About the Book
Book: Lawfully Innocent
Author: Robin Helm
Genre: Historical Romance
Release Date: August 31, 2019
Benjamin Beckett, a handsome young English lord, lacks purpose in his life of privilege. After learning the truth about his heritage, he decides to leave unbearable boredom behind, making drastic changes in his too predictable life.
About the Author
Robin Helm’s books reflect her love of music, as well as her fascination with the paranormal and science fiction.
More from Robin
I grew up in South Carolina during the 1960’s and 1970’s when the Civil Rights Act of 1964 became law. South Carolina did not comply immediately, so I remember my doctor’s office with two waiting rooms, two water fountains, and two doors, both leading to the same doctor and same examination room. It seemed very strange to me even then. I did not know any African American children, because schools, restaurants, churches, the town pool, the public health center, our neighborhoods – everything – was segregated.
Set in the 1840s, Robin Helm’s “Lawfully Innocent” begins in England but takes place mostly in South Carolina. An antebellum novella, it interested me because of the unique perspective of the hero, Benjamin Beckett, raised as a member of the upper class in a country that had already abolished the importation of African slaves and passed an Emancipation Act, then immigrating to South Carolina to run the Magnolia Heights plantation. This is an interesting viewpoint to consider, and although I appreciated it in this story, overall I felt that the novella fell a bit flat.
“Lawfully Innocent” is a nice, short tale and can easily be read in one sitting. And that’s part of my problem with it. In my opinion, Helm covers too many events while simultaneously not giving readers much in the way of conflict or tension, resulting in a cursory story that is quaint but not memorable. For a young audience, I think that this would work well, but the young adult/adult target audience here doesn’t seem to be a good fit. The plot is very idealistic and unrealistic for the time and place, almost harkening back to the nineteenth-century sentimental novel. Lack of a central conflict leaves readers adrift, and while there are a few brief dramatic episodes, these are easily and quickly resolved.
This is not to say that I didn’t enjoy this novella, because I did; I was just looking for more. Moses was my favorite character, and what little we know about him comes through Benjamin’s reflections and two fleeting scenes. I didn’t really connect with any of the characters; the way in which they are written is impersonal. They were one-dimensional and superficial and therefore difficult to relate to. I also found them to be too picture-perfect; it would be wonderful if life was really like this, especially prior to the Civil War, but sadly it wasn’t and still isn’t.
In that regard, I think that “Lawfully Innocent” offers a beautiful portrait of Christ-like behavior, to which we should all aspire. As Benjamin remarks early on, “He [God] may use me to make life better for an oppressed people.” Benjamin also realizes something that the rest of the nation misses, for the large part, until decades later (and in some cases, even longer!): “People who are independent and responsible for their own advancement make better employees”. Indeed, the points that Helm makes throughout this novella are prudent and encouraging, demonstrating the positive difference that we as Christians can make in our own families and communities, fulfilling our Savior’s call.
I received a complimentary copy of this book through CelebrateLit and was not required to post a favorable review. All opinions are my own.
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