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June 9, 2019

Caitlin's Song by John A. Heldt ~ a Review

by Donna Huber

You can always count on John A. Heldt for a sweet, light read full of heart. It was exactly the kind of book I needed for heading back to the stresses of the day job after my vacation. Caitlin's Song is the perfect story for sitting on the porch or swinging in the hammock on a beautiful summer evening.

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Caitlin's Song
May 2019; ebook (530 pages); romance
I haven't read any of the other books in the Carson Chronicles series, which Caitlin's Song is book 4, but that may be my fault (more of the series might be buried on my e-reader). But like all of Heldt's stories that I have read, it can be read as a standalone. Sure there are some intertwining storylines from the previous books it isn't necessary to have read them. This story focuses on Caitlin, the youngest girl of the Carson siblings.

It is always difficult to define the genre that Heldt's books. The majority of the story is set in the past. But it isn't fully historical fiction, though the historical elements are done well. There's time travel, but it isn't science fiction. Time travel is just the mechanism of sending the characters to the past, but the science isn't the focus at all. It's not fantasy either (the other possibility for time travel novels) as everything is very realistic. I guess romance would be the genre that it is most likely to fall into as the characters always find love in the past.

I don't usually care much for cookie cutter storylines. Even though Heldt's stories follow a predictable pattern, I find it comforting. I probably couldn't binge read his books, but for the occasional read, it is enjoyable and at times just what I need.

Caitlin's Song seemed all set to follow the set pattern I expect when reading one of his books. But then suddenly my jaw literally drops open as a shocking piece of information is revealed. I expected to read interesting tidbits of history and enjoy the sweet moments of new love. Usually, the biggest dangers are the time travelers being discovered or missing their opportunity to return to their own time. But much more is on the line in this book.

That is not so in Caitlin's Song. I gather that the whole Carson Chronicles series is a bit more suspenseful than the previous books I've read from Heldt. The main plot that runs through the series is the kids have traveled back in time to find their parents who took a trip to the past for their anniversary but did not return at the appointed time. With each book, the siblings and the parents (who discover what the kids did - I'm not sure how as that is probably mentioned in an earlier novel) come close to finding one another but don't quite manage it.

Along the way, the siblings, one by one, find love. Only one sibling remains unattached - Cody, the twin brother of Caitlin. Presumably, he gets his turn in the next book.

I really liked all the siblings and would like to go back to read the other tales in the series.

It was fun to experience college in 1963 along with Caitlin and Cody. I'm not sure I would want to spend time studying and taking tests if I traveled to the past, but it was an interesting time to be on a college campus so maybe I would for the rest of the experience. The major historical moment focused on in this novel is the Cuban Missile Crisis. Maybe because the story is set in Colorado, there isn't much mention of the Civil Right Movement. The opportunities for females is subtly highlighted through interactions. Like Caitlin being overlooked when asked the class is asked to answer questions and instead the professor calls on her male classmates. Also, the rules between the male and female dorms seem to differ as well. I would have liked to have seen a bit more interaction with the Calculus Cowgirls, but to streamline the story I see what it wasn't more than a passing mention.

I liked the characters Caitlin and Cody befriend on campus. Because of the bombshell that their parents discover in 1972, every interaction that Caitlin and Cody have with their classmates has a film of tension coloring the relationships for the reader. Is this the moment, or will their parents succeed in changing the course of history?

Changing history has always been a side discussion in Heldt's books. Usually, the characters are careful not to reveal too much about the outcome of current events or actively change history. In this book, one set of characters accidentally reveal information that could rewrite history books while another actively set out to change history that will have a major impact on their family. This minor plot thread adds another layer of suspense that I don't remember feeling in previous books I've read by Heldt.

I really enjoyed Caitlin's Song. It is a sweet, feel-good type of story that is perfect for summer reading. I encourage you to add this to your beach bag this summer. (It reads rather easily so you could read a few books in this series while on vacation).

Buy Caitlin's Song at Amazon

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Donna Huber is an avid reader and natural encourager. She is the founder of Girl Who Reads and the author of how-to marketing book Secrets to a Successful Blog Tour.

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