opener for me. I usually always note that there are one or two obstacles to love, but this historical fiction became downright impossible for love to win! I would have tucked my tail between my legs and ran just to get away from this e pressure of all the impossibilities. That's why I'm not cut out for those days of downright hostility to new settlers and ethnic cliques. I recommend reading this book to compare the immigration problems of today with the Greek immigration of many years ago. It is a good romance but almost too challenging! I was given this book by Barbour Publishing for an unbiased, unrequited review.iii
My Heart Belongs in Castle Gate, Utah: Leanna's Choice (My Heart Belongs) by Angie Dicken Journey now to Castle Gate, Utah of 1910 where... Forbidden Love Tries to Survive Old World Expectations Schoolteacher Leanna McKee plans on leaving the coal mining town of Castle Gate, Utah, and never looking back. Good riddance to coal dust, rugged men, and the fatal mine that took her husband’s life. Until the widow meets a widower who awakens her heart...and she finds herself inexplicably falling for miner Alex Pappas which stirs up a whole heap of trouble. Alex’s Greek parents have arranged a more traditional match for him. When the schoolteacher’s association with the Greek family begins to anger the American miners, they threaten Alex and his family. Leanna has received an offer to teach elsewhere and feels she has no choice but to leave Castle Rock. . .though she will be leaving her heart behind. this is Alex Pappas and Leanna McKee's story. Schoolteacher Leanna McKee plans on leaving the coal mining town of Castle Gate, Utah, and never looking back. Leanna is a recent widow who lost her husband in a mining accident. Leanna McKee is a widowed schoolteacher. Alex is a Greek immigrant who came to America with the goal of making enough money to send to Greece to pay for his wife’s medicine. Alex Pappas is a widowed miner. Alex Pappas was a friend of Leanna's husband, working with him in the mines. He befriended Leanna and employed her to watch his niece and nephew before and after school while their family was busy with work. This novel is a Christian Historical Romance. My Heart Belongs in Castle Gate, Utah: Leanna's Choice is part of the My Heart Belongs series published by Barbour Books. Each book in the “My Heart Belongs” series is unique and a stand-alone. I highly recommend this book. My Heart Belongs in Castle Gate, Utah: Leanna's Choice (My Heart Belongs) by Angie Dicken is a wonderful well written 5 star book. I received a complimentary copy of this book from Barbour Publishing and was under no obligation to post a review. more book Angie Dicken The Outlaw's Second Chance (Love Inspired Historical) by Angie Dicken My Heart Belongs in Castle Gate, Utah: Leanna's Choice (My Heart Belongs) by Angie Dicken More from My Heart Belongs in Series... My Heart Belongs in Fort Bliss: Priscilla's Reveille by Erica Vetsch My Heart Belongs in the Superstition Mountains: Carmella's Quandary by Susan Page Davis My Heart Belongs in Ruby City, Idaho: Rebecca's Plight by Susanne Dietze My Heart Belongs on Mackinac Island: Maude's Mooring by Carrie Fancett Pagels My Heart Belongs in the Shenandoah Valley: Lily's Dilemma by Andrea Boeshaar
What a beautiful and heart warming story! I loved the characters and Alex’s family’s loyalty to each other. The author writes so that you feel and understand the hard and discouraging times of those who immigrated here. Leanna only wants to escape and move on to better things and crosses paths with Alex who just wants to keep building a life for him and his family in America. The romance is beautiful and swoon worthy! The detail in the Greek life and the scenery made me feel a part of the story. It made me cheer for Alex and Leanna through all the obstacles and setbacks almost as if they were family. Very well written! I received a complimentary copy of this book from Barbour Publishing and was under no obligation to post a review.
"My Heart Belongs in Castle Gate,Utah - Leanna's Choice" Can love overcome racial prejudice against the Greek coal miners in the small coal mining community of Castle Gate? Widowed, Leanna teaches and cares for her Greek students and falls in love with their Greek Uncle, Alex, but this causes discontent between the Greek and American workers and his family. She has already made the decision to move away to Salt Lake City teach and care for a small boy and eventually teach in San Francisco, when a mining accident occurs to brings her back to check on Alex, who is now promised to a Greek woman with a dowry. I received a complimentary copy of this book from Barbour Publishing and was under no obligation to post a review.
