These Healing Hills

These Healing Hills

by Ann H. Gabhart


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Francine Howard has her life all mapped out until the soldier she planned to marry at WWII's end writes to tell her he's in love with a woman in England. Devastated, Francine seeks a fresh start in the Appalachian Mountains, training to be a nurse midwife for the Frontier Nursing Service.

Deeply affected by the horrors he witnessed at war, Ben Locke has never thought further ahead than making it home to Kentucky. His future shrouded in as much mist as his beloved mountains, he's at a loss when it comes to envisioning what's next for his life.

When Francine's and Ben's paths intersect, it's immediately clear that they are from different worlds and value different things. But love has a way of healing old wounds . . . and revealing tantalizing new possibilities.

Product Details

ISBN-13: 9780800723637
Publisher: Baker Publishing Group
Publication date: 09/05/2017
Pages: 368
Sales rank: 536,879
Product dimensions: 5.50(w) x 8.50(h) x (d)

About the Author

Ann H. Gabhart is the bestselling author of several Shaker novels—The Outsider, The Believer, The Seeker, The Blessed, and The Gifted—as well as Angel Sister, Small Town Girl, Love Comes Home, Words Spoken True, and The Heart of Hollyhill series. She lives with her husband a mile from where she was born in rural Kentucky. Learn more at

Read an Excerpt


May 15, 1945

Francine Howard stepped off the bus into another world. She should have been prepared. She'd studied the Frontier Nursing information until she almost knew it by heart. That should have given her a glimpse into this place.

Hyden was in the Appalachian Mountains, but it was still Kentucky. While she lived in Cincinnati, she had spent many summer weeks on her Grandma Howard's farm in northern Kentucky. But somehow the train from Lexington to Hazard and then the bus from Hazard to here had transported her away from everything she thought she knew about Kentucky and dumped her out in a place that looked as foreign to her as the moon.

But wasn't that what she wanted? To be in a new place long before Seth Miller brought his English bride home from the war.

That might not be long. The war in Europe was over. Now, with all the firepower of the Allies focused on the Pacific, surely an end to the terrible war was in sight.

When the news flashed through the country last week that Germany had surrendered, Francine celebrated along with everybody else. How could she not be happy to think about the boys coming home, even if Seth's last letter had changed everything? Seth might finally be on the way home, but not to her.

The news of his betrayal hadn't taken long to circulate through Francine's neighborhood. Not from Francine. Seth's little sister took care of spreading the news. Alice had shown everybody the picture Seth sent home of him with his arm around this English woman. She'd even shown Francine.

"I know you and Seth used to date when you were in high school, but he didn't give you a ring or anything, did he?" Alice must have seen the stricken look on Francine's face, because she pulled the picture back quickly and shoved it in her pocketbook.

"No, no ring." Francine managed to push a smile out on her face and salvage a little pride.

Alice fingered the clasp on her purse. "You want to see the picture again? I jerked it away pretty fast."

"I saw it. She's very pretty"

She'd seen enough to know that. The woman had barely come up to Seth's shoulder. Petite with curly blonde hair and a dimpled smile. Nothing at all like Francine with her plain brown hair and hazel eyes. Just looking at the woman's picture had made her feel tall and gawky In heels, Francine was nearly as tall as Seth.

Built strong, Grandma Howard used to say. Her grandmother told Francine she was pretty enough, but a person didn't want to be only for pretty like a crystal bowl set on a shelf folks were afraid to use. Better to be a useful vessel ready to be filled with the work the Lord intended for her. Back in her neighborhood, Francine had felt like a cracked bowl somebody had pitched aside.

People sent pitying looks her way. Poor Francine Howard. Going to end up just like Miss Ruby at church, who cried every Mother's Day. No husband. No children. No chances.

But where one door closed, another opened. If not a door, a window somewhere. Another thing Grandma Howard used to say. The Lord had opened a way for Francine to escape the pity trailing after her back home. The Frontier Nursing Service. She had a nursing degree and she could ride a horse. She needed an adventure to forget her bruised heart.

An adventure. That was what the woman had offered when she came to the hospital last November to recruit nurses to train as midwives at the Frontier Nursing Service in Leslie County, Kentucky.

The need was great. The people in the Appalachian Mountains didn't have ready access to doctors the way they did in Cincinnati.

At the time, Francine imagined it might be thrilling to ride a horse up into the hills to deliver babies in cabins, but she gave it little consideration. Seth would be home from the war, and she planned to have her own babies after they got married. Babies she might already have if not for the war or if she hadn't let her mother talk her out of marrying Seth before he went overseas.

Then everything might be different.

Everything was different now as she stood in front of the drugstore, where the bus driver told her she needed to get off. She had no idea what to do next. The people on the street were giving her the eye but staying well away, as though her foreignness might be catching.

She squared her shoulders and clutched her small suitcase in front of her, the larger bag on the walkway beside her. She tried a smile, but it bounced back to her like a rock off a stone wall. Somebody was supposed to meet her, but nobody stepped forward to greet her.

She blinked to clear her eyes that were suddenly too watery. Francine wasn't one to dissolve into tears when things went wrong.

She hadn't even cried when she read Seth's letter. What good would tears do? Prayers were better. But right at that moment, Francine didn't know whether to pray for someone to show up from the Frontier Nursing Service or for a train ticket back to Cincinnati.

"She must be one of those brought-in women."

The man was behind her, but she didn't need to see him to know he was talking about her. She was a stranger. Somebody who didn't belong. At least not yet.

First things first. If nobody was there to get her, she'd find her own way to the hospital. All she needed was somebody to point the way.

A man came out of the drugstore straight toward her. "You must be one of Mrs. Breckinridge's nurses."

"I'm here to go to the midwifery school." Francine smiled at the tall, slender man. "Somebody was supposed to meet me."

