Tuesday, February 1, 2022

BEYOND THE LAVENDER FIELDS by Arlem Hawks, Reviewed by Winnie Thomas #ReleaseDay

About the Book:

1792, France
Rumors of revolution in Paris swirl in Marseille, a bustling port city in southern France. Gilles √Čtienne, a clerk at the local soap factory, thrives on the news. Committed to the cause of equality, liberty, and brotherhood, he and his friends plan to march to Paris to dethrone the monarchy. His plans are halted when he meets Marie-Caroline Daubin, the beautiful daughter of the owner of the factory.

A bourgeoise and a royalist, Marie-Caroline has been called home to Marseille to escape the unrest in Paris. She rebuffs Gilles’s efforts to charm her and boldly expresses her view that violently imposed freedom is not really freedom for all. As Marie-Caroline takes risks to follow her beliefs, Gilles catches her in a dangerous secret that could cost her and her family their lives. As Gilles and Marie-Caroline spend more time together, she questions her initial assumptions about Gilles and realizes that per-haps they have more in common than she thought.

As the spirit of revolution descends on Marseille, people are killed and buildings are ransacked and burned to the ground. Gilles must choose between supporting the political change he believes in and protecting those he loves. And Marie-Caroline must battle between standing up for what she feels is right and risking her family’s safety. With their lives and their nation in turmoil, both Gilles and Marie-Caroline wonder if a r√©volutionnaire and a royaliste can really be together in a world that forces people to choose sides.

Set in France in 1792 during the French Revolution, this story paints a vivid picture of the turmoil and the division between the two sides involved. It was interesting and thought-provoking to learn more about this slice of history. With obvious careful research and rich historical detail, the story unfolds to show that things are sometimes not just black and white.

“Doing what is right is more important than who is right, I think.”

“If the upholders of liberty only protect liberty for those who think as they do, can they really call themselves champions of freedom?”

Arlem Hawks is a master at creating colorful, realistic, and emotionally-layered characters. Gilles and Marie-Caroline shine as the courageous main characters, while a stellar cast of supporting characters add great depth and dimension. I enjoyed seeing the relationships change and grow throughout the tale.

“Life throws us more things we don’t choose than things we do.”

While this book started out a little slow for me, mostly due to the preponderance of names and words in French which I’m not fluent in, once I got into it my interest was piqued and I greatly enjoyed it. I appreciated the glossaries of French names and words in the back of the book. They really helped with pronunciation and understanding. I did find myself flipping back to the glossaries often, which took me out of the story a bit.

This story is a perfect blend of a riveting plot, compelling characters, and a swoony romance, and is sure to please those who enjoy historical romantic fiction. I’m looking forward to more books from this author.
*I voluntarily reviewed a complimentary copy from Shadow Mountain Publishing. All opinions are my own.
4.5 stars

Shadow Mountain Publishing, January, 2022
Book Trailer: https://youtu.be/fjr6vMhBn0Y

Purchase Links:
Indie Bound, Amazon, Barnes and Noble

“Captivating and engaging to the very end.” —JESSICA M.
“Well-researched and rich in historical detail.” —PATRICIA W.
“This one has it all: history, romance, suspense, intrigue. . . . It does not disappoint.” —JULIA D.

About the Author:
ARLEM HAWKS began making up stories before she could write. Living all over the western United States and traveling around the world gave her a love of cultures and people and the stories they have to tell. She has a bachelor’s degree in communications, with an emphasis in print journalism, and she lives in Arizona with her husband three children.
For author interview requests, please contact Callie Hansen at chansen@shadowmountain.com

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