My heart belongs in Castle Gate Utah by Angie Dicken I’ve enjoyed the “My Heart belongs in…” series. Each one is quite unique, not just in each location, but in each story. Angie Dicken is a new author to me. Her writing style is easy to read and flows well. The topic is somewhat unique to romance. We’ve seen many a “forbidden” romance but this one touches on bigotry and racism. As ever, we get our happy ending, but not without a lot of angst and reconciliation. A good book when you’re in the mood to read something a little heavier but still light. I received a complimentary copy of this book from Barbour Publishing and was under no obligation to post a review.
We sometimes feel that racism started during slavery and perhaps that made it more obvious, but I do believe it has always been there, ever since man was created. Enter Castle Gate, Utah in the early 1900's and you would surely find a nice little town, even if the streets were muddy sometimes. Since the main income for workers was mining, you would see men walking home looking very black after their shift underground. As all the men worked very hard, it would seem they should all be treated equally. However, this was knot the case when it came to the Greek men. In fact, while eating at their restaurant was fine, you certainly wouldn't want to be friendly with them. So is it even possible for love to blossom amid cultural traditions? I received a complimentary copy of this book from Barbour Publishing and was under no obligation to post a review.
My Heart Belongs in Castle Gate Utah “Leanna’s Choice” is a romance mining novel. Early in the 1900s two people from totally different backgrounds fall in love. Leanna is a widow and longs to get out of town where her husband lost his life. Alex lost his wife so Leanna thinks they are somewhat alike. Will Leanna leave town when she gets the chance? Does Alex want her to leave where she won’t complicate his life? These are some of the questions that will be answered when you read this great book. I love the way Angie Dicken writes and keeps us wondering how this will turn out. You can feel the emotional highs and lows of the main characters. Their hearts and minds are so torn trying to figure out how things can be done when it’s a forbidden love in the Old World. I also love the way the author brought in the traditions and the culture of the Greeks because I always enjoy learning about other countries. Don’t miss this sweet historical romance that I think you will enjoy if you like historical fiction. I received a complimentary copy of this book from Barbour Publishing and was under no obligation to post a review.
This book was very enjoyable. I loved the setting in Utah and the time period. Ready to read more from this author. I received a complimentary copy of this book from Barbour Publishing and was under no obligation to post a review.
Leanna’s Choice A great historical novel set in Castle Gate, Utah. I was surprised at the animosity between the Americans and Greek immigrants, even though many had become citizens. So, imagine the difficulties when the white school teacher Leanna becomes attracted to a Greek miner Alex, and vice versa. The community is not in favor of this friendship and hostility is very obvious. One evening, a fire is set at the restaurant owned by Alex’s parents. It doesn’t help that Alex’s father is adamant that Alex has to marry a Greek girl and arranges to have one come to America. Leanna and Alex decide it is best for her to take a nanny position in Salt Lake City. This separation does nothing to stop the love growing in their hearts for each other. What can they do? Leanna learns of the mine collapse in Castle Gate after injured miners are brought to the hospital in Salt Lake City. After visiting an injured miner, she is told that Alex was trapped in the mine. Leanna makes the decision to return to Castle Gate to make sure Alex is safe. After Alex’s rescue, he is sent to Salt Lake City for treatment and therapy. Leanna has made up her mind to go to San Francisco to live and work, because she cannot stay without causing problems in Alex’s family. What a fun ending when Alex arrives on the train to Castle Gate just as Leanna is waiting for the train to leave. A perfect time for Leanna to learn that the arranged marriage for Alex is cancelled and his Greek bride-to-be is going home to Greece. There is so much more to this novel. I hope I have given you a small peek into Leanna’s life so that you will want to read the book. I received a complimentary copy of this book from Barbour Publishing and was under no obligation to post a review.
This story is very interesting since I've learned more about the Greek customs and beliefs than I already knew. The poor widow, Leanna, is sad over losing her husband in a mining accident but she also feels anger and guilt over financial loss and having no friends, his gambling and more. She is a teacher who loves teaching the Greek children how to speak English. As she is asked to help care for 2 children who are related to Alex, a handsome Greek who worked with her husband and there is an immediate attraction for each of them. However, they constantly fight it since he is supposed to marry a Greek wife not an American, such as Leanna. I had hoped there would be some lightheartedness but it is pretty serious throughout. I enjoyed the book, wanting to know how it all would turn out from the choices Leanna had: sty in Castle Gate, return to Boston with an old admirer, tutor a boy in Salt Lake City. I received a complimentary copy of this book from Barbour Publishing and was under no obligation to post a review.
