As elegant as the Sacramento residence she operates, Isabelle Labrie keeps her past concealed, like the treasure she hides under the Golden Hotel. It’s 1853, the heyday of the California Gold Rush. Isabelle is full of hope, staking her claim on the city’s refined clientele and her future on a sweetheart’s promise to marry her when he returns from the gold fields. Then, unexpected guests—fugitive slaves seeking safe passage to the North—force her to confront her past and reconsider her path.
While Isabelle learns to trust God’s provisions, a law student in Virginia must confront his father’s cruelty and rescue a young slave from his family’s tobacco plantation. As the two escape to freedom, and Isabelle risks everything to harbor runaway slaves, the past and present are set on an inevitable collision course—one that reveals hidden treasures of the heart.
Melanie Dobson can tell a good story. I started this book and planned to just read the first chapter….and then a few hours later I was finished. My thoughts:
What I liked:
The time period. I love historical novels. I particularly love historical novels that deal with the issue of slavery. This novel definitely handles the ugliness of slavery from several points of view. Slavery can often be presented in…a very cheesy way (yes, it can). Especially as it relates to how white people view or treat slaves. However, I am happy to say that I thought Dobson did a really good job, particularly since she made the slaves in her book to be more than mammies and really good-close-to-the-family servants. They had thoughts, opinions and dreams that were separate from their owners (as you can see, this is important to me).
Diversity. I love when there are rich, diverse characters.
The plot. Some of it is predictable. However, it was still so good. Somehow you manage to learn about slavery, the Fugitive slave law, the California gold rush, and the American legal system without feeling like you’re learning about all of these things.
Spiritually, the novel has Christian characters who pray and stand up for what they believe in.
What I didn’t like:
I took off a mental star because of the romance. In some ways, this is not a romance book. It’s a historical novel with romance in it. However, I think if we could have really seen the romance develop, this would have been an even stronger novel. Maybe it’s not fair to judge this book by the romance, but I’m a romance reader *shrugs*.
Romantic scale: 7.5
Overall, a very good, quick read. It’s not exactly light reading, but I still flew through the pages and definitely recommend.