Carolina gold. At first glance, you may associate the title with the golden beaches of South Carolina’s coast, or maybe a dazzling sunset over the Atlantic’s shoreline. Though the title of this historical romance does not exclude those things in its meaning, you might be surprised to learn that the warm and fuzzy feeling the title gives you actually refers to rice. Yep, that’s right – rice. Set among the marshes and beaches of South Carolina, this book gives you a glimpse into the struggles of rice planters who dreamed of resurrecting their plantations after the Civil War. The heroin in this story, Charlotte, dreams of returning to her childhood home/plantation after her father’s death and growing Carolina Gold – a superb brand of rice South Carolina planters were famous for before the war.
The story is set in 1868 in the Charleston area of South Carolina, though you’ll see references to many notable places throughout the book; Georgetown, Pawley’s Island and Winyah Bay, just to name a few. I’ve been to Pawley’s Island once and just visited Charleston for the first time this spring, so you could say that my visits to the area were a major influence when thinking about purchasing this book. I must say, I wasn’t disappointed. The author’s writing style made me fall in love with the land all over again. After my own ferry ride on the Cooper River to Fort Sumter in April, I could easily imagine Charlotte riding the Pee Dee River as she traveled to and from her plantation. Also, a visit to Boone Hall Plantation gave me insights into why the plantations have such long driveways, what a “slave street” was, and how far the distance between the fields and the house would be.
The heroine, Charlotte Fraser, is a young lady who grew up following her father around his rice plantation; instilling in her a love of the land and the rice they grew on it. During the Reconstruction of the South after the Civil War, Charlotte is determined to revive the plantation and once again grow Carolina Gold. When she returns to her childhood home, the reality of such a dream grows dimmer and dimmer. Her neighbors experience the same struggles. If a seasoned rice planter like Mr. Hadley couldn’t make a go of it, how could she? A woman?
The hero of the book is a French gentleman who moves into a neighboring plantation from New Orleans. Nicholas Betancourt meets Charlotte and immediately offers her a position to be governess for his two young daughters who are in desperate need of formal education. Young, handsome, and single, the matchmaking begins among some of the books other characters. But after a while, Nick disappears during a trip to New Orleans. With his young daughters in Charlotte’s care, worries rise when he doesn’t reply to Charlotte’s letters. Did he abandon his children? Was he in trouble? When was he coming home?
Conclusion: Carolina Gold was my first read with a Dorothy Love book and as I stated above, I was impressed. The author’s style reminded me of Tamera Alexander’s Belle Meade Plantation and Belmont Mansion books; the love story was sweet, the land came alive with beautiful descriptions and the issues of the time period portrayed honestly – yet, with depth that pulls you into the struggles these people faced when life and laws changed. I enjoyed how the author portrayed the romantic part of the book. So often, love stories are accused of depicting “perfect” men who, as some say, don’t exist in real life. Well, you would have a hard time putting Nick in that stereotype! Though this hero was likeable, he was also practical in all that he did. Also, there was a good amount of time when he was absent from the story. Likewise, Charlotte wasn’t your girl who was on the hunt for a man. She wanted to make a way for herself, but found a friend in her neighbor and that friendship slowly developed into something more. Finally, I loved how Dorothy Love integrated the uniqueness of the land into the story. There were no boring descriptions of rice, sand or marshes, instead, each line dropped here and there added to the story and made it more beautiful… Or maybe I’m just in love with the Carolina coast from my visit there! Either way, Carolina Gold gets five stars from me! I highly recommend!
To me, there are three different ratings for romance…the way-to-gushy romance, the love at first sight/passionate romance and the sweet romance that makes friends, couples. Carolina Gold is definitely the sweet romance.
Paperback – from CBD
Kindle – from Amazon