I thought this was a great book. The characters grabbed me and didn’t let go. I like the way the author portrayed the prejudices and how people were striving to overcome them. As hard as it sometimes is to overcome prejudices and cultural stereotypes today, I can imagine it was much harder in 1910. I think the author handled it very well. The book was full of God’s love and healing as well as forgiveness and God’s timing. I would recommend this book. I received a complimentary copy of this book from Barbour Publishing and was under no obligation to post a review.
I have to say that I have read several of this series, "My Heart Belongs in..." by now and I love all the ones I've read. My Heart Belongs in Castle Gate, Utah is another great book. It is a historical fiction book covering a time period about 100 years ago when immigrants coming into America were the Greeks suffering from a drought. Their presence was filled with conflict because they often filled in wherever they were needed, even when that gap was caused by workers on strike protesting poor working conditions. As a result, there were demonstrations and riots protesting these interim workers, and Greeks were looked down upon in disdain. Leanna McKee was a recent newlywed whose husband was killed in a coal mining accident. She had been raised in Boston as a debutante, but rebelled against her upbringing because she was incensed about the treatment of immigrants and their poor working conditions. As a result she broke away from her family, who gained their wealth from such factories, eloped with an workingman and became a teacher of immigrant children in Utah. Her husband's death left her in a town filled with male mine workers and few other women. She was determined to leave the area and began looking for employment somewhere else. Alex Pappas was a friend of Leanna's husband, working with him in the mines. He befriended Leanna and employed her to watch his niece and nephew before and after school while their family was busy with work. An attraction began to grow between the two, one a widower and the other a widow. But circumstances and prejudices seem to work against them all the time. The Pappas family enjoyed their friendship with Leanna, but would not approve of anything more because she was not Greek. The first part of the book begins slowly. We get acquainted with the history of each of the principle characters and their personalities first before the situation changes. I really enjoyed learning something of the Greek culture. Both Alex and Brianna are haunted by their past failings. Alex has turned his back on God after the death of his wife, to his family's distress, but remains stalwart in supporting his family's move to America to begin their lives again. He fights against his attraction to Leanna because prejudice against them being together is very strong and could lead to danger for his family. Toward the end of the book circumstances looked bleak, and I began to feel the despair of the characters as they fought against unfair treatment and snobbery. There were some interesting twists in the plot and the tension was well built. The author had me rushing to the very end in suspense to see how it was going to work out. Disclosure of Material Connection: I received a complimentary review copy of this book from Barbour Publishing as part of the Barbour Review Crew program on behalf of the author. I was not required to write a review, positive or otherwise. The opinions I have expressed are my own. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s 16 CFR, Part255: "Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising."
“Do you expect us to give up on our chosen life because of ignorance?” Angie Dicken’s novel My Heart Belongs in Castle Gate, Utah may be shining a spotlight on immigrant issues and prejudice in 1910 but it’s just as timely for today. People persecuted and segregated for no other reason than that they were born in Greece. Much like immigrants from several different countries are treated in the US today. Nestled in the midst of the heartbreaking struggle is Leanna McKee, a widowed schoolteacher nursing a grudge toward her late husband. I really liked her character – even though we are very different, I could still relate to her and I think we would be friends were she … you know … real… and alive today. Agreeing to tutor a couple of (adorable) Greek children leads her into the path of Alex Pappas, a widowed miner with a grudge against God. Alex is swoony and wounded and he has a heart of gold, in spite of his anger at God and his wariness of the Americans (who are upset at his family’s success as restaurateurs). My heart ached for his family and the persecution they endured just for being Greek. In fact, I fell in love with the Pappas clan and would love to interact with them in more books! As Leanna and Alex strike up an unlikely romance – and maybe something more – tensions in their mining community turn volatile. Dicken has done a fabulous job of establishing the tension and maintaining the electric-crackle of emotions without veering into melodrama. Bottom Line: My Heart Belongs in Castle Gate, Utah by Angie Dicken is at times heartbreaking, at other times heartwarming – but always inspiring. Despite being a reflection of 1910 Utah, it has many timely insights for us today. Leanna and Alex’s story teaches us to pray -and strive – for a day when we see other for our hearts as well as our origins. It teaches us to appreciate cultural differences and to take the time to discover another person’s story, especially if that person is completely different from you. And above all, it reminds us that God is always good and He always has a plan, even if we can’t see it in the moment of our deepest pain. A great read for fans of historical fiction! (I voluntarily reviewed a complimentary copy of this book)
Prejudice against Greeks is tackled in this Historical Fiction that takes place in the mining town of Castle Gate, Utah in 1910. This is a subject I had not read about and with Angie Dicken’s descriptive word I was able to visualize the time and place, as well as the food. Leanna and Alex each had expectations that were unfulfilled in life and because of circumstances they must keep a distance, but they each discover that God has a plan and He is always faithful. Great characters and an interesting storyline keep you reading. Another book for your TBR pile, as it is very enjoyable. I received a complimentary copy from Barbour Publishing. The honest review and opinions are own and were not required.
