I am not big on sappy romance, but love historical romance when the history has an important presence in the story. This is exactly what I got with Keturah by Lisa Tawn Bergren, a beautifully written historical romance about women of strength in the 18th century.
Lady Keturah Tomlinson, a recent widow, and the oldest of Lord Banning’s three girls, has just received word of her father’s passing, on the Caribbean island of Nevis, where he was overseeing the running of the sugar plantation, Table Top, which provides the wealth for his family. She soon learns that the plantation’s sugar crop has been declining in recent years and that her father has mortgaged the plantation, as well as her family home in England, on a gamble to revive it. If she wishes to save all she has ever known, and provide for her sisters, she must get to Nevis, hire an overseer, and get the next harvest is the ground as quickly as possible. It may sound simple, but for a woman in the 18thcentury practically impossible.
As chance would have it, her childhood friend Gray Covington is also headed to Nevis. He has a small inheritance and plans to use it to revive his family’s own small acreage on Nevis. He is asked by a friend of Lord Banning’s to watch over the Banning girls and provide assistance as best he can. He quickly discovers that Lady Keturah is headstrong and does not trust or want anything to do with him or any other man for that matter. He will have to earn her trust quickly if he is to honor his promise and help her save Table Top.
What made me want to read this book is the setting of the story. I love the Caribbean and have been all over it, including St. Kitts and Nevis. The Caribbean islands are dotted with the remnants of sugar plantations and both English and French forts. Therefore, I was delighted to find that Ms. Bergren accounts where true to the period. In addition, the reality of slavery and women’s rights of the period are never easy subjects to write or read about, yet her story was truthful without being degrading. Keturah is, in short, a thoughtful written fictional account of life on the islands during that time.
While the main story line is the relationship between Keturah and Gray, the subplots worked well with the whole and added more depth to the overall work. Given that the book is at heart a romance, there is not a lot of action; nevertheless, there is enough intrigue and suspense to keep the reader wanting to turn the pages. There is a religious element to the story but it is subtle and not in any way off-putting.
I recommend Keturah to readers of romance and historical fiction both. It is a well done historical fiction and well worth adding to your TBR list.
I received a free copy via Library Thing’s member giveaway.