He didn't exactly smile back, but he didn't look unfriendly.

"Been a lot of rain. The river's rolling. Probably kept them from making it to see to you. Do you know how to get to the hospital?"

Francine looked around. "Is it down the street a ways?"

"It's a ways, all right. Up there." He pointed toward the mountain looming over the town.

Francine peered toward where he was pointing. High above them was a building on the side of the mountain.

"There's a road, but since you're walking, the path up the mountain is shorter." The man gave her a dubious look. "You think you can make it?"

Francine stared at what appeared to be steps chiseled in the side of the mountain. "I'm sure I can." She tried to sound more confident than she felt.

"The path is plain as day. Don't hardly see how you could stray off'n it. But tell you what. Jeb over there is headed that way. He can take you on up."

The man he indicated with a nod of his head was the last person Francine would have considered following anywhere. In spite of the warm spring day, he wore a coat spilling cotton batting from several rips. A felt hat perched on top of a tangled mass of graying hair, and his beard didn't appear to have been trimmed for months. Maybe years. With a shotgun drooping from the crook of his arm, the man appeared anxious to be on his way and not at all happy to be saddled with a brought-in woman.

But what other choice did she have? She leaned over to pick up her other bag, but the man from the drugstore put his hand on it first.

"Don't bother with that. Somebody will bring it up to you later."

She left it, wondering if she'd ever lay eyes on it again as she fell in behind the man named Jeb. Back home, daylight would have a couple more hours, but here shadows were deepening as the sun slid out of sight behind one of the hills that towered around the town. Jeb gave her a hard look, then turned and started away without a word. Francine slung her purse strap over her shoulder, clutched her small suitcase, and hurried after him.

She had to be insane to follow this strange man away from town. He could be leading her to some godforsaken place to do no telling what to get rid of this interloper slowing him down. Not that he set a slower pace for her. She had to step double-quick to keep up. Nor did he offer to take her suitcase or even look back to see if she was still behind him. He didn't have to look back.

He could surely hear her panting. Where were those horses the Frontier Nursing brochure promised?

When the path leveled out for a few paces, Francine caught up to the man whose pace didn't change whether the way was steep or level. She could at least try to be friendly. "My name is Francine Howard."

She wasn't certain, but she thought he might have grunted. She was certain he did not so much as glance back over his shoulder at her and that, in spite of the path taking a sharp upward turn, he began moving faster. His foot scooted on the trail and dislodged a rock that bounced down toward Francine. She tried to jump out the way, but she wasn't quick enough.

The rock landed on her toe. She bit her lip to keep from crying out. Mashed toes practically required a good yell. She set down her suitcase and rubbed her toe through her shoe. Her fingers were numb from clutching her suitcase handle and she could see nothing but trees. No wonder they called this place Thousand-stick Mountain. This many trees had to make a lot of sticks.

She'd been totally mistaken thinking her visits to her grandmother's farm would prepare her for Leslie County. Everything wasn't straight uphill there. A person could walk those rolling hills without losing her breath. Trees didn't close in on you and make you wonder if you'd ever see sunshine again.

She gave up on her throbbing toe and massaged her fingers. She started to call for the man to wait, but she kept her mouth closed.

The path was plain, and while the shadows were lengthening, it wasn't dark. How far could it be? People obviously traveled this way all the time, and the man's footprints were plain as day on the muddy pathway.

The Lord had pointed her to the Frontier Nursing Service. He wasn't going to abandon her on this mountain. Francine ignored the little niggling voice in the back of her mind that said the Lord had given her a guide. Her task was keeping up.

Too late for that now. The man was gone. Francine rotated her shoulders and picked up her suitcase. Time to carry on. Find her place on this mountain.

She started climbing again, slower now as she looked around.

Thick green bushes pushed into the path with buds promising beaut). Rhododendron. She couldn't wait to see them burst into bloom. Delicate white flowers near the path tempted her to step into the trees for a better look, but the thought of snakes stopped her. Snakebit and alone on this mountain might not lead to a happy outcome.

At first, the man's footprints were easy to follow, but then the way got steeper and nothing but rocks. No sign of the man ahead of her. Worse, the path split in two directions. Even worse, the shadows were getting darker. It could be she should have run to keep up with silent Jeb after all.

Even standing on her tiptoes, she couldn't see the hospital up ahead as the trees and bushes crowded in on the path here. Both traces went up, so that was no help. She had no idea how high this mountain was. She might be climbing all night. But no, she'd seen the hospital from town. It couldn't be much farther.

Francine set her case down again and chocked it with her foot to keep it from sliding away from her. The word steep was taking on new meaning.

With her eyes wide open, she whispered, "Dear Lord, I know you haven't left me alone here on this mountain. So can you point the way?"

She stood silent then. She didn't want to miss a second answer if the Lord took pity on her after she'd foolishly trusted too much in her own abilities instead of scrambling after her mountain man guide.

Just when she was ready to give up on divine intervention and pick a path, she heard whistling. Not a bird, but a man. And the sound was coming closer. The Lord was sending her someone to point the way. Certainly not Jeb coming back for her. She couldn't imagine that stone-faced man whistling the merry tune coming to her ears.

"Hello," she called. She didn't want the whistler to pass her by without seeing her.

The whistling abruptly stopped. Francine called again. This time an echoing hello came back to her, and a gangly boy, maybe fourteen or fifteen, scrambled into view down the path to her left.

His overalls were too short, showing a span of leg above well-worn shoes, but the best thing about him were his blue eyes that looked as friendly as a summer sky.

He skidded to a stop and stared down at her. "You lost?"

"A bit," Francine admitted. "Could you point me the way to the Hyden Hospital?"

"I reckon you're one of Mrs. Breckinridge's brought-in nurses."

