I bought this book and read it in one sitting. I bought it based on the blurb on the back cover: Sherman's march to the sea, an old plantation, family secrets and entanglements, the beautiful Erin Hughes, what could be better? I didn't expect to find so much in such a small package though. If I tried to list all the various plots and subplots, this review would be as long as the novel I am strongly recommending. I'm still trying to fathom how the author accomplished this.
Main character Dhari Weston has a life that is becoming too typical of us all: she is busy with deadlines at work, overwhelmed with care giving for a mentally unstable mother, over burdened with guilt and a secret fear that her mother's condition might be genetic. She has a girlfriend, but she doesn't have enough time to even speculate whether Jamie is being faithful or not. (How busy is that?) On top of everything, she inherits a Southern plantation from an aunt she never knew: one more thing to take care of. Taking time away from the job, the girlfriend who needs watching, the mother's undiagnosed but very real illness, she flies to Atlanta, determined to handle the sale of the property quickly and get back on track.
There she meets the appealing Dr. Erin Hughes, brought in to research the provenance and history of the place she inherited, and Nessie Tinker, an old friend of her aunt's, and as facts from her family's past are revealed, so is her affection for both Nessie and the lovely Erin. More complications in a too complicated life. Unwillingly drawn into the secrets from the past, including an extramarital relationship during the Civil War uncovered in diaries and letters, and reluctantly admitting to an attraction to Erin, the appeal of the old plantation, and her family's hidden background, Dhari finds herself revealing secrets of her own, facing fears, struggling to overcome them, and doing something people like her find all too difficult to accomplish: letting go of some of the responsibility for things she can't control or change. All of us should take a step back and look at what we sacrifice in our too busy lives. And we should take the kind of chance Erin and Dhari take, when presented to us.
I was born and raised in the South, and graduated with a degree in history, so I can attest to the accuracy of the research that must have gone into this work. The characters were deftly drawn, the settings believable, the plots intriguing. Only one mystery is left: how did so much get crammed into so few pages? Nessie, Erin, Dhari, Jamie, her brother Douglas, her father, her mother, especially Erin's father, even Pippin the dog, all are delightful and fully realized. As a writer myself, I have nothing but praise for the job done here by Ms. Martin. This is an excellently researched, well written, and very entertaining book.