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.