He gave her a curious look. "Do you catch babies?"

"I'm here to train to be a midwife." Francine smiled at the idea of catching babies. "At the hospital. Is it much farther?"

"Not all that far, but night might catch you. You best follow me." He came on down to her and started up the other path. "Weren't nobody down there in town to show you the way?"

"I was supposed to follow somebody named Jeb, but I didn't keep up."

The boy laughed. "That Jeb. And I reckon he never said word one. Jeb, he ain't much of a talker. Not like me. My brother used to tell me I jabbered as much as a jaybird that had been sipping out of a moonshine still. At least that's what he said before he went off to fight the Germans. That's been nigh on four years now, but I'm still a talker."

"I was very happy to hear you whistling a few minutes ago."

Francine picked up her bag and followed the boy. "My name is Francine Howard. Do you have a name other than Jaybird?"

"Jaybird might be better than what folks call me. Woody. Woody Locke. Sort of sounds funny when you say it, but my pa was Woodrow. Woodrow Locke, that's a fine name. One I reckon I can take on after I get a little older." His voice softened, turned somber.

"Now that Pa passed on last year."

"Oh, I'm sorry" Francine felt an answering wave of sympathy. Her own father had died two years ago.

"Ma says the Lord calls people home when he's ready for them, and we shouldn't look askance at the Lord's doing." The boy looked over his shoulder at her. "I get in trouble all the time asking too much about everything. Pa, he used to say I had a curious mind, but Ma gets worn out by my wonderings."

"That's how you learn things." Francine couldn't keep from panting a little as she climbed behind Woody.

The boy noticed. He looked stricken as he turned back to her.

"Give me that case. My ma would slap me silly if she saw me letting you lug that thing and me with two free hands."

"Thank you." Francine handed it to him. "But maybe you should just tell me the way now. You need to go on home before night falls so your mother won't worry."

"Ma don't worry none about me. She sent me up here to get some medicine for Sadie. That's my little sister and she's been punying around. The nurse over our way said she needed some ear drops she had run out of in her medicine bag. So I came on to fetch them. Sadie being the youngest and all, Ma babies her some.

We all do. She ain't but four, nigh on five."

"But it will be dark soon."

"Dark don't fret me. I can find my way light or night. But Ma knowed I'd probably find a spot in town to spend the night 'fore I head on up the mountain come morning. Get me out of chores."

He grinned at Francine and turned back up the path. "I oughta be shamed about that with Ma having to do them, but I laid in wood for her this morn and she milks the cow most every night herself anyhow. She'll have a list of chores a mile long to make up for me being late home, but she wouldn't want me not to help one of you nurses. No sir. I'd get in way more trouble if I didn't see that you made it to where you're going."

"You don't have any other brothers at home?" Walking uphill after him was easier without carrying the suitcase, but it didn't seem to slow Woody down at all.

"Nope. It's just me and Sadie now. Ruthie, she went north to work in one of the airplane factories and Becca got married and moved over to a mining camp in Harlan County. Ben, he's the oldest. He joined up with the army after Pearl Harbor. I been telling Ma I'm nigh old enough to go fight the Germans and the Japs too, but Ma don't like hearing that. Says she's busy enough praying that the Lord ain't ready for Ben to go home with Pa." He looked back at Francine again. "Ben's the one what says I jabber like a jaybird. Guess you can see why now."

"I always liked jaybirds." That made Woody laugh. "Where is your brother? In Europe or the Pacific?"

"Europe last we heard. We get letters now and again, but places where he might be are all cut out of them. He's a medic. Ma's right proud that he ain't just over there shooting people, but that he's doing some healing too."

"That does sound good. I'll add my prayers to your mother's for his safety and that he'll get home soon."


Excerpted from "These Healing Hills"
by .
Copyright © 2017 Ann H. Gabhart.
Excerpted by permission of Baker Publishing Group.
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.

