Impoverished Southern belle Joelle Daughtry has a secret. By day she has been helping her sisters in their quest to turn the run-down family plantation into a resort hotel after the close of the Civil War. But by night and under a male pseudonym, she has been penning articles for the local paper in support of the construction of a Negro school. With the Mississippi arm of the Ku Klux Klan gaining power and prestige, Joelle knows she is playing a dangerous game.
When childhood enemy and current investor in the Daughtry house renovation Schuyler Beaumont takes over his assassinated father's candidacy for state office, Joelle finds that in order to protect her family and her home, she and Schuyler will have to put aside their longstanding personal conflict and develop a united public front. The trouble is, what do you do when animosity becomes respect--and even love--if you're already engaged to someone else?
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This is an incredible historical romance.
I think that all of the central characters are extremely well developed. Joelle has to be my favorite with all of her insecurities and doubts. I can relate to her as far as how many of them she has. Yet she continues to strive to help other people and treat them fairly.
Schuyler Beaumont finds himself having to grow up suddenly and face the realities of what life is truly like. Along with that he does a fair amount of kicking himself for not having been acting in a more adult manner for so long.
I thoroughly enjoyed seeing how Joelle and Schuyler interact with each other. They suddenly find themselves seeing each other as their adult selves not the children that grew up as friends/foes.
The plot of the story is very heavy in that it deals with the middle portion of the Reconstruction Era, five years after Robert E. Lee surrendered at Appomattox. The presentation of the racial atmosphere of the time is very well done. I do appreciate the fact that the author chose not to use all of the very harsh language that would have been prevalent at the time. It made it a little easier for me to read.
I received a complimentary copy of this book from the publisher. I was not required to give a positive review. All of the opinions expressed are my own.
Disclaimer: *Disclosure of Material Connection: I received a copy of this book for free in the hope that I would mention/review it on my blog. I was not required to give a positive review, only my honest opinion - which I've done. All thoughts and opinions expressed are my own. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission's 16 CFR, Part 255: "Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising.*
So, so good!
A Reluctant Belle is an extremely well-written story about Joelle Daughtry, a young lady living in the Deep South just after the Civil War who yearns to help educate the recently freed slaves. Obviously, there is opposition to this cause, and she and Schuyler, her childhood friend/enemy who she can’t stand and also can’t stand to be without, are caught in the middle of a dangerous situation.
It took me a few chapters to really get into the story and connect with it, but once I did, I couldn’t put it down. The characters were so engaging. I love the relationship between Joelle and Schuyler — how they would push away from each other but then always pull back together, not really realizing the love they had for each other until they thought they might loose it forever. One of the most compelling aspects of the story is knowing that the danger was real — that post-Civil War life was dangerous, for freedmen and for those who would take up their cause.
Overall, I thought this was an excellent book. I hadn’t read anything by Beth White prior to this book, but now I am definitely going to check out her other books. I highly recommend this one to anyone who likes historical romantic Christian fiction.
*My thanks to the publisher for the Early Reviewer’s copy. I was not obligated to give a positive a review, and all opinions expressed are my own.*