I wanted to like Reluctant Belle. I really did. But I’m afraid it just didn’t work for me.

Joelle Daughtry, the impoverished Southern belle, has been helping her sisters in their quest to turn the run-down family plantation into a resort hotel after the close of the Civil War. But by night and under a male pseudonym, she has been penning articles for the local paper in support of constructing a school for former slaves. With the Mississippi arm of the Ku Klux Klan gaining power and prestige, Joelle knows she is playing a dangerous game.

Loyalties shift when Schuyler Beaumont, childhood enemy and current investor in the Daughtry House renovation, takes over his assassinated father’s candidacy for state office. Joelle finds that in order to protect her family and her home, she and Schuyler will have to put aside their longstanding personal conflict and develop a united public front. The trouble is, what do you do when animosity becomes respect–and even love–if you’re already engaged to someone else?

I love period stories and liked the idea of a Southern belle educating former slaves. It made me think of real life Fanny Kemble. Unfortunately, though, I didn’t find Joelle Daughtry to be a particularly likeable heroine. The only character I liked was Schuyler. He certainly had his flaws, but we got into his head and could understand where he was coming from. I couldn’t understand why Joelle did the things she did.

I had a hard time keeping interest in the story. Perhaps this was because this was Book 2 in a series. Maybe if I’d gotten to know these characters in the first book, I would have understood them better and cared what happened to them.

Finally, despite all the historical facts, the story didn’t read period to me. It felt like modern characters placed in a historical setting. Every few pages, someone said or did something that felt inauthentic. It constantly took me out of the story.

I hate writing a negative review. I usually try to only writing positive, but Reluctant Belle just didn’t work for me. Sorry. 😦

Disclaimer: I received a complimentary copy of the book from the publisher. Opinions expressed are my own.


About the Author Sharon Wilharm

Christian women’s speaker, Sharon Wilharm, is a ministry leader, podcast host, and female filmmaker whose stories have impacted audiences around the globe. An accomplished storyteller, Sharon draws the audience in with humor, engages them with stories, then ties everything together to bring to light spiritual truths. Her heart’s desire is to encourage women in their walk with the Lord, showing them how to find God’s will for their life through prayer and scripture. “God is the Master Storyteller,” says Sharon. “I love helping women see how God is always at work behind the scenes laying the foundation for the glorious future He has in store for us.” Sharon is a firm believer in the power of prayer and has many stories to share of God working in miraculous ways in her own life as well as those around her. She’s passionate about teaching women how to pray and loves engaging with women in personal prayer. Wherever she goes, she finds herself surrounded by women in need of prayer, and she considers it an honor to pray with women whether they’re friends, family, or complete strangers. Sharon has enjoyed a lifelong fascination with women of the Bible and loves applying the biblical stories to modern situations. She teaches a Women Through the Bible study at her church, applying the S.O.A.P. method of scripture study. She especially enjoys delving into lesser known women and discovering encouraging truths for women of today. She recently launched a new podcast where she works her way through the Bible sharing the stories of All God’s Women.

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