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These Healing Hills 4.7 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 38 reviews.
Kayla_Stierwalt More than 1 year ago
I received a copy of These Healing Hills by Ann H. Gabhart from Revell in exchange for a review. This book with its Kentucky mountain fall picture on its cover arrived when I moved to Kentucky last autumn. Though the setting was more mountainous and backwoods than Bowling Green and further back in time, it provided a place and mood match. The story followed a city nurse midwife named Francine Howard as she finished her training to “catch babies” and Ben Locke, a man who returned from war unsure of what to do next. Gabhart brought me into this mountain world and taught me about the midwife profession as well as the mountain lifestyle. The characters all held likable qualities, and I could relate to Francine’s internal struggle to determine where she belonged and where she wanted to live in the future. Francine also held admirable qualities to strive to do her best to complete the training as prescribed as well as to fully understand her patients. Overall, she showed strength in many ways as she handled birthing situations, a breakup with her fiancé and a new living and working environment. She held true to her values as she sought her direction for her next steps. I enjoyed this book and also had the opportunity to meet Ann H. Gabhart at SOKY Book Fest this past weekend. She chatted with me for a while was really sweet. She signed my book, and I got one of her cozy mysteries to read next.
sh2rose More than 1 year ago
These Healing Hills captured me! I loved the characters, the life of the midwives and the mountain people they served. Francine Howard choses to leave her privileged life behind to become a Frontier Nurse in the Appalachian mountains after her boyfriend breaks off their relationship. Her mother is horrified and no one thinks she can manage the rough rigors of serving the mountain people. She wants to try but there's more to learn than bringing babies into the world. She meets a recently returned War II veteran, Ben Locke when she gets lost on the hill. They survive a deluge under a rock outcropping which starts an edgy relationship. Francine's faith in God deepens as her trials stretch her dealing with the mountain people. I could say more but you really need to read it. The characters are full, complex, and real. The author's writing is superb.. I received a copy of this book from NetGalley and Publishing. My comments are my own and was under no obligation to do so.
KarenLange More than 1 year ago
This story had me staying up way too late to finish chapters! But I'd say that means Ann Gabhart wrote another good, engaging story. I enjoyed reading about and learning the history of the Frontier Nursing Service. I also enjoyed getting to know the characters, Francine, a "city girl" and Ben, the "country boy". The secondary characters were fun too, and added much, from Woody and Sadie to Granny Em and Betty. In addition to being rich in history, this book reflects some of the struggles we all face at times - decisions, choices, and following our heart. I give it two thumbs up! I'd enjoy seeing another book that continues Francine's and Ben's story.
debhgrty More than 1 year ago
Deb’s Dozen: Fran, a nurse-midwife, trains in the Kentucky mountains and falls in love. The Frontier Nursing Service (FNS) supplies nurse-midwives to the people of the eastern Kentucky Appalachian area. Ann Gabhart, in These Healing Hills, tells us the fictional story of one of them. Francine Howard left behind her life in Cincinnati to train as a nurse-midwife. She had been jilted by her supposed fiancé and felt led to a new area and life. She’d signed on with the FNS with their promise of “Your Horse, Your Dog, and a Thousand Miles of Kentucky Mountains to Serve.” Learning to be a midwife, to catch babies, was only part of the job, however. She had to milk the cow, take care of the horses, tend a garden, and take care of all the odds and ends of ailments and injuries that came her way. As Fran learns her job, she falls in love with the mountains and the mountain people. Instead of keeping her distance from them, she becomes part of their family–especially one, the Lockes. Their son Woody is a help at the station as well as a sometimes guide, sometimes gossiper, all the time talker. Daughter Sadie is mourning her dad, but Fran breaks through the sorrow with kind words-and leaves eardrops for her ailment. Then married daughter Becca returns and brings music to their lives. And the son who has been at war comes home-and crosses Fran’s path in the woods. Granny Em, an almost mythical character, speaks wisdom into Fran’s life. You’ll want to read These Healing Hills. The book is alive with love of Kentucky Appalachian area. You can feel the mountain breezes, taste the cool waters of the creeks, and smell the flowers in bloom. Fran is an amazing character you immediately care for–she is courageous, has common sense, and is the type of nurse we’d all like to have. The Lockes live too–you’ll chuckle at Woody’s antics, want to play with Sadie and Priscilla, her doll, and sing along with the women to brighten your day. And you’ll be exasperated with Ben when he comes home from the war. I highly recommend These Healing Hills–your spirit will be healed too. Five stars. Ann H. Gabhart is, to quote her bio, the bestselling author of many novels, including Angel Sister, Small Town Girl, and Love Comes Home; several Shaker novels such as The Outsider, The Believer, and The Innocent, along with The Heart of Hollyhill Series. As A. H. Gabhart, she is the author of The Hidden Springs Mysteries Series. Ann’s country roots go deep, and she and her husband still live on a country farm just over the hill from where she was born in a farmhouse built around a log cabin. Find out more at Revell Books gave me a copy of These Healing Hills, but I was in no way obligated to write a review.
Britney_Adams More than 1 year ago
These Healing Hills is a wonderful story! I adore historical fiction and delighted in learning about mountain midwifery and the Frontier Nursing Service. Gabhart does a tremendous job of bringing the time period and setting to life with vivid imagery as readers explore the Appalachian Mountains with Francine and Ben. I loved their tender romance and the sage words of wisdom found within their story! These Healing Hills is a beautifully told tale and a recommended read for those who enjoy historical romance. I received a complimentary copy of this book. No review was required, and all thoughts expressed are my own.
Suze-Lavender More than 1 year ago
