🏑 "A Reckless Love" (The Daughtry House Series #3) 🏑 (2020) - Book Review




MY REVIEW

Series: The Daughtry House Series Book #3
Hardcover: 368 pages
Publisher: Revell (June 2, 2020)
Language: English
ISBN-10: 080072691X
ISBN-13: 978-0800726911
Click Picture for Purchase Information

In the fine tradition established by her Southern grandmama, Aurora Daughtry has recently orchestrated the marriage of her eldest sister and facilitated her middle sister's engagement. She also rejoices in her part in transforming the family's dilapidated plantation manor into a luxurious and lucrative resort hotel. Just when it seems there is nothing left to absorb her considerable talent for managing people, in walks federal deputy marshal Zane Sager.

But Zane is not at Daughtry House for a vacation. He's tracking a killer and collecting two key witnesses to a federal judge's murder
.”

Thank you in advance to the publisher, Revell Books, for sending me a complimentary advanced reader edition through Interviews and Reviews. A positive review was not required and all words are my own.


As a member of street teams, and review teams such as Interviews & Reviews; I usually look for books that I might want based on previous author experience, they’re highly rated, or as part of a set I already have.

If I can’t find one I’m looking for (or it isn’t up in queue), I look for a book that I wouldn’t ordinarily have bought but still holds some level curiosity for me; especially new books that my library may not have.

Over the past year, I’ve found that this is a good way to sample genres or authors I wouldn’t know about or have ordinarily experienced, and see if I would be interested in their other work(s). It is also a good way to broaden my fiction experiences in a genre I wouldn’t normally seek out.

Since last year, I’ve been reading a LOT more Historical Fiction. It’s one I am still navigating. Yet, as I have discovered – it isn’t necessarily I don’t like the genre, I’m not that familiar with it.

In most cases, the genre has never interested me. There has to be some element that would make me pick out the book, get me to read the first pages, and keep me interested until I close the book. There have been some that have not interested me at all.

And, despite a continually stacked calendar, I still enjoy reading and reviewing. The problem was that I couldn’t find anything I didn’t have or that interested me. Apologies in advance, Ms. Davis (Interviews & Reviews) – so, I went for a challenge. Yup, another Historical Romance – “A Reckless Love” (The Daughtry House Series #3). It had a blurb that immediately caught my eye; in addition, Beth White was a new-to-me author. Definitely a good pick.

But, she didn’t stay that way. I can honestly now say this is the third (3rd) book of hers I have read. And, it was a GREAT pick!

Seeing that the title I requested was book three of this series, I uncharacteristically went and bought the previous two books from Amazon:

** A Rebel Heart
** A Reluctant Belle

With the beautiful covers – who could blame me for giving them a try?

Unlike some series that vary with the design, these are all the same basic design – the house at the bottom, and the featured sister on top. Each one has their own different “color” scheme that contrast and complement each other - blue/Selah; orange/Joelle; pinkish-purple/Aurora.  



What I thoroughly enjoyed about the Daughtry House Series was that they weren’t just a Historical Romance series about a trio of sisters – they also had an element of suspense to them. Usually the suspense revolved around the sister’s intended love interest. For me there is more emphasis on the suspense rather than the romance, so I’m not too disappointed in that.

It is this suspense that the sisters find themselves in the middle of. What makes this series even better – it is connected. Not by a town, a character, but a sequence of violent events that begins with the first book and that plot is carried over into books #2 and #3.

Since this is part of a series, I definitely don’t recommend it as a standalone read. While it could work, it would greatly benefit the reader to read the previous two novels mentioned above. Since I did read them, that’s probably what enhanced my enjoyment of the series, and this book in particular.

After all, the first book, A Rebel Heart literally started off as a train wreck. The second book, A Reluctant Belle, was explosive and fiery. This third one, A Reckless Love – is quite the bullet. Readers of the books will notice the slight “puns” I added.

The books pick up one right after the other – five (5) years after the final shot of the Civil War. The first book begins in February 1870, and this picks up in June. This series/story line doesn’t stretch out over years or an undetermined amount of time. The timeline is coherent, believable, and practical.

The books are in the order of the sisters’ birth order – Selah, Joelle, Aurora. A Reckless Love is the youngest sister Aurora’s story.

Some trigger warnings might include: murder, racism, slavery, the KKK, questionable language, gender insults

This book is far less controversial than the middle book, but still as exciting. There is less emphasis on the racial tension/tones while relying heavily on the “action” and the investigation.

In the blurb on the ARC, along with the description on Goodreads – Zane’s last name is Sabiere. Yet, in the ARC I have, it is Sager from beginning to end. As I don’t have a finished copy – I can’t exactly state what his last name is. From the description on the author’s website, Amazon, as well as Bookbub – it stated SAGER. That is what I am going to use in this review.

