by Jennifer Blake
- Paperback: 384 pages
- Publisher: Sourcebooks Casablanca; Reprint edition (August 1, 2011)
- Language: English
- ISBN-10: 1402238495
- ISBN-13: 978-1402238499
My Rating: 3.75 of 5.0
Product DescriptionReview: I have mixed feelings about this book. I like the writing but don’t care for the basis of the story.
She has no idea what to expect...
In the aristocratic world of the magnificent plantations of nineteenth-century Louisiana, young Amalie knows how to behave as the new mistress at Belle Grove, but her arranged marriage to Julien Declouet is full of surprises.
He's as different as night and day...
Amalie finds her husband perfectly polite, although oddly aloof, by day, but a completely different man when he visits her in her chambers at night, full of white-hot emotions and passion that sweeps her away. As the steamy Louisiana summer swelters onward, and the mystery of her husband's dual personalities intensifies, the once-innocent Amalie finds herself embroiled in one turbulent scandal after another...
Amalie has been in mourning for six years. Finally she becomes a bride in an arranged marriage to Julien, a handsome and wealthy Louisiana plantation owner. Amalie has been trained to be a proper wife and she is welcomed as a good Mistress for Belle Grove and as a show piece for Julien. Amalie gets along well with her mother-in-law, Sophia, and has a kindly friendship with her flamboyant and indolent husband. Julien has come to her only a few nights in three months and in her innocense Amalie doesn’t understand why he has not consummated their marriage. Amalie knows that Sophia, whose health is fragile, would love to have a grandchild to secure the inheritance.
Finally one night her husband, although it is too dark to see him, slips into her room and seduces her. Amalie is thrilled to have the passion of the nights even if she is confused by her husband’s aloof attitude during the days.
Amalie has a friendly relationship with most of the slaves and a particularly soft spot for a young lame boy. Isa, who is a remarkably natural artist. The plantation overseer, a leering bully, makes inappropriate comments to Amalie but Julien will not fire him. Julien leaves the management of the property to his cousin, Robert. The industrious Robert and Julien are like twins in appearance and they are as close as brothers since Sophia raised Robert. Robert lives on a near-by plantation but spends a lot of time visiting to help manage Belle Grove and to supervise the rough overseer.
Slowly secrets are revealed creating misery in the household. There is bitter friction between Julien and Robert and an unbearable tension between Amalie and Robert. It is unclear how relationships will ever be resolved nor how the family will overcome the scandalous rumors.
I liked the characters although neither of the men, Julien nor Robert, seem to be fully portrayed. Making them mysterious seems to also make them a little flat. I enjoyed the rich descriptions of the flood of the plantation and the terror of the hurricane the characters experience on Isle Derniere.
I have read other historical and contemporary books written by Jennifer Blake and I like her writing. She has a particularly wonderful ability to present the lush steam and charm of Louisiana. However, the moral issues in this story made it less pleasant for me. Had I realized the nature of the relationships I probably would not have selected this book. Many positive reviews indicate that what bothered me didn’t bother other readers.
~~~~~I received this book from Sourcebooks for review.
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