It's 1945 and Francine thinks her future is secure. She's planning to marry Seth as soon as he's back from the war. When Seth writes her that he's in love with someone else Francine is devastated. Because Seth will bring his new love to America she decides it's time for a change. She signs up for the Frontier Nursing Service midwife training in the Appalachian Mountains. When she arrives she feels at ease straight away. Francine loves the mountains and she enjoys working with people, but there are many rules and customs she isn't used to. Has she made the right choice leaving everything she knows behind? Ben's family lives in the mountains. He hasn't seen them for quite some time, being a medic in the army. The horrors of the war have greatly affected him and he's glad to go home. However, when he arrives he doesn't have a clue what to do with himself. What should his future look like now that he has the time and the freedom to make his own decisions? When he meets Francine he immediately feels she's special, but they're from different worlds. Can they be friends and maybe even more or do their backgrounds stand in their way? These Healing Hills is a fantastic book. I was immediately intrigued by Francine. She's optimistic, strong and capable. She's kind and caring and never loses her faith. I loved how she takes the time to be there for people. She's a wonderful person and that makes this book incredibly beautiful. Moving from a life filled with luxury in the city to a much simpler and more basic one in the mountains isn't always easy and it was fascinating to read about her challenges. Francine makes mistakes and it's in those moments she has her most interesting meetings. I loved her connection with Ben, it's genuine and feels exactly right. I couldn't turn the pages of These Healing Hills quickly enough to find out what would happen to these two amazing people. Ann H. Gabhart skillfully paints a gorgeous picture of the Appalachian Mountains. I could certainly understand why Francine would love being there so much. I enjoyed reading the vivid descriptions of both the surroundings and the inhabitants that made the whole story come to life very well. I liked how Ann H. Gabhart pays attention to every single detail. She's made sure the story perfectly suits the era she's writing about. It especially was a lot of fun to read about the songs they were singing. She combines lightness with serious topics and balances this exactly right. The result is a charming, entertaining, multilayered, thought-provoking and romantic story. I loved everything about These Healing Hills, it's a brilliant book.
hplady More than 1 year ago
These Healing Hills By Ann Gabhart I was very excited when I saw that Ann Gabhart had a new book for us! I love reading her stories and always walk away from them feeling like I am closer to God. This book was just as good as the rest. In this story of healing and finding grace in the Appalachian Mountains of Kentucky, Gabhart draws us into the story of two people who are searching for hope and find each other. Francine Howard is happily awaiting the end of the war and planning her marriage to Seth, her high school sweetheart, when she finds out he met someone new overseas. He calls things off and intends to bring his new girlfriend back to the states with him. Francine is devastated and, rather than stay and face the pitying looks on all the faces of the people she has always known, she decides to head to the mountains and train to be a midwife and “catch babies”. Ben Locke is happy to find his way home to the mountains after a war that will leave him changed forever. He wants nothing more than to find his place at his mom’s table and be home again. Unfortunately, home has changed during his absence. His pa passed, his baby brother and sisters have grown up, and his mom has dealt with a hard world. Ben has changed also; war has a way of doing that to a man. When Ben and Francine meet in the mountains during a storm, each must set aside their preconceived notions and assist the other. From that moment on, they seem to be drawn to each other. They consistently fight their attraction even as it grows between them. When life continually presses them together, will they finally realize that they can offer each other the healing and hope they need? I loved this story. It told of grace, compassion, and love; both for each other and the love the Lord has for us. I would highly recommend it to anyone who enjoys historical fiction. I received a free copy of this story for my honest review from NetGalley. All opinions in it are my own.
beloved569 More than 1 year ago
The further I got in this book the harder it was to put down. I'd never heard of Frontier Nurses and learning about them provided an interesting backdrop to the story. Sometimes books like these would appeal more to someone in a similar profession but not so with this book. I felt like I could truly enjoy the story line as well as the uniqueness of the characters with no prior background knowledge. A few times I thought I knew what to expect in the plot but was pleasantly surprised when it took a different twist.
janesquires More than 1 year ago
A story of God's direction for both Francine and Ben. Francine had dreams of marrying Seth when he returned from war. But he found someone else. So Francine takes training to become a midwife and goes to Appalachian Mountains. Ben comes home from the war and finds Francine lost on her rounds to see patients. The mountains, creeks, moonshiners in hill, animals and more set during World War 5 years before I was born. I'd be like Francine getting lost. No map of use to me. I don't know East from West. An adventure for sure. You can pick up any Ann Gabhart book and find an adventure.
Sydney More than 1 year ago
Sometimes authors can take the “quaint” and the “back hills” of life in the Appalachian Mountains to a degree that becomes more of a parody or a stereotype, ruining the chance at a wonderful realness and grit to their stories. Ann Gabhart never lets this happen, and that is so nice to see. We discover the Appalachian way of life alongside Francine Howard, a nurse who has signed up for the Frontier Nursing Service Midwifery School. (Yes, this is based on things that really happened – very interesting bits of history here!) It’s 1945, and young men are returning from the war. Her own fiance, Seth Miller, is returning to Cincinnati, Ohio – but with his English war bride-to-be. The pressure mounts from Francine’s mother to get Seth back, even as her mother has drilled it into her for years that Francine is too tall, gangly, awkward, and just really not pretty at all. Instead of remaining in Cincinnati to feel the humiliation every day, she decides to turn her life towards something she is good at and an occupation that will benefit others. Ben Locke is one of the young men returning from war, to his home and family in the Appalachian Mountains. His father died while he was in Europe, so not only does Ben need to face this at home, but the fact his younger siblings aren’t so young anymore. And Ben himself has changed, of course. I like how this book isn’t focused on the romance aspect, but on the people we are getting to know and their lives and adventures. Romance happens naturally. Mrs. Gabhart allows for this growth in her book and that makes the story even more enjoyable and absorbing. **I was sent this copy from Revell Books in exchange for my fair and honest opinion.**
Heart2Heart More than 1 year ago
Here's another wonderful novel that takes readers back for some historical fiction that is based around facts about Frontier Nursing. In These Healing Hills by Ann H. Gabhart, Francine Howard defies her parents wishes and moves to the Appalachian Mountains of Hyden to learn about being a midwife to the people who have chosen to live away from the bigger towns. They have a different way to speaking, moonshine is still being processed and of course, people love their lifestyle but getting medical care can be time consuming especially with the terrain and often times weather. Francine is a compassionate woman who loves learning about their way of life, even though those she works under remind her to keep her level of professionalism and not get to friendly with the people she treats. But how can you not be drawn into their simple ways of life, where money isn't the thing that motivates them and they take joy in raising their families away from the big city! She would have never dreamed this was the life for her, hoping instead to remain at home waiting for the man she believed would return home to her from the war and they would marry and begin their own family. Instead, Seth Miller, found himself another woman from England and was bringing