* Names have been changed to protect the fictional and not-so-fictional.
Julie wants to know: What obstacles do you see her having to overcome in order to fall in love? What would this look like?
Margaret's biggest obstacle will likely be her guilt over what she sees as her part in her father's death. If they hadn't been out riding, then he wouldn't have had the accident and bled to death. How she comes to terms with the guilt and grief will determine when she will be open to love or not.
People who are so guilty and torn over something they feel they did or did not do rarely see themselves as worthy of happiness or love. They might think they have nothing to recommend them, or that something good shouldn't come their way. Low self-esteem would be the modern term for this, and when you consider the tragic origin of her feelings, it more than makes sense.
So how to overcome her guilt in the pages of the novel? One way would be for the burgeoning medical hero to acknowledge something he might could have done differently...or more education or training he might could have had...that would have given her father a different outcome. Perhaps her mother tells her that her father knew he had a blood disorder but took no precautions against it (the equivalent of taking blood thinner or coagulator for that day in time). Maybe she discovers that her father's saddle was tampered with or something.
Finding a way for someone else to show her undeserved grace would make for an interesting subplot, parallel to the main character arc for Margaret. If she could get a glimpse of God's forgiveness, it might could make a difference for her to accept something freely given though thoroughly undeserved. John wrote in 1 John 4:18, "There is no fear in love. But perfect love drives out fear, because fear has to do with punishment. The one who fears is not made perfect in love." And what is guilt if it's not fear? Fear of punishment, for sure, but also fear of being found lacking, of not measuring up.
I imagine her mother's infatuation with another man will be hard to overcome, as well. If her mother and father were in love when her father died, the amount of time you allow to pass before the mother becomes interested in someone else will make a big difference on how jaded Margaret's opinion about love might be. If her mother moves right to another man, then Margaret might conclude that true love doesn't exist, for how could it if her mother could so easily dismiss it and move on? An early infatuation might undermine her parents' role model of love for Margaret, so that's something to think about as far as a time line goes.
Another major obstacle she would have in accepting the love of the hero would be her belief that he definitely had a hand in her father's death. I imagine she pretty much has nothing but disdain--if not hate--for the man initially. But maybe she sees the hero taking such strides to learn from his mistakes (if there were any) and wanting to overcome his lack of skills because he saw what it did to her. I think it would go a long way if she were to learn that her grief was his impetus to be a better, more skillful doctor.
Thanks for writing in, Julie. I wish you the absolute best with this novel! Let me know when it hits the shelves. If you have anymore questions or want clarification, feel free to use the comment section below.