The Golden Shore: (A Scandalous Life Book 3)
In this third book of the Scandalous Life series, set in 1662 Rhode Island, Herodias (Herod) Long has been cohabitating with George Gardner for nineteen years. She refuses to marry him after her first abusive marriage ended with her husband stealing her inheritance. Rhode Island seethes with contention between Quakers and Puritans, plus the Native Americans who swear the white men have tricked them out of their land. Herod catches George in a compromising position so she leaves him to dwell on the property promised her deep in the wilderness. Helped by Mr. Porter, a man she has an affinity for, she struggles to feed her children, farm, and raise livestock. But George wants revenge. He claims her land under the assumption he’s her common-law husband and accuses her of an adulterous affair with Porter. Herod must fight prejudicial men of authority to keep her home.
Butler brings early Rhode Island to life through the religious beliefs and cultural restrictions against women in the 17th century. Her descriptions of the landscape make you feel you’ve walked through it. However, there are dozens of characters and difficult Indian names to keep track of. The lengthy descriptions of terrain and daily life slow the novel’s pace, and I started to skim through them. Herod and others were actual people in this era, and the author is a descendant of the heroine. The Author’s Notes and reproduction of documents at the end of the book back up Butler’s careful research. I recommend reading the first two books, The Reputed Wife and Rebel Puritan, in Herod’s story to find out more about this brave, nonconformist woman.