her home to meet his family and how could she begin to compete with that? So she took her broken heart and instead looked for ways to bring healing to others and catching babies, the Appalachian term for delivering newborns. She can't help but love each of the families she works with including Granny Em, an elderly woman who keeps to her way of life, handing out wisdom to Francine that flies in the face of the medical procedures she is being taught, including some weird medicinal home remedies using the plants she finds growing around the mountain. She just didn't expect to become part of the Locke family, treating their ailing young daughter, Sadie, as well as looking after their oldest daughter, Becca who is getting ready for her first child. Now that Ben Locke has returned home from the war, he can't help but fall for the one woman who would do more than heal the brokenness in their family but in his heart as well. I received These Healing Hills by Ann H. Gabhart compliments of Baker Publishing Group and NetGalley. I love this story revolving around the historical facts about was started Frontier Nursing in 1925, that readers can enjoy at the conclusion of this novel in the Reader's Note section. You would wonder how people who lived far from town would have their medical needs addressed and so a nursing program was conceived that trained women to ride horses into the heart of the mountains, bringing with them healing and midwife skills to the people of the Appalachian communities. This eliminated the worry of how to pay for medical care since no one was ever turned away and the maternal and infant mortality rates decreased dramatically when this program was introduced. Well worthy of 5 out of 5 stars in this reader's opinion.
wileysmSM More than 1 year ago
Once again, I really enjoy reading Ann Gabhart's novels because of her characters and story lines. This historical fiction novel is about Appalachian mountain life, talk, clothing, food, homes and expectations. I enjoyed meeting and admiring Fran's courage and sense of adventure. She's a visiting nurse riding a horse through remote trails. I'm a nurse, but this job Fran has is more than challenging to me! She needs total flexibility and tolerance for all personalities, learns mountain culture and food, and is so kind to each one. Fran's family and friends from home have misconceptions about mountain folk and she experiences the usual pressures and disapprovals. You'll enjoy meeting Ben, a former soldier and defender of is mountain family, and learn how kind and helpful he is to everyone. A lesson Fran taught me is that when you're heartbroken, go find something challenging. It doesn't have to be a mountain nurse, but whatever you choose, it will change your purpose and lift your spirit. She exemplifies the saying, "Home is where the heart is" as she adjusts and learns to love the mountain folks. I learned acceptance of new cultures and people from Ben and his family. You'll like this story and the history of visiting nurses and midwives.
Lane_Hill_House More than 1 year ago
Saturday, September 30, 2017 These Healing Hills by Ann H. Gabhart, © 2017 My Review: Absolutely a T*E*N. Loved this story. Not a bedtime story because it will beckon to keep you awake reading! Reading real slow so you don't run out of pages and then... there you are to the last sentence. I loved this story and its star, Nurse Howard, or is it Woody's older brother returned from the war? They both are necessary to learn about themselves. Francine Howard thought she was running from, not realizing she was running to. To find her true heart's desire ~ the people of Appalachia, and the mountain air, and... her first dog, Sarge. I loved how she discovered true importance; others ~ worthy of who she was becoming. All of the secondary characters become family! I hope many more adventures are honed in these healing hills. ***Thank you to author Ann H. Gabhart, and to the publisher for sending a print copy to me. This review was written in my own words. No other compensation beyond J*O*Y was received.***
ARS8 More than 1 year ago
These past couple of weeks I have been immersed in stories about the Appalachians and the people and their ways of life. These Healing Hills was the second story I have read and this time the time period was right after World War 2. Francine Howard has decided to leave her very familiar life in Cincinnati, Ohio to become a midwife in the Kentucky Appalachian area. She has decided to embrace a new dream after her long held ones were shattered when the love of her life decided to bring back another woman to be his bride. After four long years she decides to leave before he returns and get out from under the thumb of a very controlling mother. I liked Francine’s character and her fearlessness to try a new adventure and to carve out a new life for herself even though she was alone and heartbroken. She was not willing to just sit back and feel sorry for herself, but to get up and make something of her life. She enters the Frontier Nursing Service and actually finds that she connects with these mountain folks in such a way that it feels like home to her. Enter Ben Locke, who is returning from the war back to his home and family in the mountains. Ben has lived his whole life in the mountains and except for his military service did not know anything else. Now that he has seen how different the world is, the loss of his father, the burden of caring for his family, and trying to not remember the horrors of the war, Ben has a lot on his shoulders. He definitely feels that he is not ready to fall in love, especially not with an outsider. I enjoyed this story of two very different people working together and falling in love. I enjoyed learning more about the Appalachian mountain people and some of the different phrases that they used in their everyday language that was different than a ‘city’ person used. I also found the historical details about the nurses that did train there in the very real Frontier Nursing Service. A lot of these women were from England and were able to go back with the knowledge that they garnered. This was a piece of history that I did not previously know about before. I received a copy of this book for free. I was not required to post a positive review and all the views and opinions stated are my own.
Mocha-with-Linda More than 1 year ago
Ann H. Gabhart brings post WW2 Appalachia to life in this engaging and touching novel. As a nurse who has worked in home health, I was fascinated by the portrayal of the historic Frontier Nursing Service and in awe of the courage of those nurse-midwives as they faced the elements, superstitions, and often, downright suspicion in their attempts to provide care to women and their families deep in the Kentucky mountains. As always, Gabhart creates compelling characters that burrowed into my heart. With moments both tough and tender, some that brought a tear and others that made me grin, this poignant novel warmed my heart and kept me up until the last page was complete. A thoroughly satisfying read, These Healing Hills is the perfect fall read. Grab your copy today! Disclosure of Material Connection: I received a copy of this book from Revell Publishers for a blog tour. I was not required to write a review. The opinions I have expressed are my own. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s 16 CFR, Part 255: “Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising.”
SeasonsofGrace More than 1 year ago
