A Rebel Heart by Beth White is the first in the new Daughtry House series.
I loved the first series Beth authored: The Gulf Coast Chronicles. I have been waiting for her next book. This series moves to just after the Civil War, at Ithaca Plantation outside of Tupelo, Mississippi.
Ithaca Plantation was once a proud lady of the South. Having endured atrocities of the War of Northern Agression, now, in 1870, she is fighting for her life and her owners wish to bring her back to her glory. How can Ithaca regain her grandeur when the remaining descendants are three young ladies who are lacking the funds to do so?
Selah is the eldest Daughtry daughter on her way to a bank seeking to secure funds to keep her family’s plantation from being sold. Levi Riggins, a Yankee, is traveling on the same train. Levi offers a solution to Selah and her family. With the financial backing of a childhood nemesis of the sisters, Schuyler Beaumont, the grand plantation can be turned into a luxury hotel. Can Selah trust Levi? What is the real reason for this Yankee to be involved in this scheme? Can old hurts be mended between Schuyler and the Daughtry daughters?
Beth White is a wonderful storyteller. The plot was very intricate and well thought out. The characters are living out their faith in a critical point in U.S. history. The story shows how part of reconstruction played out but still shows the lingering animosity towards those who would help the recently freed slaves make the transition to paid laborers.
This scene shows the faith and compassion of Selah as she talks to friend and former slave. “Horatia, I think none of us really know for sure how to navigate this life, especially me. But I do know one thing. We’ve got to stick together, and we’ve got to trust God’s Word to be true, or we’re all going under.”
The romance progressed slowly out of necessity. Selah had to let time show her if she could trust Levi. Was what he was proposing for Ithaca in her family’s best interest? Levi has secrets but he is relying on God to show how much to reveal and when to reveal it.
The secondary characters were interesting as well. I especially liked young Wyatt and the girls ‘ cousin ThomasAnn and their Grandmother.
I am looking forward to the next books in the series. There are hints that they will deal with the other sisters.
BACK COVER BLURB:
Five years after the final shot was fired in the War Between the States, Selah Daughtry can barely manage to keep herself, her two younger sisters, and their spinster cousin fed and clothed. With their family's Mississippi plantation swamped by debt and the Big House falling down around them, the only option seems to be giving up their ancestral land.
Pinkerton agent and former Union cavalryman Levi Riggins is investigating a series of robberies and sabotage linked to the impoverished Daughtry plantation. Posing as a hotel management agent for the railroad, he tells Selah he'll help her save her home, but only if it is converted into a hotel. With Selah otherwise engaged with renovations, Levi moves onto the property to "supervise" while he actually attends to his real assignment right under her nose.
Selah isn't sure she entirely trusts the handsome Yankee, but she'd do almost anything to save her home. What she never expected to encounter was his assault on her heart.
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* I received a complimentary copy of this book from the publisher on behalf of the author. I was not required to give a favorable review. All opinions are my own.*