21 January 2014

Carolina Gold by Dorothy Love

Goodreads | Amazon
The war is over, but at Fairhaven Plantation, Charlotte's struggle has just begun.

Following her father’s death, Charlotte Fraser returns to Fairhaven, her family’s rice plantation in the South Carolina Lowcountry. With no one else to rely upon, smart, independent Charlotte is determined to resume cultivating the superior strain of rice called Carolina Gold. But the war has left the plantation in ruins, her father’s former bondsmen are free, and workers and equipment are in short supply.

To make ends meet, Charlotte reluctantly agrees to tutor the two young daughters of her widowed neighbor and heir to Willowood Plantation, Nicholas Betancourt.  Just as her friendship with Nick deepens, he embarks upon a quest to prove his claim to Willowood and sends Charlotte on a dangerous journey that uncovers a long-held family secret, and threatens
everything she holds dear.

Inspired by the life of a 19th-century woman rice farmer, Carolina Gold pays tribute to the hauntingly beautiful Lowcountry and weaves together mystery, romance, and historical detail, bringing to life the story of one young woman’s struggle to restore her ruined world.

Dorothy Love’s Carolina Gold caught my attention, since the story is told from the perspective of a Southern female rice planter. Born and raised in what would be considered the North, throughout my years of education the focus tended to be on the Northern perspective of life during the Restoration, post-Civil War, and I never truly learned how the Southerners dealt with the experiences and challenges of the time. Without focusing too much on the politics of the characters, Love does a great job of exploring the different roles and interactions of Southern society at the time and I greatly appreciated the change in perspective. Though the story started off a bit slowly, I would definitely recommend this novel to anyone with an interest in the post-Civil War era, looking to experience it from a new perspective. As always, I greatly appreciate BookSneeze for providing me with yet another free copy of a novel and the opportunity to review it honestly.

16 January 2014

The Governess of Highland Hall by Carrie Turansky

Don't wait to start chapter one. Find it here.
Goodreads | Amazon
Worlds lie between the marketplaces of India and the halls of a magnificent country estate like Highland Hall. Will Julia be able to find her place when a governess is neither upstairs family nor downstairs help? 
Missionary Julia Foster loves working alongside her parents, ministering and caring for young girls in India. But when the family must return to England due to illness, she readily accepts the burden for her parents’ financial support. Taking on a job at Highland Hall as governess, she quickly finds that teaching her four privileged, ill-mannered charges at a grand estate is more challenging than expected, and she isn’t sure what to make of the estate’s preoccupied master, Sir William Ramsey. 
Widowed and left to care for his two young children and his deceased cousin Randolph’s two teenage girls, William is consumed with saving the estate from the financial ruin. The last thing he needs is any distraction coming from the kindhearted-yet-determined governess who seems to be quietly transforming his household with her persuasive personality, vibrant prayer life, and strong faith. 
While both are tending past wounds and guarding fragile secrets, Julia and William are determined to do what it takes to save their families – common ground that proves fertile for unexpected feelings. But will William choose Julia’s steadfast heart and faith over the wealth and power he needs to secure Highland Hall’s future?

As an avid watcher of Downton Abbey, I jumped at the opportunity to explore Carrie Turansky’s depiction of early-twentieth century England in The Governess of Highland Hall. While I definitely found the storyline predictable and it easily wrapped neat and tidy, I thoroughly enjoyed the novel nonetheless. It was fun to see different interactions between the characters, upstairs and downstairs, and I would recommend this book to anyone with an interest in the time period of Downton Abbey or just romantic historical fiction. As usual, I received a copy of this novel from WaterBrook Multnomah Publishing Group and I greatly appreciate the opportunity from them to read and honestly review it.