This was such a beautiful story. Although it started out with a vaguely familiar feel, and I kept saying to myself, "it seems like I have read this before or seen this somewhere", it didn't end that way. Once the first chapter was through, the story took on its own makeup. The characters were wonderful and I felt like I was there right in the center of it all. Maybe because I live in the hills, I was able to picture the book in a realistic way. Of course, it was set a little further back in time. :-) I fell in love with the families, especially the Locke family and Granny Em. I loved the courage of the frontier nurses, especially Nurse Howard. The story focuses mostly on her, and she stands out above the rest, not just for her courage but for her willingness to love people and get involved in their lives at their level. She accepted who they were, where they were from, and wasn't there to change them, instead she was there to help them. Of course a little hint of romance between her and Ben, doesn't hurt the plot. Another favorite character for me was Sarge, the faithful snake killing Collie. I would highly recommend this book! I received my copy courtesy of Revell. I was not required in any way to review positively and all opinions are my own.
KrisAnderson_TAR More than 1 year ago
These Healing Hills by Ann H. Gabhart takes readers back to 1945 in Hyden, Kentucky. Francine Howard needs to get away from Cincinatti, Ohio before her former fiancé, Seth Miller returns home from the war with his English bride. Fran has a nursing degree, can ride a horse, and looking for an adventure so she signed up for the Frontier Nursing Service Midwifery School in the Appalachian Mountains. It will be a life style change for Fran, but she feels she will be something worthwhile. Ben Locke is returning home from the war. He cannot wait to return home to the mountains, but he has not thought of what he will do with his future. Ben is on his way home when he encounters a very lost Fran. They are immediately comfortable around each other, but they come from very different backgrounds. But Fran feels at home in the mountains and has fallen in love with the people. Is there a chance for a future between Ben and Fran? These Healing Hills is well crafted novel that has a unique plot. It was interesting reading about the Frontier Nursing Service Midwifery School in Hyden, Kentucky (it still exists) and the services their nurse midwives offer. I liked the characters and the beautiful setting. Woody Locke was my favorite character. He was refreshing and entertaining. Ann H. Gabhart is a descriptive writer which brings scenes to life (especially the mountains and the people who live there), but it also makes for a slower pace novel. I sometimes felt the author was a too verbose. The Christian element is prominent throughout the story and I liked the Christian attitude of the mountain people. I appreciated the spiritual wisdom that Fran’s grandmother (Grandma Howard) imparted on Fran. I am giving These Healing Hills 4 out of 5 stars. My favorite phrase was “Trust in the Lord with all thine heart”. The romance was sweet, but it was predictable. Some of the themes in the story are prayer, friendship, trust, listening to God, believing in God, and a person finding their path or place in life. I did feel that the ending was abrupt and felt incomplete. It would have been nice if the author had included an epilogue. Readers who enjoy rich, historical novels will appreciate These Healing Hills.
Laundry_Whispers More than 1 year ago
Do you remember that song ‘Froggie went a’courtin’ from childhood. You know the annoyingly repetitive song with a catchy tune that sears itself into your brain. It’s coming to you know isn’t it, un-huh. I’d forgotten about that song. Until this book. Sometimes it’s the little things that take a story from good to great or even from great to amazing. Uh-huh. OK, sorry I’ll stop that, u-huh. When this book came available from Revell, despite other books that stood at attention as well, I knew I needed to read it. Somehow I’ve scheduled a lot of 1940-something books this week. There’s something about WW2 era strong women that you lend itself to a good story. Fran is a strong woman, the man she thought she’d marry and grow old together while raising a family finds a new love in Brittan during the war so she takes off on an adventure with the Frontier Nursing Services in the Appalachian Mountains of Kentucky. She realizes that what she lost she didn’t need while finding herself and a life she never envisioned but one she can’t live without. Before picking up this book I’d never even heard of the Frontier Nursing Services. It was interesting to read about the woman who founded this organization to bring medical care to areas that are mostly not open to outsiders but also not in positions to be knowledgeable about issues such as hygiene or have access to things like prenatal care. The FNS is still active in the United Sates as well. Another new tidbit to file away to sound smart if given the opportunity to use it! Besides learning new things there was so much to love about this book. The characters drew you into their lives and their moments and felt like someone you really know, like in real life. While hanging out with people wished were neighbors I also wanted to live near their neighborhood. Not necessarily in it, I mean thermostatically controlled heat and running water are luxuries that I’m too lazy to live without. But. The beauty of the mountains and bubbling creeks and friends and neighbors who will stop you walking by and offer you pie or tea or coffee. How’s that for a run on sentence? I try Gabhart builds a story that literally wraps you into it’s embrace that, despite even the difficult things of life, you feel comforted. I’ve never read this author before but now I’ve got the library list pulled up because I need to read them all. I need to read stories full of faith so seamlessly woven into a story of struggle and triumph and comfort through it all. I need to know that faith conquers all, even when love doesn’t win. Even when it does win. I read because I get to live all the lives of all the people in all the places. But when all that is wrapped into something so real and so true I win. Every single time. With this book. I win. Uh-huh. I was provided a complimentary copy of this book by NetGalley, Revell. I was not compensated for this review and all thoughts and opinions expressed are my own. I was not required to write a positive review.
lolly-pops More than 1 year ago
i am a huge fan of Gabhart's cozy mysteries, but haven't read very many of her historicals. When I was offered a chance to review THESE HEALING HILLS I thought I'd give it a try. Recently my son graduated from A school for the Coast Guard and we drove through "these hills" and saw how massively huge they are. It gives new appreciation to these "pioneer" nurse midwives who traveled them on foot and on horseback to "catch babies" or see to sick women and children. The story is rather slow, easy to put down, but it was a nice peaceful read, a good escape. I identified completely with Fran, out of her element with the setting (she was a city girl) and getting used to hillbilly lingo, and traversing steep mountain trails on foot. And so many other dangers out where people are likely to shoot first and ask questions later. Ben is a sweet hero, battle worn, glad to be home, but mourning so much. he has a lot of hurts to work through and a lot on his plate with the death of his dad and his mom and siblings needing so much from him. I rooted for these characters. Granny Em was a lovely secondary character and some of the others added humor and drama as well. A great historical fiction read. Historical fiction loves will devour this book. I was given a copy free. All opinions are my own.
Virginiaw More than 1 year ago
