Review of EVER MY LOVE by Gretchen Craig (see her website)
Zebra, May 2007
Since spending time in the north, Marianne Johnson's belief in the institution of slavery has been shattered. She does her best to nurse back to health those slaves who are captured and injured by slavers, and she tries to provide a positive environment for her own servant, but her father and brother, not she, are responsible for the plantation. To look the other way when slaves try to escape is one thing: to break the law and actually help them escape would be something else--wouldn't it.
Yves Chamard sees war coming as the south clings to the institution of slavery even after the entire rest of the world has outlawed it. He won't fight for the institution, even if his friends and other members of his class see him as a traitor. Instead, he's played his role as a 'shepherd' for the underground railroad while he prepares to head for the north. His one regret--he certainly wouldn't be able to offer the beautiful Marianne Johnson the kind of life she's accustomed to, that she deserves. Not that he has much reason to believe Marianne would accept his proposal--except that he can't be ignoring the attraction that flows between them.
When Yves's black half-brother is kidnapped by slavers, Yves isn't available to serve as shepherd and Marianne must face her fears and learn whether her hatred of slavery can translate into action. But an attack by slavers throws Marianne and Yves together and their chances to be nothing more than friends are shattered. Still, how can they find hapiness when their entire culture is about to be convulsed in violence?
Author Gretchen Craig (see more BooksForABuck.com reviews of novels by Craig) doesn't pull any punches in this ante-bellum romance. Sure the upper classes of the white south lead priviledged and beautiful lives, but these are lives built on the suffering of their slaves. No matter how well some masters attempt to treat their slaves, those human beings remain property--and this disease of the soul cannot be avoided. In her effort to do justice to this painful truth, author Gretchen Craig neverheless manages to keep a focus on the relationship between Yves and Marianne as they come to terms with one another and with the roles they must play in a society that is rotten to its core, no matter how beautiful its outward appearance. I strongly recommend EVER MY LOVE by Gretchen Craig.
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