In the prologue, set in April 1865, there is an explosion aboard a boat, the Sultana, which is being used to ferry former Union troops home. This is where we learn about the strong friendship between Deputy U.S Marshal Zane Sager and Judge Teague. Readers familiar to the series will remember that Teague was murdered in book two. That murder is currently unsolved … until now. Sorry for the spoiler if you haven’t read book two, but that is what brings Zane to us in this installment. This also brings in Aurora and her grandparents connection to one of the men in the “plot” and Zane.

Like some have noted – the romance is left on the back burner for the suspense element. Some previously mentioned “minor” characters return, and some do not. Some have little to no lines or have been reduced to background players.  

What I enjoyed about this book (and series) was the aspect where the case was still being solved despite the arrest of two men. This is due to the fact that the main villain(s) have yet to surface and/or be captured. This also touches on why Zane is as standoffish as he is.

However, he can’t seem to resist Aurora’s charm. Nor will she let him.

Zane and Aurora were so mismatched that it was a sheer delight to watch them interact. Despite being the youngest, she didn’t let it deter her from staking her claim on the lawman.

But, Zane isn’t the only thing on Aurora’s mind – she and her sisters have been left a shuttered saloon. This is the part I found endearing and even humorous. For me, it was a spark of some normality in a rough period. In addition it was like some ray of sunshine through dark clouds.

As they had and were still in the process of, renovating their home, they now had another project. Immediately the thought is to turn it into a boarding house. But, it comes with two occupants – Bedelia and Rosie, two former saloon girls.

As usual – the Daughtry girls (namely Joelle and Aurora) are going to attempt to fine tune the two saloon girls and fix up what would become Dogwood Manor to be a respectable rooming house, though even at the end it (like the Daughtry House) had a ways to go to before being ready to take in guests.

In addition, the two men from the previous novel are heading to trial and need protection. This is where it gets tense and that tension gets broken appropriately with Zane and Aurora’s unconventional courting. Some of the previous characters will be “exposed” for who they are. As I had already read the previous books; I sort of saw these changes, digs, and barbs leading up to a final confrontation. A slight spoiler – I am still waiting for Gil to get his comeuppance.

Like the other two – this is well written, engaging, riveting, and attention grabbing. There were times it was even thrilling and an edge-of-seat read. I found I held my breath in a few places. It doesn’t really differ from the previous two novels. The plot runs smoothly and coherently. Given this is an advanced review copy, the typos are minimal. Even in the finished version of A Rebel Heart, there was the huge double sentence error. Thankfully this book escapes major errors.

In the author’s notes, White is careful to admit that there may be small plot threads she wasn’t able to wrap or tie up due to a lack of space. I did have some questions, but since the author acknowledges them and explains them – mentioning them isn’t necessary as I know why they weren’t tied up. She is right in that the main story is concluded to some degree of satisfaction. To me it was a little quick with the ending, but still somewhat satisfactory. I was slightly disappointed with a few things in it, but naming them would result in major spoilers.

Despite this being what I assume to be the last book of the series – as the bookend, it keeps the momentum that started in A Rebel Heart and A Reluctant Belle. It carries it through all the way up until the startling end.

This was very difficult to put down. I have to admit it does stand out as one of the best of the series. I was far too busy reading it to keep notes. In addition I had to re-edit when I read the book on Goodreads as I read this so fast I forgot to mark that I was CURRENTLY READING it.

As far as the other characters – I already admire how much Aurora grew and matured from the first novel. There was so much more to her than the dainty little girl some were intent to present her as. Her tenacity and spunk were quite admirable. More growth here, even during a few surprising confrontations.

There wasn’t much of Selah in it this time around. Levi and Schuyler remained the same and drifted somewhat to the background more than I expected. Joelle was less focused on her writing and her school efforts (though I do hope they rebuild the school). ThomasAnne and Doc’s relationship makes progression towards the end of the novel but it is mostly left out. However, ThomasAnne does reveal something to Aurora that I wouldn’t have expected at all. And, given the time it is set in – it was scandalous. I praise the author for tackling it as tactfully as she did. It was stunning but provided insight into her character.

As of note – I would definitely be interested in reading her story as part of a standalone novel (hint to the writer).

What shocked me the most was what Grandmama Winnie did at the end when Aurora was in danger. From the first book, I wasn’t sure what to make of this grand ole gal. She seemed pretentious and uptight. But, by the end of this book – I was almost laughing at her tenacity. Despite a tragic and gruesome incident, I was laughing. This was a good thing as I came to respect the crusty lady and her gumption. It was a character trait, that in retrospect I should’ve expected, but I sure didn’t see it coming. I enjoy those sweet surprises.  