This had to be one of my favorite books this year. I loved reading about the Appalachian Mountains and the people that live there. I had never heard about the Frontier Nursing Services and enjoyed learning about them. I loved the story of Francine and Ben and how they met. The romance was great. I received a copy of this book from the author for a fair and honest opinion that I gave of my own free will.
KatrinaEpperson More than 1 year ago
This story touched me both heart and soul. The author weaves words together that bring to life the mountains of eastern Kentucky and brings a wonderful tribute to Mary Breckinridge. The author does an excellent job of bringing her characters to life on the pages. I immediately liked Francine Howard. She was not one who focused on broken promises. No, she choose to start an adventure that would bring her new dreams and purpose. Her arrival in Hyden was not as she anticipated in the least. With no one there to meet her she was challenged with climbing the mountain to Wendover, the school for Frontier Nursing. This showed her determination and drive to accomplish her dream. Ben Locke is a young man who had his dream of becoming a doctor cut short by World War ll and service to his country. With the end of the war Ben heads back home to eastern Kentucky. While serving his much loved father passed away so his homecoming was filled with many memories of days gone by. He felt a great responsibility to care for his mother and siblings so again he puts his dreams on hold. For me, this was a one setting book. I was immediately pulled into the story and didn't put it down until the last page was turned. It has elements of humor, adventure, faith, second chances, trust, and love. I loved everything about this book and would recommend it to anyone. **I received this book from the publisher as part of their book bloggers program. I was not required to write a positive review. All thoughts and opinions are my own.
BH More than 1 year ago
These Healing Hills, written by Ann H. Gabhart, is the first book I've read by this author and hopefully not the last. What an interesting book on the Frontier Nursing Service in the hills of Kentucky. The nurses were sent to the Appalachian Mountain trails to help the sick and "catch" babies. Loved the way that the author was able to help the readers hear how the "hillbillies" spoke. I could hear them clearly, see the land in which she traveled, and feel the air in my face at times as I read. Lovely style! My favorite character...Francine, of course. She was such a sweet young city girl who had a heart for the less fortunate without treating them like they were below her. Although it was expected of the nurses that they were not to talk to the people about religion, politics, or was evident by Francine's life that she had a relationship with the Lord and was taught from a young age to depend on Him through her grandmother's teachings. I found a lot of golden nuggets throughout the story that will stick with me. I'm hoping this is the start of a series as I'd love to know what happens with Francine, Ben and his family and even Granny Em! Lovely read! I was given a copy of this book by the publishing house. All thoughts and comments in this review are my own.
Becky5 More than 1 year ago
Some books are merely written and enjoyed. Others flow with a rhythm that gets into your soul,threatening to stay for a long time to come. Granny Em, in These Healing Hills, by Ann H. Gabhart, certainly feels the mountains have a rhythm if only one can stop, hear, and feel it. This same World War II mountain life of Appalachian Kentucky slowly meanders through my imagination, wrapping its tendrils around me and drawing me quickly into Francine's new world. Francine is making her escape to the hills of Kentucky to practice midwifery. She is fleeing the return of an unfaithful boyfriend from the army. Although the side of the Appalachians and the protagonist's profession differ, this novel is like a refreshing mountain stream, bringing sweet memories of Catherine Marshall's Christy to mind. You will enjoy meeting talkative Woody, dour-faced Betty, Ben, who is unsure of his place on the mountain, and of course Francine, whose propensity for getting lost is well-known. Such great, complex primary and secondary characters. If you loved Christy the book or the tv show, you will not want to miss this haunting tale of simple mountain life! A couple of favorite quotes: "I've found you can overcome a great many imagined dangers in this world. Generally, while we're imagining one thing, a real difficulty we haven't even considered pops up." "...And the good Lord heard everything, whether you said it out loud or just let it sneak through your head." "When things are the most confused in our lives, that's when the Lord can work best." I received a complimentary copy of this book from NetGalley and the publisher. I am freely leaving this review, for which opinions I am solely responsible.
Jaquelyn More than 1 year ago
It was so interesting seeing how people in the mountains used to live. Not only did they rely on the land to feed them, but they had their own way of talking. I never thought about how difficult it would be to get medical help and how it would be to not have a car to take you to a hospital. Being a Frontier nurse would have been a very difficult and uncomfortable job. I loved seeing how Francine was determined to help those in need. The mountains sounded beautiful and dangerous at the same time. These Healing Hills follows Francine while she makes a big move from the life she used to know. War has a way of changing people. For Francine she thought her life was planned out. Once the war ended she would marry her soldier and have a family all her own. Before any of that could happen, she received a letter informing her that he had fallen for someone else. Deciding to make a difference along with a change of scenery, she joins the Frontier Nursing Service. One of the families Francine is in charge of helping are the Lockes. Ben Locke is ready to be home. War changes a man, and he looks forward to getting back to those he loves the most. With the beautiful mountains of home, also comes danger. Can Ben and Francine wait to find out what God has planned for their lives? I would recommend this book to anyone who enjoys Historical Fiction. It's always fun being taken to another place and time. Gabhart made me appreciate how far medicine has come, and also how there were those who lived to help the helpless. I received a copy of this book and was in no way forced to post a positive review. All opinions expressed are my own.
kp68 More than 1 year ago
These Healing Hills is the latest from Ann H. Gabhart. You will meet Francine Howard on the opening pages of this tale. She suffers the loss of her fiance, Seth, when she learns he has found someone new, after serving in the war overseas. Now Francine must find a new purpose for her life. She decides to leave her job, as a nurse in Cincinnati, Ohio, and join the Frontier Nursing Service in the rugged hills of eastern Kentucky! You will walk the hills with Francine, as she attempts to learn the people and the area of her new home. She soon meets Woody Locke, the youngest son in the Locke family, and definitely the most talkative! Woody definitely helps Francine learn more about her new surroundings. The Locke family soon rejoices when their eldest son, Ben, returns safely from his time in the war. Now Ben must figure out what to do next. Will he stay with his family or find a new path outside his life in the mountains? It is interesting to see how God works in both Francine and Ben's lives to point them toward His plans for their lives. Seth shows up in the midst of Francine's new world and further complicates her decision!