Sunday, May 12, 2013

When Love Calls by Lorna Seilstad, ©2013

May the Lord repay you for what you have done.
May you be richly rewarded by the Lord, the
God of Israel, under whose wings you have come
to take refuge.
   --Ruth 2:12 NIV
April 1908 ~ Des Moines, Iowa
The Gregory sisters' parents have passed away three months earlier from influenza. Hannah has come home from law school at Drake University to care for her younger sisters, Charlotte and Tessa, as their guardian. While leaving the grocer, she notices an advertisement:

   The switchboard operator has a mis-
sion in life--to serve the public.
   Quickness, intelligence, accuracy, and
courtesy are essential qualifications, as
are courage to handle emergencies and
the ability to keep one's presence of
   Candidates between sixteen and
twenty-five years of age must possess
excellent eyesight and hearing.
   Patience, a good disposition, excellent
character, and a quiet and obedient na-
ture are a must.
   Only candidates who meet these strin-
gent guidelines need apply.
Hmm... "...quiet and obedient..."

As supper is ending, there is a knock at the door. A legal representative of the bank is there to ask if Hannah is aware their father had taken out a second mortgage on their farm? He has come to give them notice of foreclosure and auction of personal property to go toward the mortgage, with one week to vacate. Lincoln Cole said as no payment has been made in the three months since her father's passing, there is no other recourse.

Hannah is among two dozen applicants who have come to interview as "Hello Girls" telephone switchboard operators. She is chosen along with her new friend, Rosie, and they begin the rigorous training that includes no contact with any males during their two-week course. Their instructor stops in at church to make sure they are attending and speaks to the pastor to verify the reference given. On one end of Hannah's pew is her childhood friend, and on the other is the young lawyer. What a day for them to be bookends!

What a fun, fun, book! I give it an eight out of ten ~ minus two points for not continuing on!! But... will certainly look forward to Charlotte and Tessa's stories in the next two novels.

Hannah is a take-charge, headstrong young woman. Finishing law school has now come to an end for her as she focuses on caring for her teenaged sisters. She supports them to reach their dreams. Tessa, the youngest at fourteen, is quite dramatic and outspoken. She has become my favorite and I look forward to her appearing. Her aspired dreams change by the moment. I learned a lot from her about preparing the soil for transplanting tea roses. Charlotte enjoys preparing their meals. Her dream is to attend cooking school and open her own restaurant. She has her first beau, and his outlook is different from her own. I liked how George revealed his own character without exposure from someone else.
1908 REO Classic Car
REO Gentleman's Roadster ~ two-cylinder engine, 45 mph with top, side curtains, storm front, and back bench seating ~ produced only in 1908 by REO Motor Car Company ~ 1910 switched to four-cylinder
How would you like to be picked up in this fancy buggy?? Aunt Sam has ordered it for Lincoln as his birthday gift. Lincoln Cole is a young attorney whose firm is projecting he will follow in the footsteps of his father, who was in the senate before he passed away. Regardless of his future standing, Lincoln takes on a case for justice-sake and not political appearance ~ and his interest in Hannah ~ who has a delightful entry in chapter one at the grocer and again when she is "quite able to get in a rowboat by herself." You are going to love the development of "getting to know each other" of these likeable protagonists.
"After last year's strike, six telegraphers four men and two women were fired and blacklisted by Western Union management because of their union involvement."
   --When Love Calls, 56
The research of the turmoil affecting Western Union and union supporters was very well demonstrated in this historical fiction, my favorite genre. I am glad outspoken Hannah was kept safe!
Lincoln and Hannah climb the stairway above this inner dome to view Des Moines when they come to do research at the State Law Library inside the capitol

Remember adventure-propelled Hannah? She takes Lincoln beyond his quest of showing her Des Moines through the windows ~ see that tall outside dome, with the walkway and railing around it? He hadn't ventured out that far!
The windows of the cupola provide a tremendous volume of light to illuminate the rotunda inside.

I like the true-to-life story that flows so beautifully. I really enjoyed it. Lincoln has the input of his aunt Sam, and she is delightful when she comes to visit from St. Paul. Full of her own opinion as well, she is a wonderful addition to the story. I liked how the inner striving for each of these sisters was resolved. They find their own place while leaning on each other during their mourning process. They are remarkable in listening and following through in caring for each other. They have had good training and biblical example. I may have overused the word "delightful" but indeed this is exactly how I would describe this wholesome story of values in business and relationships, overflowing from In God We Trust.

When romance calls, will she choose to answer?
When Love Calls
The Gregory Sisters series ~ Book 1,
 May 2013

Both Hannah and Lincoln are interested in rings-- only she wants hers at the end of a receiver and he wants his on her finger.

Hannah Gregory is good at many things, but that list doesn't include following rules. So when she is forced to apply for a job as a telephone switchboard operator to support her two sisters, she knows it won't be easy. "Hello Girls" must conduct themselves according to strict―and often bewildering―rules.

~* No talking to the other girls.
~* No chatting with callers.
~* No blowing your nose without first raising your hand.
~* And absolutely no consorting with gentlemen while in training.

Meanwhile, young lawyer Lincoln Cole finds himself in the unfortunate position of having to enforce the bank's eviction of the three Gregory girls from their parents' home. He tries to soften the blow by supporting them in small ways as they settle into another home. But fiery Hannah refuses his overtures and insists on paying back every cent of his charity.

When one of Hannah's friends finds himself on the wrong side of a jail cell, Hannah is forced to look to Lincoln for help. Will it be her chance to return to her dreams of studying law? And could she be falling in love? With historic details that bring to life the exciting first decade of the twentieth century, Lorna Seilstad weaves a charming tale of camaraderie and companionship that blossoms into love. Readers will get lost in this sweet romance and will eagerly look forward to championing each sister's dreams.

Lorna Seilstad
A history buff, antique collector, and freelance graphic designer, Lorna Seilstad is the author of Making Waves, A Great Catch, and The Ride of Her Life. A former high school English and journalism teacher, she has won several online writing contests and is a member of American Christian Fiction Writers. Lorna lives in Council Bluffs, Iowa, with her husband. Find out more at

September 2010 ~ Book 1, Lake Manawa Summers
May 2011 ~ Book 2, Lake Manawa Summers
May 2012 ~ Book 3, Lake Manawa Summers

A Non-Fiction Adventure
"In college, I was once stopped for armed robbery. Apparently, the getaway car used in a bank robbery matched my enormous '73 Dodge Polara. As I traveled through Kansas on my way home from college for Christmas, the highway patrol pulled me over and approached with their guns drawn. They let me go, but were surprised there were two cars like mine still on the road."
    --Lorna, website Q&A

***Thank you to Revell Blog Tour Network Historical Fiction for inviting me to be part of the book tour for When Love Calls by Lorna Seilstad and for sending me a copy of the book. No other compensation was received.***


  1. Thank you for blessing me with your kinds words, Kathleen, and for all your hard work on putting this beautiful post together! You made my day.

    1. Thank you, Lorna. I really enjoyed your novel. Lessons to be learned. God has His best for us, better than our striving. I am looking forward to the next two sister stories! Kathleen ~ Lane Hill House