There was a balance of character development, suspense, and a family theme that truly rounds out this novel. While I knew that the era was a painful time for the country (and even now it is a sore spot) – this novel truly highlighted it in a respectful and tactful manner.

As this is distributed by Revell, a Christian/faith themed publisher, there are several references to God and faith. They are not a central part of the plot or focus of the story. It is a clean read with no sex scenes or foul language. The only questionable thing might be when a business owner refers to the Daughty siblings using not only a somewhat racial slur, but a gender slur as well. To some it could be vulgar or alarming.

Some words of “caution” for potential readers – PLEASE note that this does take place about five (5) AFTER the Civil War in 1870. There will be some references to slavery, prejudice, racism, as well as other language and terms that are authentic to the era. While some of it can be offensive, using it in this story; set in that time; gives the story historical accuracy while being respectful and sensitive of the complex social issue on race relations.

One cannot write or author an authentic Civil War or Re-Constructionist Era novel without being authentic to the vernacular or attitudes. The author herself acknowledges that some of the language back in that time was offensive and that some of the terminology was toned down due to the fact she and her editor felt there was no reason to be deliberately inflammatory.

I respect White for remaining as historically accurate as possible and believe she has done a wonderful job balancing that accuracy while maintaining a respectful/sensitive tone towards slavery, the injustices as a result, and the feelings of those involved.

These historical romance/fiction/suspense novels are also a great way to learn about history or learn enough about it to seek out more information about it.

I would suggest this to anyone who is a fan of her previous works, anyone interested in the re-constructionist era that also loves a great suspense with a touch of romance. But, as stated previously, I do very much suggest reading the previous two books.



RATING:

⭐⭐⭐⭐/5 ⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐ – Goodreads

⭐⭐⭐⭐/5 ⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐ – Bookbub

⭐⭐⭐⭐/5 ⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐ – Personal Rating (see rating explanation in this blog: https://readingexcursions.blogspot.com/2020/01/rating-system-2020-changes.html)



Other Books in the Series:

Series: The Daughtry House Series Book #1
Hardcover: 384 pages
Publisher: Revell (June 5, 2018)
Language: English
ISBN-10: 0800726898
ISBN-13: 978-0800726898
Click Picture for Purchase Information

Five years after the final shot was fired in the War Between the States, Selah Daughtry can barely manage to keep herself, her two younger sisters, and their spinster cousin fed and clothed. With their family's Mississippi plantation swamped by debt and the Big House falling down around them, the only option seems to be giving up their ancestral land.

Pinkerton agent and former Union cavalryman Levi Riggins is investigating a series of robberies and sabotage linked to the impoverished Daughtry plantation. Posing as a hotel management agent for the railroad, he tells Selah he'll help her save her home, but only if it is converted into a hotel. With Selah otherwise engaged with renovations, Levi moves onto the property to "supervise" while he actually attends to his real assignment right under her nose.

Selah isn't sure she entirely trusts the handsome Yankee, but she'd do almost anything to save her home. What she never expected to encounter was his assault on her heart.



Series: The Daughtry House Series Book #2
Hardcover: 368 pages
Publisher: Revell (June 4, 2019)
Language: English
ISBN-10: 0800726901
ISBN-13: 978-0800726904
Click Picture for Purchase Information

Impoverished Southern belle Joelle Daughtry has a secret. By day she has been helping her sisters in their quest to turn the run-down family plantation into a resort hotel after the close of the Civil War. But by night and under a male pseudonym, she has been penning articles for the local paper in support of the construction of a Negro school. With the Mississippi arm of the Ku Klux Klan gaining power and prestige, Joelle knows she is playing a dangerous game.

When childhood enemy and current investor in the Daughtry house renovation Schuyler Beaumont takes over his assassinated father's candidacy for state office, Joelle finds that in order to protect her family and her home, she and Schuyler will have to put aside their longstanding personal conflict and develop a united public front. The trouble is, what do you do when animosity becomes respect--and even love--if you're already engaged to someone else
?”



ABOUT THE AUTHOR


Beth White’s day job is teaching music at an inner-city high school in historic Mobile, Alabama. A Native Mississippian, she writes historical romance with a Southern drawl and is the author of A Rebel Heart and A Reluctant Belle, as well as the Gulf Coast Chronicles series. Her novels have won the American Christian Fiction Writers Carol Award, the RT Book Club Reviewers’ Choice Award, and the Inspirational Reader’s Choice Award. Learn more at www.bethwhite.net.


You can follow her on the following social media accounts:





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