The Last Heiress
by Mary Ellis
- File Size: 951 KB
- Print Length: 354 pages
- Publisher: Harvest House Publishers (February 1, 2015)
- ASIN: B00RYB9NHY
- Genre: Historical Romance
- My Rating: 4.5 of 5.0
Publication Date: February 1, 2015
Bestselling author Mary Ellis (A Widow’s Hope) presents The Last Heiress, a new romantic standalone that intertwines the lives of a British manufacturing heiress and an American merchant caught in the turbulent time of the War Between the States.
Amanda Dunn set sail from England for Wilmington, North Carolina, hoping to somehow restore shipments of cotton for her family’s textile mills, which have been severely disrupted by the American Civil War. But when she meets Nathaniel Cooper, her desire to conduct business and quickly return to England changes.
Amanda’s family across the sea deems the hardworking merchant unsuitable for the lovey and accomplished heiress. And when Nate himself begins to draw away, Amanda has her own battle for a happy future on her hands.
As the War Between the States heats up, Nate’s brother, a Confederate officer, comes for a visit. Nate begins to think about joining up—not in support of slavery but to watch his brother’s back. Yet will this potentially life-changing decision put the union between him and Amanda she so wishes for in jeopardy?
Amanda is the remaining daughter of her wealthy mill owning father. Her brother was killed in an accident and her twin sister has been gone several years after running off to marry her sweetheart, an American son of a Wilmington supplier. Amanda convinces her father that she can learn the mill business and be his emissary to negotiate new contracts in America. Reluctantly he agrees and sends her on her way with only a maid.
Amanda is thrilled to reunite with her sister Amelia. She is dismayed to discover that Amelia and her husband are slave owners when they gift a young black slave to serve Amelia. Even Amanda’s maid is in an awkward social position because she is not a slave nor a noble.
Amanda’s initial attempts to broker a contract for cotton are met with disdain by Amelia’s husband and his father. They do not wish to deal with a woman and Amelia’s husband doesn’t appreciate Amanda’s independent nature.
Nate is a young man from the Smoky Mountains who found his way to Wilmington to find work and build a dream. He has worked hard as a grocer saving money to buy land and a home someday. Nate is smitten when he sees Amanda. She is charmed by his natural, open friendliness. Over the many months that Amanda is in Wilmington, their friendship grows in spite of differences in their social status and the objections and obstacles presented by Amelia’s husband.
As the Union Army moves closer to invading Wilmington, the personal dynamics change. Nate begins to feel he must finally join the Confederate Army after discovering his younger brother is alive and in danger as a young officer. Nate tries to send Amanda back to England without realizing the extent of her stubbornness. Meanwhile Amanda’s brother-in-law discovers he has placed his family business at risk to the dangers of war. He also must face a new circumstance as many of his servants run off. There is an ironic twist that results from the dangers that adds to the plot.
I really enjoyed the characters of Amanda and Nate and their gentle verbal sparring. It was interesting to see that they each felt out of place in their society roles and expectations. I also liked the wonderful history and the excellent portrayal of the race, class and social difficulties in the English and young American situations. There are interesting discussions regarding the slave and social issues and comparing the differences in the two countries.
Amanda has a nice faith conviction and there is a nice input of faith from a secondary character that fit with the circumstances and gave strength to Nate as the story progressed. The writing flowed nicely with the rich story and descriptions. There is also a nice set of Discussion Questions at the conclusion.
I would definitely like to read more by this author. I recommend this to those who enjoy historical romance and Civil War settings (like I do).
I received this from the publisher through NetGalley for an honest review. It qualifies for my NetGalley Challenge.