Tag Archive | slavery

“Keturah” by Lisa T. Bergren

Although I have not been a fan of series set in the West Indies previously, I am a fan of Lisa T. Bergren’s novel “Keturah”, book one in the Sugar Baron’s Daughters series.  I found the description of life in the lush tropical islands to be probably true, but not at all what I envisioned living in the tropics would be.

Keturah is reeling after being released from an abusive marriage by the death of her husband.  She returns to the family manor to be with her sisters, Verity and Selah.  Upon word reaching them of their father’s death on a sugar plantation on Nevis in the West Indies, Keturah is determined to travel there to try salvaging the plantation that seems to be in trouble.  She might not go to that length if their manor home in England was safe.  But her father sold off land that could have been profitable for them in order to provide more funds for the plantation.  Not to be left out, Verity and Selah vow to travel with her.  A long-time friend, Gray, promises their uncle to keep a watch on the girls, which he will have to do quietly, as Keturah has vowed to bow to no man ever again.

Upon landing in the West Indies, the girls and Gray find that their respective plantations are direly in need of restoration.  Although abhorring the practice of keeping slaves, it is necessary for the economic welfare of the islands.  Also, the other plantation owners and their overseers do not cotton to a refined lady, or any lady or woman taking up the reins of a plantation and being kind and generous to the slaves (Keturah calls them “her people”).  She is thwarted at every turn and vows that she will succeed.

I found the living conditions described on Nevis were sharply divided among those who had money and status and those who did not.  Treatment of the slaves was abominable and usually left to the mercy of the overseers, who could be kind or not, mostly not.

Because I found that I truly learned something from this historical novel, I am bound to read the following novels as soon as they are published.  I was very impressed that Ms. Bergren really studied her history in regards to this series.  I am eagerly awaiting her new novels.

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“The Runway” by Melanie Dobson

I have read many of Melanie Dobson’s works, the latest being, “The Runway” one in the Legacy of Love series.  Anna Brent and her father live in Liberty, Indiana during the time before the Civil War.  Indiana was a viable link in the Underground Railroad system that helped thousands of runaway slaves find freedom in Canada.  Anna and her father were part of the system and their home was a station on the railway.  They court danger constantly as they go against most of their neighbors in harboring the fugitives.  After the Fugitive Slave Act of 1850, it was against the law to have anything to do with helping those poor souls find freedom.  Neighbors were pitted against neighbors and being caught could mean a large fine and imprisonment.   Some were even lynched or worse if found to have helped rescue a slave.

Anna writes a column in a local abolitionist newspaper under a pseudonym.  The local editor and noted abolitionist, Daniel Stanton is enamored by this “man’s” writings and risks everything to denounce those who support slavery.  When Anna’s work in the Underground is threatened, can she trust Daniel to keep her secrets and help her?  Ms. Dobson writes a very stimulating novel about the political climate at this time in history and the part ordinary people played in thwarting the system.

“The Promise of Breeze Hill” by Pam Hillman

I was delighted to read “The Promise of Breeze Hill” by Pam Hillman.  I loved this book because of the sweet romance, the mysteries surrounding the Natchez Trace, the intrigue and the way that life during that time period was described.

An indentured carpenter, Connor O’Shea is chosen by Isabella Bartholomew for his help on her father’s plantation.  There have been many tragedies in the Bartholomew family of late and at the beginning of the book, no one suspected that someone wanted the Bartholomews out.  The death of the son and heir, the fiery destruction of part of the plantation house, missing stock, mysterious trespassers, and other incidents really do not come to the surface until Connor comes to the plantation.  His presence puts a distinct kink in the works for the one person wanting to see the demise of Breeze Hill.

I loved the book and its fast pace kept me reading long into the night until I was finished.  I thought the characters in the story were well-described and their actions fit their characters.  I also like a good romance and this was that.  Well worth my time reading this book.

I received a complimentary print copy of this book from Tyndale House Publishers and was under no obligation to post a review.

“All Different Kinds of Free” by Jessica McCann

I give five stars to “all different kinds of free”, written by Jessica McCann was a winner of the Freedom in Fiction Prize.  One of my favorite authors, Sandra Dallas, said of this book:  “…gripping…this book tears at your heart.”

I totally agree with her comment.  This book tore a little piece of my heart each time I read about the degradation, hopelessness and total disregard for humanity that Margaret Morgan and her family experienced at the hands of “owners” and other persons who caused this woman and her family untold grief.  Even though this is a work of fiction, it is based on events that truly did happen in Maryland and Pennsylvania before the Civil War.  This event is a court case that went all the way to the Supreme Court, Prigg vs. Pennsylvania.  In this case the Supreme Court opinion invalidated a Pennsylvania law that prevented free blacks from being kidnapped and sold into slavery.

Margaret Morgan was a real person.  However, this fictional work told of a Margaret who fled slavery in Maryland, coming to Pennsylvania under the impression that she was a free woman.  She was married to a free black man and had children.  They lived in Pennsylvania for several years before she was kidnapped by Mr. Prigg and returned to slavery along with her children.  What follows in Margaret’s life is not to be believed.  My heart broke piece by piece as I read of her travails.  It is unconscionable that these actions took place in our country during the time of slavery.  I cringed each time these people were treated with less respect than the horses.  It makes sense that we in this time of history read about past times so that we make sure that actions like this never happen again.

You can contact the author at www.jessicamccann.com.

Amazon.com and Bell Bridge Books provided a free kindle copy to me in return for my honest review of this book.