In Love's Rescue, the first of her Keys of Promise series, Christine Johnson introduces us to the tempestuous Florida Keys. Elizabeth Benjamin returns to Key West after learning of her mother's death, but her homecoming isn't all she wanted it to be: her brother still resents her for a mistake she made that led to his crippling, and her father and aunt are pushing a match with a man she despises, while her heart still belongs to the wrecker Rourke O'Malley. When family secrets are revealed, she must decide if she will choose her family or her own way.
I always enjoy it when an author chooses a lesser-known location or part of history to focus on in her story. In this case, we get an introduction to the dangers, beauty, and unusual politics of Key West. While I have read one other series taking place in the Florida Keys, it was fun to get another--later--perspective, after the pirates are relegated to history and the area is largely civilized. While a lack of basic dry goods in the Keys was understandable, I found it especially interesting that most foods save fish and a few tropical fruits also had to be brought in; very little was raised there on the islands. A very different culture!
The author strikes a nice balance between Elizabeth's opposing aspects of her upbringing: she is the daughter of a wealthy, slave-holding southerner, and thus she does exhibit characteristics of her entitled class. But she was also brought up with a slave for her best childhood friend, and so she does have sympathy for her maid. Slavery is the way of life down there; I wouldn't call Elizabeth an abolitionist, but she tries to be a good mistress of her house. In that, I think she is more realistic than many heroines of the South who go from indifference or ignorance about slavery to suddenly acquiring intense abolitionist leanings.
For a romance, there is surprisingly little interaction between the heroine and hero, though they clearly occupy each others' thoughts. I liked Rourke's selfless pursuit of his mission, especially since it focuses on neither him nor his love interest; it's a different approach to a romance. The book has good things to say about forgiveness--both in seeking it and giving it. An enjoyable historical read!
Thank you Revell for providing a free book in exchange for a review. I was not required to make it positive, and all opinions are my own.
Keys of Promise:
1. Love's Rescue
2. Honor Redeemed
3. Freedom's Price