Sautee Shadows

Written by Denise Weimer
Review by Eileen Charbonneau

This first book of the author’s Georgia Gold series introduces the four families whose lives intertwine in war and peace over a turbulent time for Georgia and the nation. In Sautee Shadows Georgia’s coast and mountain communities are linked during the economic expansion of the 1830s and 40s.

The Randall Family has links to New York through shipping. Son Jack is torn between his Northern and Southern roots. The Rousseaus are rice planter customers who begin the tradition of building a summer house to escape the heat and fevers of coastal Savannah. There, orphaned Mahala Franklin helps her grandmother run a hotel. But Mahala also has a home in the Sautee Valley, where her mother’s Cherokee roots run deep. Mahala is another character with feet in two worlds, and she has a burning desire to solve the mystery of her gold miner father’s murder.

Infused with a deep love of place and wonderful descriptions, Sautee Shadows might have benefited by a surer hand at showing instead of telling so much of its incident-filled plot. Characters, especially Jac and Mahala, are well rendered, especially when left alone to be in their scenes. Better editing might have caught anachronisms like “egocentric,” “no way,” “twenty-something” and “closure.”