Monday, March 3, 2014

New Review: Lisa Gregory’s BITTERLEAF – A Sultry Tale from the Old South

Set in Charleston, in the Carolina colony in 1761, this is the story of Jeremy Devlin, the bastard son of an Irish mother and an English nobleman, and Meredith Whitney, the too tall plain daughter of a plantation owner. Though her stepfather brought his money to Bitterleaf, the plantation has been in Meredith’s family for generations and she cannot envision ever leaving it.

Jeremy, betrayed into indentured servitude in the colonies, was a man admired by the women of London, “able to smile and wheedle his was with them or take them as his right, whichever suited his purpose and mood.” When he first sees Meredith and the beautiful mistress of her stepfather, Jeremy determines to have them both, no matter his lowly status at Bittlerleaf where he’s been consigned to the stables.

When Jeremy, who is good with horses and an expert rider, offers to teach Meredith to ride (she does not ride well), her stepfather thinks it’s a grand idea and asks also Jeremy to ride their spirited stallion in an upcoming race. Her stepfather has a plan and Jeremy is a part of it.

It’s a story of what happens when a man who has enjoyed pleasure with beauties is surprised to find himself enthralled with a plain woman with low self-esteem who has more passion and more intelligence than any other woman he’s known. And it’s a story of learning to trust.

Lisa Gregory (pen name for Candace Camp) and author of the classic THE RAINBOW SEASON, can certainly spin a tale. In this detailed story, she brings to life the world of the Southern plantation in 18th century America, before the Revolutionary War. Most of the story takes place at Bitterleaf and in Charleston. Some richly drawn characters add a wonderful depth to the story. However, you may find the pace is a bit leisurely, and I have to say some of their misunderstandings that persisted did bother me.

Oh, and while I love the cover, I should note that Jeremy has golden hair, not dark brown.

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