About the Book
Book: One Hundred Valleys
Author: Bonnie Leon
Genre: Historical Romance
Release Date: March 15, 2020
Accompanied by her Uncle Jonathon she sets out for the Oregon Territory in search of answers and hoping for a renewed relationship with her father. When tragedy strikes, she confronts the terrifying challenge of completing her quest alone. Faced with few options, she entrusts her life to a mountain man named Jacob Landon who agrees to transport her to a small settlement in Southern Oregon called Deer Creek, a place also known as the Land of One Hundred Valleys.
Emmalin is not prepared for the hardships of life in the Oregon wilderness. Each day presents a new challenge. Newfound friends, including the reserved Jacob Landon, come alongside to help her adapt and she gradually finds her way. Yet, she feels out of place. Should she brave the arduous journey back to Philadelphia and the life she once knew or remain and hope for something better in the Oregon wilderness?
About the Author
Bonnie Leon is the author of twenty-two novels, including the recently released Return to the Misty Shore, the popular Alaskan Skies and bestselling The Journey of Eleven Moons. Bonnie’s books are being read internationally and she hears from readers in Australia, Europe, Poland, and even Africa. She enjoys speaking for women’s groups and mentoring up and coming authors.
Bonnie and her husband, Greg, live in Southern Oregon. They have three grown children and seven grandchildren.
More from Bonnie
Why this story?
In the spring of 1980 my husband and I, our two-year-old son, and our infant daughter left city life in Washington state and moved to Southern Oregon. We gave up our community of friends and family along with my husband’s reliable and well-paying job. Our friends thought we were crazy, but we were determined that Oregon was where we belonged. We were scared but not deterred.
I think the change in my own life as a young woman had a lot to do with why I wrote this story of Emmalin Hammond. To be sure, Emmalin’s level of difficulty and danger is distinctly different than mine, but there are similarities. We both experienced adventures, joy, and, yes, even danger.
Oregon has been my home for forty years now, and I am glad my husband and I made the decision to move here. We’ve had a good life in this wild and beautiful country. Sometimes I wonder about the women who made that choice during the nineteenth century. Emmalin set out on her harrowing journey to Oregon in the spring of 1855. Many who began that journey did not make it across the plains and deserts of America.
When I put down roots in Douglas County, Oregon I was thrilled to be here, but the changes weren’t all easy. The old farmhouse we lived in had more broken windows than intact ones. It was mouse infested. The plumbing needed major repair. And yet I loved it. The countryside was lush and green, and the rolling hillsides were dotted with farm animals, wildlife, and broad-limbed oak trees. There were wild blackberries sprawling along the farm’s fences and fresh fruit in our orchard. It looked much the same as the Oregon Emmalin discovered in my story, One Hundred Valleys.
I loved hard work and spent a lot of time splitting logs for our only heat source—a wood burning stove—felling trees on our new property, and working alongside my husband in our vegetable garden.
I had run-ins with things like poison oak and skunks, but that did not dampen my enthusiasm as a new Oregonian. I loved picking wild blackberries, fishing the high mountain lakes, hiking mountain trails, and fishing the North Umpqua river. I cherished those days as a farm wife and mother. Those were the best years of my life. I have never regretted our move to the beautiful land of one hundred valleys in Southern Oregon.
I am thankful for the early explorers who challenged the wilderness in the Oregon Territory more than a century ago. It is their courage and determination that made it possible for me and my family to live and thrive in this beautiful place.
“Her father was her only chance at a new beginning—if she could find him.”
Growing up, I was an avid reader and fan of “Little House on the Prairie” and anything about pioneers, with a special fondness for Oregon Trail stories. Although I’ve broadened my reading horizons since then, the nineteenth century will always be my first love, and I remain on the lookout for opportunities to read and review historical fiction whenever possible. From the first time I glimpsed the cover of “One Hundred Valleys”, I knew I had to read it; I didn’t even read the synopsis, although I was thrilled when I found out it was set in Oregon in the mid-1850s. No matter how many historical fiction books I read, I never grow tired of them, and this book is a great example of diversity within the genre.
From the first page of “One Hundred Valleys”, it became apparent that this was going to be a different kind of pioneer adventure. Author Bonnie Leon creates a unique story by merging common elements in a distinctive way. Rather than an Oregon Trail account, although details of the journey are scattered throughout the narrative, Emmalin Hammonds’ story opens in Oregon City after she and her Uncle Jonathon have made the trek. Moving on from a tragic past in search of the father she had been told was dead, Emmalin ends up making the last leg of the journey alone with a hired guide named Jacob Landon. For Emmalin, the travails of the journey are becoming more and more overwhelming as she finds everything stripped away from her.
Emmalin’s character is interesting in and of itself. I have to admit that initially I found myself unimpressed with her, and at times downright annoyed. However, Leon writes her this way for a reason. Back in Philadelphia, Emmalin was a member of the upper class and led a privileged life, which made her completely unprepared to live in a rather uncivilized wilderness. She seems quick to judge and complain, but then she surprises readers with her strength and determination. As her newfound friend Margaret tells her about courage: “It’s being afraid and trusting God enough to do whatever it is He’s called you to do that shows how brave you are.” She slowly softens her heart toward people and things that seem absurd compared with her old life, including the issue regarding the Indians, whom she has previously considered to be lower class. Her journey demonstrates how we all tend to categorize people, yet to God none of those things matter; He loves us all and yearns for us to enter into a personal relationship with Him. As Emmalin’s time of spiritual deliverance unfolds, it is worth noting that no matter how far away she felt God was, He never left.
I received a complimentary copy of this book through Celebrate Lit and was not required to post a favorable review. All opinions are my own.
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