Catherine Haynes chooses to emigrate to America rather than be forced into marriage by her father’s English family in 1856. Tom Worthington, a pilot and wrecker sent to aid her foundering ship as it approaches Key West, is attracted to Catherine. He offers to escort her to her mother’s family’s plantation in Louisiana. Upon arrival, Catherine finds something strange about overseer DeMornay, and wonders why the property is going to ruin. Then she discovers that DeMornay has designs on the plantation, which he thinks to win by forcing her to marry him. Can Tom help Catherine escape DeMornay’s clutches?
My description makes the plot sound melodramatic, which it veers towards. DeMornay cackles and utters “cruel laughs,” so the reader has no doubt who the bad guy is. There’s a weird simile in chapter 16: “Your hair the color of a fine stallion.” Huh? Do horses only come in one color? Tom is likeable but I couldn’t warm to Catherine. I had trouble believing the sacrifice a character made in the climax, or that a white man in a position of power in 1856 Louisiana, would agree to try to reunite slave families. I regret I can’t recommend this inspirational novel.