“Gilbert Morris's historical novel Deep in the Heart is a tale of the Old West, the first in a series known as the Lonestar Legacy. It focuses on Mrs. Jerusalem Ann Hardin, a strong homemaker who lives in Arkansas Territory during the 1830s.
“Jerusalem's husband Jake leaves home for long periods of time in order to trap furs, leaving his wife to make do as best she can. When Clay Toliferro, Jake's friend and partner, shows up on the scene, Jerusalem is glad to have a man around to help, but her loyalties are tested, especially as she begins to suspect Jake has been unfaithful to her. Finally, Clay tells Jerusalem that Jake has moved to Texas, and Jerusalem packs up the entire family and sets out to trek across the western frontier.
“Morris's narrative follows the Hardin family from the time they meet Clay Toliferro in 1831 to their receiving word of the fall of the Alamo in 1836. This is a substantial span of time, and the author's jumps in time are sometimes startling, although this is never a serious obstacle to enjoying the book. The story's primary focus is on the relationship between Jerusalem and Clay, a relationship that develops into a wonderful friendship, with hints of romance. The portrayal of Jerusalem as a strong, dedicated Christian frontier woman is well done, and contrasts nicely to Clay's relaxed, less moral cowboy lifestyle. Surrounding the two is large host of other characters, mostly Hardin family members as well as a number of close friends they meet along the way. Despite the number of characters involved, Morris manages to develop them all fairly well, and keep them all distinct and real.
“Jerusalem has constant struggles as she tends to her ailing mother, raises her children, and sets out to find her husband. Clay supports her as much as he can despite the many disagreements they have. They form a dynamic team that survives a wagon journey, two encounters with hostile Indians, and the forming of a small farm under the noses of the adversarial Mexican government.
“Jerusalem is clearly a strong woman. We see her dedication to her husband as she moves her entire family to Texas to find him, and how she responds to Jake when she finally discovers his activities. We see Jerusalem's compassion as she offers aid to strangers whom she meets on her journey. Perhaps equally important, we see Jerusalem's flaws. She is stubborn, sometimes short-tempered, and surprisingly needy for support. She is never a preachy or brash Christian, although her faith plays an important role in all of her decisions.
“This is a fine piece of historical fiction. It encompasses the beginning of the Mexican-American War in a compelling personal narrative that moves quickly and draws readers in. This is good reading for anyone who likes a character-driven story.” -- Nathaniel Chen, Christian Book Previews.com
It's 1835 and life is difficult, especially for Jerusalem Ann and her children as they struggle to maintain their Arkansas farm and avoid bank foreclosure. She can't count on her husband, Jake, who stays gone "hunting" for long periods of time. All seems lost until a mysterious stranger named Clay shows up, "sent by her husband" to help her. Once they are back on their feet, she feels she must sell her farm and move to Texas to find her husband.
Held strong by her faith, this strong woman meets with heartache, imprisonment, Comanche raids, kidnappings, and more. She finds herself with the likes of Sam Houston, Sam Bowie, Stephen Austin, and even the Mexican President, Santa Ana, in the effort to free Texas from Mexican rule. With the great battle of the Alamo as a backdrop to the drama and intrigue of her personal life, Deep in the Heart will satisfy fiction readers of any genre.