When a deadly yellow fever outbreak draws Cornelia Gill back home, her new independent life must be abandoned. Injured veteran, Carter Williams, likewise must return to Dogwood Plantation when he suffers grievous family losses. Both become caretakers to younger family members. As the War of 1812 heats up, two wounded hearts begin to heal. But can they manage all that life has handed them?
Disclaimer: Although I received a copy of this book from the author and JustRead Publicity, the words and opinions below are my own.
It’s 1814, and Napoleon is on the verge of defeat in Europe. What does this mean for a plantation on the James River, a plantation that’s lost both owner and manager due to Yellow Fever? For the owner’s brother and the manager’s daughter, it means returning to a place filled with memories of love and heartache to take care of the property and five boys of various ages. Their life choices are limited: Carter was previously disinherited and must rely on his juvenile nephew’s generosity, while Cornelia must decide whether to accept her second cousin’s offer of marriage and protection.
It’s apparent early in the book that Cornelia and Carter have history. It’s a relationship which his brother had deemed unsuitable, and so they were separated Time has seemingly not decreased their feelings for each other, and so the romance flows from the beginning. Will love or practicality win out? Meanwhile, other characters have schemes and secrets which could impact their lives. At times, it’s hard to tell which adults are on their side and which aren’t.
Then, there’s the issue of slavery. This is a plantation in Virginia that relies of slave labor, and there’s no getting around that. I did cringe, however, every time I saw a house slave referred to as a servant. In my modern mind, a servant receives payment for their labors. There is brief mention of a previous harsh overseer, and the slaves not being provided for, but Carter and Cornelia work to rectify these issues. They both have a desire to free the slaves, but what do they do about it? Yes, they provide for their slaves in terms of food and clothing but, at the end of the day, these are still human beings held in slavery and denied even basic freedoms.
The War of 1812 is mentioned in the background. Cornelia’s cousin speaks of knowing three of the first five presidents, and the British burning of the White House is also mentioned. The young nation is at war but the impact on Dogwood Plantation is, I thought as I read, seemingly minimal.
This is Christian fiction. Cornelia relies on her faith, while Carter isn’t so sure God exists due to events in his life.
Above all, this is a romance with some slight suspense. It’s a story of two people in love attempting to reconcile their emotions with the practicalities of their lives. There’s no real surprise to the ending; the reason to read is about how they get there.
Publisher: Hearts Overcoming Press
Publication Date: August 31, 2020
Carrie Fancett Pagels, Ph.D., is an ECPA bestselling and award-winning author, tagline “Hearts Overcoming Through Time.” Possessed with an overactive imagination, that wasn’t “cured” by twenty-five years as a psychologist, she loves bringing characters to life. Carrie and her family reside in Virginia’s Historic Triangle, which is perfect for her fascination with history. Carrie enjoys reading, traveling, baking, and beading-but not all at the same time!
Carrie’s romance novella, The Steeplechase, was a finalist in the prestigious Holt Medallion Awards in 2017. My Heart Belongs on Mackinac Island: Maude’s Mooring (Barbour, July 2017) was a Romantic Times Book Reviews Top Pick. Her short story, The Quilting Contest, was Historical Fiction Winner of Family Fiction’s “The Story” national contest. Her novella, The Substitute Bride was a 2016 Maggie Award (published) finalist for Romance Novellas. All three of her Christy Lumber Camp books were long list finalists for Family Fiction’s Book of the Year and The Fruitcake Challenge was a Selah Award finalist.
Carrie Fancett Pagels’s Website https://www.carriefancettpagels.com/