I really, really wanted to give this book more than 3 stars, but in good conscience, I just couldn't. The story on it's own was riveting beyond belief, but I struggled to believe it was a historical novel, especially one set in the early 1800's. Sure, they had no electricity, they farmed their land, they got hot in the summertime because of no air conditioning, but nothing really transported me almost 200 years back in time. I was also easily bored with all the wishy-washy mentions of Rachel returning to England, as well as Nathan thinking that was the best plan for her, too. One other thing that just niggled at me was the overuse of the word "pivot." I know that's small, but when a word that's not used often in every-day conversation is used so much in the span of 300 pages, it becomes noticeable.
Truly, though, I loved the story itself--a stubborn woman with almost nothing to her name determined to make a life for herself and her newborn daughter. Throw in a couple of surprise young'uns that were spitfires at first, then sweethearts shortly thereafter, along with a half-way decent mystery, and it was a mostly pleasing read. However, when I read a historical novel, I long for it to take me back to that distant time and place so I can feel apart of it. That was missing here, and it was too difficult to overlook.
From This Day Forward by Margaret Daley is a delightful tale of Rachel Gordon, a young English woman who has arrived in Charleston, South Carolina shortly after the War of 1812. While en-route to her plantation, she meets with an accident and goes into premature labor. Nathan Stuart happens along the road and comes to her rescue.
Rachel has no desire to be beholding to any man, but seems to have no choice in the matter. Nathan refuses to take her to her new home, unless she agrees for him to help.
Nathan fights his own bitter memories as a former physician. He feels the need to help widow Rachel, but doesn't want to get emotionally involved either.
Conflict and misunderstanding abound as these two try to eek out a living on Rachel's farm. Both desire for it to be a short-term relationship, until Rachel can be on her own. Will they learn to compromise and work together, or continue to be in turmoil?
I found Margaret's book to be a wonderfully woven tale that kept me hooked to each word. I highly recommend this book.
* This book was provided free for review by the author and Summerside Press.
Margaret Daley takes us on a journey to historical Charleston, South Carolina, during the aftermath of the war of 1812, a still somewhat savage land, fraught with outlaws, alligators, and the daily fight for survival. Our heroine, Rachel Gordon, is on her way to Charleston from England with her husband, to settle in their new plantation home, when he falls overboard in a drunken stupor, leaving Rachel to fend for herself in a strange new land; pregnant and alone. There she is met with disappointment, finding only a run down farm near a swamp and her handsome, new neighbor Nathan Stuart.
Nathan Stuart, once a doctor, has given up the profession and has become a self-imposed loner, still deeply affected by the ravages of war. He offers to help Rachel work the farm, and the suspense begins! A dead body is discovered in the farmhouse, someone is stealing things off of her farm...add a couple of alligator attacks in the mix, and you have a wonderful southern romance/suspense novel sure to keep you turning the pages.
This is the first time I have read any of Margaret Daley's novels, and I enjoyed it very much, especially since I live close to Charleston, SC. Ms. Daley's research is impeccable, and her characters very realistic. She deals with some heavy issues...post traumatic stress disorder, spousal abuse, and pregnancy before marriage to name a few, but does so with discretion. I am looking forward to reading more of this author's books. Nicely done!
A beautiful story of love and redemption. Rachel Gordon goes forward in her life with gentleness and care. How we treat others definitely matters.
Through the pine trees Rachel glimpsed a red brick house much like Pinecrest except that this place exuded warmth. A profusion of flowers softened the exterior and welcomed visitors. Rachel immediately thought of her family estate in England. The beat of her heart slowed to a throbbing ache. She missed her sister and two brothers. She missed her parents and wished she were going to her mother for advice about babies, not a woman who was practically a stranger.
~*~ From This Day Forward, page 82.
Join Rachel Gordon as she presses forward after arriving on the shores of Charleston, South Carolina, in the Spring of 1816, expectant with child and only one direction to go: Forward. There is no other choice as her husband purchased what he believed to be a plantation, sight unseen using all their resources. She is newly widowed while coming to an unfamiliar land, now totally in charge of obtaining transportation and moving supplies needed for her journey to her new home with her young maid, Maddy.
The wind picked up, whipping strands of her long brown hair that had escaped its coiffure about her face and threatening to whisk away her bonnet. Lightning zigzagged across the sky, followed by thunder. Maddy jumped in her seat. The gelding's ears flattened.
A chill embedded itself deep in Rachel. She arched her back to ease the pang still plaguing her. Suddenly lightning struck a tree nearby, its flash a beacon in the growing darkness. A crack as the pine split into two pieces echoed through the forest. Immediately afterward, a boom of thunder cleaved the air. Maddy shrieked. The horse increased its pace while a few more splotches of water splashed Rachel. Then all at once rain fell in gray sheets.
The gelding lurched forward even faster. Rachel grasped the reins, trying to maintain control. She pulled on the leather straps to slow the horse. Nothing. He kept galloping down the road, oblivious to his surroundings, as though the hounds of hell were nipping at his hooves.
Rachel glanced from one side to the other but saw little except a wall of gray and green. Another peal of thunder spurred her horse into a dead run. The jostling motion bounced her around, nearly throwing her off the seat. A scream from Maddy competed with the din of the storm.
The cart hit another rut in the road. Rachel flew from the seat, the reins wrenched from her hands. The impact with the ground jarred her, knocking the breath from her lungs. Rain pelted her face as she sucked in oxygen-rich air. Stunned, Rachel closed her eyes against the continual downpour. Everything seemed to come to a standstill, as though her body went numb....
"Help!" Maddy's cries sounded above the rumble of the storm.
~*~ From This Day Forward, pages 9,10.
I give this novel a 5-star rating! It is very well written, detailed in every way while incorporating the times. Rachel opening her arms and sheltering others, goes beyond what she has ever experienced. From being served to serving, Rachel uses her skills and determination to begin anew. It is necessary for her to learn to receive help from others when she previously was the one giving aid. She must earn an income, care for her infant, begin settling her home, learn how to cook and tend the land. Quite an undertaking all at once. There is a lot of action in this book! The interweaving of characters within the story helps in healing the past as consistency and truthfulness build trust. This is not "a figure it out ahead" read, but expanded stories of daily life. I finished this novel in two days while traveling. This is a wholesome book for all ages.
From This Day Forward became available in September 2011 from Summerside Press as part of their new American Tapestry line. You may read the complete first chapter at Margaret Daley's Web site. I received this book from the author in exchange for my review in my own words.