Hillman (Claiming Mariah) sets this eloquent novel in volatile 18th-century Natchez, Miss. It is 1791, and Connor O’Shea, a highly skilled carpenter, has indentured himself to a local property owner to pay for his four brothers’ passage to America from Ireland. His new employer is Isabella Bartholomew, the only daughter of Breeze Hill plantation owner Master Bartholomew. After a house fire severely damaged the plantation and other disasters befell the family, Isabella is determined to get everything back to peak condition, and she believes Connor is perfect for the job. When they arrive at Breeze Hill, Connor observes a dearth of help to run such a vast property; he wonders if the family’s financial troubles run deeper than Isabella let on and whether she can be trusted to live up to her end of the bargain. The trials and tribulations of keeping the business afloat combine with predictable romantic sparks and the suspicion there might be someone intent on sabotaging the plantation. Hillman breezily weaves together colorful details, romantic tensions, and suspenseful plotting in this fun historical romance.
In the first of her new Natchez Trace series, Hillman carries readers to antebellum Mississippi in an entertaining tale. Greed, murder, and glimpses of the slave trade give it depth, while the subtle Christian themes provide hope.
In 1791, Connor O’Shea arrives in Natchez, MS, from Ireland as an indentured servant. But his plan to send for his four brothers at the end of his term is thwarted by the untimely death of his master and the purchase of his papers by Isabella Bartholomew, who seeks a carpenter to help rebuild a burned wing of her family’s plantation home, Breeze Hill. Neighbor Nolan James Braxton is courting Isabella, yet his intentions are anything but honest. Although Isabella and Connor develop feelings for each other, she needs to keep the plantation running and seriously considers Nolan’s proposal. It is not long before Connor realizes that someone is trying to take over Breeze Hill and Isabella’s life. VERDICT Though some readers may have concerns about a relationship between characters with such a power imbalance, Hillman’s (Claiming Mariah) series launch set in antebellum Mississippi effectively mixes intrigue and suspense with a healthy dose of romance and historical details.