It is 1793, and Ian Cameron has returned to Mountain Laurel, his uncle’s plantation in North Carolina, where he spent time as a boy. Now a grown man, he is being groomed as his uncle’s heir. When Ian sees Seona for the first time, he is immediately captivated by her green eyes and does not realize she is enslaved to his kin. When he learns of Seona’s hidden talent as an artist, he encourages it and finds ways for her to hide it from his cruel step-aunt, Lucinda. Lucinda does not believe slaves should read, write, or do anything to take time away from their chores. The story is told from the alternating viewpoints of Ian and Seona, who has hidden her art all her life. “Every slave has a secret. This one is mine.” As time progresses, Ian finds himself conflicted between his growing feelings for Seona, his loyalty to his family, and his responsibility to all those enslaved on the plantation.
This heart-rending book from Benton shows us all the horrors of slavery. In addition to the beatings, rapes, terror, and torture, it shows the true effects of taking away someone’s will and refusing to let them have any dreams or desires. It shows how some people of that time watched slaves being paraded down the road in chains, did nothing, and then went to church on Sunday. Lori Benton writes about this as if she were there, laying bare the pain of someone else owning your body and your soul. However, faith and the desire for redemption are also present, especially in the quiet faith of the slave Lily and the redemption Ian desperately seeks.
This is the first book in the Kindred series, and I cannot wait to see these characters return.
I received a free copy of this book from the publishers via Historical Novels Review Magazine. My opinions are my own.