Sunday, 10 June 2012

Veil of Pearls

Author: MaryLu M.L Tyndall
Genre: Historical Fiction (Slavery), Christian, Romance
Type: E-book (Advanced Reading Copy)
To Be Published: July 1, 2012
ISBN-10: 1616265779
ISBN-13: 978-1616265779
First Line: "If Althea got caught, Sir Walter would whip her to death."

Synopsis:  It's the year 1811, and a young woman named Althea has just arrived in Charleston, South Carolina. Unbeknownst to those around her Adalia is a runaway slave who, after seven long years of abuse from her master escapes her life in Barbados for a new life in Charleston.  Upon arriving in Charleston Althea changes her name to Adalia in order to begin a new life with anonymity.  Alone in a new country with no one to help her Adalia turns to the one thing that she's always leaned on -- her faith. 

Adalia is a very light-skinned black woman - so fair that she can easily pass for white.  She uses this to her advantage as she begins her new life using her knowledge of herbal remedies to gain employment as a doctor's assistant. 

It's through her job that Adalia first meets a young man named Morgan Rutledge.  Initially when Morgan, the son of an afluent plantation owner, takes an interest in Adalia she takes an instant dislike to the spoiled young man whose family thrives at the expense of the slaves that they own. 

Over time Morgan wins her over and brings Adalia into his world where she is swept up in the thrill of upper society.  Now that her life has taken a turn for the better Adalia is even more concerned that those around her will find out about her secret past and threaten her future happiness.

My Thoughts:  This was an enjoyable read that balances the brutality of slavery with a Christian romance.  When I received this book via Net Galley I didn't realize that it was a Christian-based historical romance.  While I am a Christian I have rarely read Christian-based books and I tend to steer away from romances because I often find them very saccharine for my tastes.

While 'Veil of Pearls' is very Christian-based, the faith aspect of the storyline wasn't forced or 'in your face' but was included as a meaningful part of the storyline.  I really enjoyed reading about how Adalia received strength from her faith in God and held on to her convictions throughout her turbulent life.  What made her a more multi-dimensional character for me is that she wasn't perfect.  I liked seeing how Adalia struggled with her new-found life and popularity in high society and how she strays from her beliefs for awhile and begins to put the opinions of others above her previous convictions.  Oh how quickly things can change!  Even when Adalia loses her way a bit in the book it made her a more realistic character for me and helped me better understand her.

The romance in the book was also believable and sweet.  It wasn't too 'cutsey' but a fairly believable progression for the two main characters.   Adalia is a wonderfully endearing, strong (albeit somewhat naive) main character who you cannot help but root for. She's a woman who has nothing but her convictions and faith to keep her going when she breaks away from her horrible existence in Barbados to try for a better life. 

If I had one issue with Adalia its that she seemed to flow from her life in slavery with her horrible owner into her new life in Charleston fairly easily.  A little too easily for my liking.  She seems to fall into her new profession as well as meeting Morgan too quickly.  I would have liked to have seen her struggle more and see her rely on her faith at that time to show the differences when she later forgets to lean on God.  I like to see a main character go through a transformation as well as see the struggle that goes along with it.

While this was an interesting (although fairly predictable) plot I would have loved for the book to be longer so that we could have delved more into the backgrounds and issues of the main characters including Morgan and the doctor that Adalia works for.  A longer book would have also allowed the secondary characters (ie. the doctor, his slave Joy and Miss Emerald) to be brought into the storyline more.  I think that would have made for a more layered plotline.

All in all, I enjoyed this read.  With its vivid descriptions of 19th century Charleston, endearing characters and interesting premise I'd describe it as a historical fiction read with a healthy dose of Christian romance added in for good measure.

My Rating: 3.5 stars

Note: My sincere thanks to Net Galley and Barbour Publishing for providing me with this Advanced Reading Copy for my honest review.  All opinions expressed are purely my own.

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