on Nov. 9, 2011 :
Protect the Heart is a sweet, old fashioned love story on several levels. The most obvious is that it takes place during what I assumed to be WWII. The second is that much of the romance builds through letters. The main love story involves two people who were barely aquatinted before the war moved them physically apart, and started their journey emotionally together.
The majority of the non-letter narrative takes place back in the small town that the characters live in. While in no way minimizing the horror of the battlefield, this book focus more on the hardships and the struggles of those left at home. Parents without enough help to run the farms, wives without support from husbands not coming home, and babies being born without fathers. This approach really drew me in and added a lot of depth to the story.
Maura and Abraham are virtual strangers at the beginning of the story, and honestly I didn’t expect the transition from there to a believable romance to feel natural. Yet, the few letters they exchange, and the link they seem to hold to the way things once were, to home and to stability, make the character’s emotional attachments feel not only natural, but inevitable. Both character’s own nature, and conviction to rise above their dire circumstances make them a perfect match, and the transition from strangers to beloved from across the oceans does in fact work.
Even though the ending is fairly expected, the journey is such a pleasant one, full of enough drama and surprise to make this a story well worth reading.
(reviewed 8 months after purchase)
on Aug. 5, 2010 :
"Protect the Heart" offers a sweet, endearing look at life, love, and heartbreak during war time. Set between Idaho and a war zone, four young adults exchange a series of letters which are raw, full of longing, hope, and gives glimpses into their complex lives.
The novel opens with Cameron giving Abraham a ride into town before they head out to join the military and go to war. Cameron meets Maura and asks her to marry him. She declines, not wanting to be a "war" bride. Abraham visits Sadie. He also declines her advances. Cameron and Sadie nurse their heartbreak by spending the night together.
After the men leave, Maura works hard at the widowed/unmarried mothers and injured soldiers home. She finds the work rewarding, yet tiring. On her off time, Maura writes letters to Cameron to keep his spirits up.
Soon, Sadie seeks out Maura and confesses to her that she's pregnant. Maura assumes Abraham is the father and writes to him. Abraham is surprised to get a letter from her. The misunderstanding is quickly straightened out and Sadie begins writing Cameron. They plan their future. Through the exchange of letters, Cameron, Sadie, Maura, and Abraham really get to know one another, as does the reader. War, however, is never predictable and it will take the four young adults down a path they didn't expect.
The story flows well. Hunsaker's literary voice and writing style shines in the exchange of letters between Cameron, Sadie, Maura, and Abraham.
Hunsaker uses old-fashioned terms to describe the setting in Idaho, but refers to dirt, dust, and Humvees, (more modern terms) when referring to Cameron and Abraham's setting. Where and when the story happens is hard for the reader to pin down.
The characterization is wonderful and really pulls the reader in. Each character has highs and lows, traits to be admired, and flaws that will break the reader's heart. Cameron loves life and wants to do the right thing even when it's hard. He joins the military and admits his paternity. Sadie has a good heart and is a big help to Maura, but her mistake makes life tougher for her. Abraham is the strong, silent type, but not as articulate with his feelings as Cameron is. Maura has strong will. She cares for everyone, but puts her own needs and wants aside to help others.
The story is sweet for romance readers with only kisses exchanged between the couples. "Protect The Heart" is a story about hardship, endurance, and the power of love.
(reviewed 48 days after purchase)