The Last Heiress by Mary Ellis
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Publisher: Harvest House Publishers
Publishing Date: February 1, 2015
When Amanda Dunn sets sail from England for Wilmington, North Carolina, she hopes to somehow restore shipments of raw materials for her family's textile mills, which have been severely disrupted by the American Civil War. Though there is not much one individual can do, the wealthy young woman feels she must try, as her mother and hundreds of employees at Dunn Textiles are dependent on Southern cotton.I received a copy of this book from the publisher via Netgalley in exchange for an honest review. All opinions are my own. Buy a copy today!
When Amanda meets Nathaniel Cooper, her desire to conduct business and quickly return to England changes. Though captivated by one another, neither is fully aware of the other's true nature.
Nathaniel, who on the outside appears to be a poor but hardworking merchant, is actually a secret Yankee sympathizer who will stop at almost nothing to bring about freedom for those who live under subjugation, even when that involves questionable judgment. And Amanda's wealth is made possible by underpaid workers living in slums around the mills, not much different than American slavery.
Can these two earnest souls find the best in one another rather than focus on what could tear them apart? And though they both believe they are on God's path, how will their decisions affect those around them?
The best words to describe "The Last Heiress" would be 'sweeping saga'. Ellis knew the story she wanted to tell and she took the time and effort to make it work.
Twin sisters, separated by an ocean, are reunited once again. Amanda is sent to North Carolina on behalf of her father's textile mill. Instead, she builds a friendship with her estranged sister, learns about Southern culture, and makes friends with Nathaniel, the local grocer.
A marriage is rekindled. Abigail left her family and country to marry Jackson, who is kind and meets her every need. At the beginning of the story, their marriage seems distance and cool. Through all the events that occur in the book, we get to witness Jackson grow and change and the two grow closer together. It feels so natural that I wonder if Ellis if set out to do this on purpose.
Love ignited. Never expecting to find love, Amanda unexpectedly finds herself in a growing friendship with handsome store owner, Nathaniel. Their relationship is candid, argumentative, and frowned upon by her rich brother-in-law. Still, Amanda wonders if she could ever leave her father, mother, and country like Abigail did, just for a man.
I had a few dislikes about the book. First, the opening premise of Amanda traveling for her father's mill never gets fleshed out. Ellis could have had Amanda head to America under any other guise and the story would have worked out just the same. I was disappointed in our heroine's character because she didn't follow through with her promise to her father and the company she would inherit.
Second, 'Heiress' had a pretty slow pace. Overall, I think the story is like a mixture of "Gone with the Wind" and "Pride and Prejudice". Slow, formal, set in the South during the Civil War, and the main characters deal with a lot of pride and prejudices. For a lot of readers, this would be fantastic. And if you loved reading "Gone With the Wind", than I think you would like this one as well. I, however, didn't enjoy that novel. So while I appreciated the storytelling, time period, length, and effort by the author, it just wasn't my cup of tea.
My rating? 3.5 stars. But like I said, if you are looking for a Civil War saga, 'Heiress' is a book you would certainly enjoy!