Reluctant Belle (Daughtry House)

Written by Beth White
Review by J. Lynn Else

Book 2 of Beth White’s Daughtry House series focuses on Joelle, a Mississippi belle who spends her post-Civil War days penning articles for the local newspaper or teaching freed slaves to read and write. Unfortunately, the rise of Klan activity endangers her community and the people she cares for most, including Schuyler Beaumont—a childhood antagonist who is stirring new feelings in Joelle’s heart. After Schuyler’s father is shot and killed during a public rally, his hunt for the killer leads Schuyler to the town of Tupelo where Joelle and her sisters are about to open their plantation house-turned-hotel for its first guests. When attacks strike close to home, Joelle and Schuyler join forces to root out the head of a dangerous, shadowy organization.

The Daughtry series continues to be atmospheric as The Reluctant Belle picks up where A Rebel Heart leaves off. Introverted middle sister, Joelle, takes center stage for this installment, exploring realms outside her comfort zone. As Schuyler searches for his father’s killer, Joelle stands up for under privileged freedmen and women. Joelle and Schuyler turn to their faith in difficult times, which serves to both mirror and contrast their emotional struggles. With this book, the tension wasn’t as strong as in book 1 so was a less compelling read. But don’t get me wrong; there’s much to enjoy. The characters are well developed, though you do need to be familiar with book 1 to keep straight many of the names. Joelle and her sisters are women about to open a hotel, and this socioeconomic strain adds an additional layer to the plot. Overall, a delightful trip to a South slowly recovering from the Civil War with strong characters rooted in faith and family.