This is the first book I have read about the people who emigrated to America from Greece. It was informative and enjoyable. The characters are likeable and make you want to know more about them and what is happening in their lives. I was disappointed when the book was over wanting to know how their lives turned out. It is interesting to learn how different cultures blended with others in early America. I received a complimentary copy of this book from Barbour Publishing and was under no obligation to post a review.
3.5 out of 5 MY HEART BELONGS IN CASTLE GATE, UTAH, was a sweet book with genuine characters. Though the pacing was a little slow for my liking, overall, the story kept me interested. Schoolteacher, Leanna McKee is trying to find her purpose. Widowed, and feeling guilty she wasn’t the wife she should have been, Leanna is convinced she needs to leave the town of Castle Gate if she hopes to have a fresh start in life. But, when asked to help a local Greek family-by walking their children to and from school-Leanna agrees, and is quickly smitten by the Pappas family. Maria and Teddy are adorable children, and their Uncle Alex is sweet, and kind, and quite handsome. Alex’s father and mother are very traditional and set in their way, but gracious to her nonetheless. Though Leanna feels an immediate attraction for Alex, he is Greek, and she is not. Alex Pappas is a hardworking man who tries to stay positive, and does all he can for his family. Also widowed, he feels he has a unique understanding about the guilt and pain Leanna McKee feels over the loss of her husband. When he asks her to oversee his niece and nephew, he looks forward to their short conversations and makes sure their paths cross often. Soon, he is inviting her to his family restaurant, merely as a thank you for all she is doing. But, his family sees that his interest in Leanna runs deep. Knowing that social lines exist between Greeks and Americans, his family discourage him from perusing Leanna. But his heart cannot be so easily swayed. The township of Castle Gate is unhappy with the influx of Greek immigrants living in their city, taking their jobs. Tension is thick. Threats are made. Accidents happen. Leanna fears what will happen to Alex or his family if they pursue a relationship. When direct threats are made, she decides to leave Castle Gate, even if she’s leaving her heart behind. MY HEART BELONGS IN CASTLE GATE, UTAH, was enjoyable to read, but at times I found the constant inner voice of Leanna and Alex a little redundant. We know early on how they feel and what they struggle with, but their inner conflict is rehashed several times throughout the book. I think the parts I found most distracting, was when Leanna lamented her dead husband, his vices, and the way she treated him. I couldn’t tell if it was self-loathing that plagued her, or if she really had been that belligerent to him. During these segments, I found myself straddling the fence regarding my feelings for Leanna. It almost made her feel unlikable. But Alex, was easy to like and root for. You saw the struggle he had to be respectful of his parents and their traditions, but also wanting to be his own man. Overall, an enjoyable book. I received a complimentary copy of this book from Barbour Publishing and was under no obligation to post a review.
Can true love win out over hate and bigotry? Do Leanna and Alex dare to believe that perseverance can win over ages of strongly held traditions and beliefs? Before their questions are answered, they must put aside their own doubt and bitterness from past tragedies. Only then can they explore the possibility of a relationship. “My Heart Belongs in Castle Gate Utah” is a heartfelt and wonderful story, set in a mining town in the early 1900’s. It is rich with the history and cultural challenges of early American settlers. The story of Leanna and Alex’s struggles to find their answers will keep your attention from beginning to end. I received a complimentary copy of this book from Barbour Publishing and was under no obligation to post a review. The opinions expressed are mine alone.