The Outer Banks House
Abigail Sinclair is the daughter of a rich North Carolina plantation family. Although the Sinclair family fortune was greatly affected by the recent Civil War, the Sinclairs are still able to keep up appearances. Lured by the prospect of hunting and fishing, Abigail’s father Nolan builds a cottage on the beaches of the Outer Banks of North Carolina, away from the tourist areas where most wealthy visitors to the region stay. Nolan quickly comes to trust Benjamin Wimble, a local guide who helps him find the best spots for hunting and fishing, and he encourages Abigail to teach the illiterate Ben how to read and write in exchange for his services as a guide. At first, Abigail is repulsed by Ben’s dirtiness and casual demeanor, but they quickly realize that appearances aren’t everything, and that they have much in common. Meanwhile, racial tensions are on the rise, and Nolan Sinclair is in the middle of a dangerous plot against the Freedmen’s colony on Roanoke Island.
Abigail is a standard-issue headstrong heroine who is more than willing to buck tradition and go against her family’s wishes to make her own way in the world. Many of her actions (risking her relationship with her parents to teach late-night classes to freed slaves, for example) are atypical for a woman of the era. Ducharme includes a couple of contrasting characters, including Maddie, a prissy Southern belle who flirts with every eligible man on the island, and Hector, a stuffed-shirt doctor-in-training and Abigail’s other suitor. These secondary characters seem to mainly reinforce that Abigail and Benjamin are the ideal rather than the unusual. Readers who enjoy romantic historical novels may be interested in Ducharme’s debut.