Following her father’s death, Charlotte Fraser returns to Fairhaven, her family’s rice plantation in the South Carolina Lowcountry. With no one else to rely upon, smart, independent Charlotte is determined to resume cultivating the superior strain of rice called Carolina Gold. But the war has left the plantation in ruins, her father’s former bondsmen are free, and workers and equipment are in short supply.
To make ends meet, Charlotte reluctantly agrees to tutor the two young daughters of her widowed neighbor and heir to Willowood Plantation, Nicholas Betancourt. Just as her friendship with Nick deepens, he embarks upon a quest to prove his claim to Willowood and sends Charlotte on a dangerous journey that uncovers a long-held family secret, and threatens everything she holds dear.
Inspired by the life of a 19th-century woman rice farmer, Carolina Gold pays tribute to the hauntingly beautiful Lowcountry and weaves together mystery, romance, and historical detail, bringing to life the story of one young woman’s struggle to restore her ruined world.
I was excited to see Dorothy Love's newest release come up for review because I had enjoyed several of the books in her Hickory Ridge Romance series. I was interested in seeing where she would take this, I assume, single book (no series plans). When it arrived I was excited to learn that the setting was in South Carolina, I live around the area and have lots of family there/here too. So being familiar with Charleston and the general feel I was excited to start. Let me just go ahead and start with the good thing. The great thing was that she really got the feel of the setting right. Perhaps it was because I already knew some of the SC feel, I'm not sure, but it was written really well I thought. And there is a good bit of the book spent on an island a little ways out from the Lowcountry and it was just so beautifully described that I definitely want to find an island to vacation on. I was also happy with Charlotte as the main character. I liked her and I thought that the way she had changed over the war (although we hadn't "known" her before) was a good insight. And it really wouldn't have worked for the story to have had a girly-girly main character at all, she fit the bill of teacher/rice planter very well. Speaking of her teaching, I was really happy that she and her two pupils got to spend quite a bit of time together. I just found it really sweet reading the scenes with them together because it just was perfect. The lived with her for a summer and got quite attached. If you were planning to get romantic with their dad it's always best to get the kids on your side right? I liked how they got to get to know Charlotte before anything romantic really happened. And the two girls were so sweet, I loved their characters. Speaking of characters Charlotte and her two pupils were my favorites. There were some other sweet ones, mainly Daniel, but I didn't care much for Mr.Betancourt that much sadly.
Now the less fun part. I didn't think that the romance was quite up to par. Alright so he's handsome and you're watching his daughters then you worry about him for a while and then you start getting feels. Okay, all of that made sense it's just when she came back (I'm not telling here!) and another character kept saying she was in love and that she could tell too. That made me a little annoyed. The romance was good and thank goodness the ending ended like it did, the last chapters anyway. There were a couple parts that seemed a little blown out of proportion at the end, too much drama from Josie maybe? I'm really sure, it just seemed that leading up to the ending there were some parts that didn't sit quite right. And then lastly, there was a lot of talk at the beginning of not having much money and Charlotte having to take out a loan. But once you get about halfway in her money problems seem to be gone. There are a few little comments here or there about something being expensive but she goes and pays it still. She lost her writing job for the newpaper, which most have cost her something even if she took two teaching jobs. The money was never quite explained and it got under my skin a little.
Overall, I would give this book 3 stars. I enjoyed the setting and the story a lot, but some parts of the ending and the romance came across wrong to me. It's a good book and quite a bit educational about the time the rice planters had in the south after the war. I also liked how Charlotte's teaching ideas were a lot like a homeschoolers ;) I would recommend this book if you like historical fiction or are from the south and enjoy reading books about the south.
Content would consist of one kiss, some death (it was after a war and there was a yellow fever outbreak in New Orleans), and one character is drunk or partially so in one scene.
I was given a copy to review by the publisher and the views I've expressed are my own.