Shadows of the Past: A Novel by O. L. Brown is the sequel to Northern Lights, a mesmerizing story that follows Randell Cordell, a man who left his wife, eloping with another woman twenty years ago, as he returns home. Now, recently discharged from the United States Army, he is determined to redeem himself and it can only happen in the city where his life took a shameful turn: Blackberry. He wants to make things right this time, but the last thing he has expected has been to meet Stella, the woman he ran off with and a little orphan girl who instantly captures his heart. The paths that Stella Cunningham and Randell follow towards healing and redemption are surprising and filled with unexpected twists.
O. L. Brown’s novel is poignant and it opens with the protagonist returning to Blackberry. The descriptions are terrific and the author’s gift for writing compelling imagery shines through the story. The fully drawn characters, from Randell to Stella, to Captolia Adams, to Beth, and the deceased Louise, will captivate readers. These characters are rock-solid and they evolve naturally within realistic situations. O. L. Brown fills the scenes with strong descriptions and moving moments, weaving threads of relationships that give readers a strong sense of place and family. The personal struggles of the characters as well as the energy that pulls the key characters together are exciting elements that strengthen the emotional reach of the story. One of the moments I particularly enjoyed is when Stella kneels beside Louise Cordell’s grave, uttering words that come from a sacred place in her heart: “And Louise, I’ve fallen in love with him. I’m in love with him, and this little orphan girl! I . . . I would like to marry him, and the two of us will be the parents of this little girl. Can . . . can I marry him?” The prose is exquisite; the characters are unforgettable, and the endearing romance melds with heartwarming themes of family, love, and redemption to create a delightful reading experience. The plot in Shadows of the Past: A Novel is deftly handled and loaded with suspenseful moments.