Thursday, September 23, 2021

UNDER THE BAYOU MOON by Valerie Fraser Luesse, Reviewed by Rebecca Maney

"I think I'd rather just find somebody I could be quiet with".

Adjusting to her new life in the tiny town of Bernadette, Louisiana, Ellie Field is full of anticipation; she's the new school teacher, and already the locals are filling her head with all sorts of reasons why their children have continually despised going to school. Primarily, the state superintendent has determined that the Cajun language and culture should be sacrificed to progression; Ellie begs to differ.

One of the first people Ellie meets is an enigmatic young fisherman, Raphe Broussard, whose kindness and selflessness has extended out into his community as well as inward towards his young orphaned nephew Remy, who lives with Raphe. As Ellie masters the challenges of teaching multiple grades, Raphe and Remy help her become more and more comfortable in her remote surroundings. But all is not as beautiful as the moonlight on the bayou; danger and greed lurk in the shadows of the tall swamp grasses, along with a well kept secret that hides beneath local lore . . .  the tales of a white alligator are not just a figment of a storyteller's imagination. 

Brimming with Louisiana culture and mystique, this story does have some minor hiccups. Scene changes and time lapses are bumpy and unpredictable, but fortunately the characters rise to every occasion, searing their sense of benevolent community spirit towards each and every family, regardless of race, religion or economic standing, into your conscience. Is there a difference between happiness and contentment? Perhaps, Raphe and Ellie have found the answer to that question.

"Ellie heard - for the first time in her life - the sound of pure contentment, flowing over her like creek water on smooth rocks. And she knew without a doubt that she could listen to it forever."
*I received a copy of this book from the publisher. The opinions stated above are entirely my own. 3.5 stars

See Paula's Review!

BackCover Blurb:
Restless with the familiarity of her Alabama home, Ellie Fields accepts a teaching job in a tiny Louisiana town deep in bayou country. Though rightfully suspicious of outsiders, who have threatened both their language and their culture, most of the people in tiny Bernadette, Louisiana, come to appreciate the young and idealistic schoolteacher as a boon to the town. She's soon teaching just about everyone--and coming up against opposition from both the school board and a politician with ulterior motives.

Acclimating to a whole new world, Ellie meets a lonely but intriguing Cajun fisherman named Raphe who introduces her to the legendary white alligator that haunts these waters. Raphe and Ellie have barely found their way to each other when a huge bounty is offered for the elusive gator, bringing about a shocking turn of events that will test their love and their will to right a terrible wrong.

A master of the Southern novel, Valerie Fraser Luesse invites you to enter the sultry swamps of Louisiana in a story that illuminates the struggle for the heart and soul of the bayou.
Revell Publishing, August 3, 2021
Available in digital ebook, paperback, hardcover, and audiobook:

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