The Lightkeeper's Bride by Colleen Coble is the second novel in the historical Mercy Falls trilogy.
While some series books may skip a significant time period or even a generation, it appears this book picks up just a year or so after The Lightkeeper's Daughter. Although the town of Mercy Falls remains key to the story, the action centers around different characters - the new lightkeeper Will Jesperson and young telephone operator Kate Russell. As Kate connects a call, she overhears a threatening conversation between Eliza Bulmer, a lady of questionable reputation, and a stranger. When the Eliza fails to hang up and Kate cannot get a voice response, she personally runs to the woman's home. There she finds Will Jersperson has just entered the home and is holding an abandoned infant. When authorities are called, Will maintains he was sent there by his private investigator brother to obtain some crucial information regarding recent pirate activity in the area. Will is not a suspect in Eliza's disappearance, but everyone, including Kate, thinks it is strange that a young bachelor willingly offers to take responsibility for the baby. And for Kate, it all becomes more confusing when her father appears to attempt suicide, her long forgotten birth mother appears, and the woman who raised her is stricken with small pox. Then both her adoptive parents begin to push an arranged courtship with a young businessman in the town.
Like Lightkeeper's Daughter, this novel has plenty of red herrings and suspenseful turns. Will is the solid grounded character, often so essential in a Christian novel. Kate is a lively mixture of a modern, evolving independent woman, but one who still carries a strong sense of duty to her parents and her social position. I liked this quick read, but often found myself backtracking between paragraphs because scenes changed quickly and I either missed the transition sentences or there weren't any.
Also, I didn't quite buy the character Philip, who is Will's younger brother. Unlike Will, Philip is rather irresponsible and ready to try anything. He is supposedly investigating the recent piracy in hopes of earning the reward, but throughout the story he disappears and Will is the one who investigates. At first I thought he might turn out to be one of the robber gang, or all the subterfuge about his motives was a red herring. To me, his behavior just seemed odd.