Author: Sharlene MacLaren
Genre: Historical Romance
Two years after the Civil War, Lydia Albright, 27, is an established teacher in Boston when she senses God’s call to leave the comfort and security of her job and go south. She accepts a position to teach in a school for former slaves in Charleston, South Carolina. A church there that's affiliated with the American Missionary Association offers support, along with room and board at the parsonage.
The Ku Klux men are hell-bent on seeing that the new school fails. Lydia’s life is threatened, and the parsonage, church, and school are vandalized.
But they haven't contended with a strong, determined woman like Lydia before. It also helps that she has a couple of potential suitors on her side.
A Love to Behold is a tale of people who grow strong in the face of adversity and a church that learns love, compassion, and acceptance, even in the face of cruelty and hatred.
Reviewer: Becky Hrivnak
A Love to Behold, by Sharlene MacLaren, is an excellent read! I love the era as Civil War/Post Civil War novels are one of my faves in historical Christian fiction.
My favorite character was Reese. The kind of guy that can raise three children without the help of his family, keep a good testimony, and hard working...loved how MacLaren showed what a gentleman should be like even in the midst of adversity.
I've not read other books by this author, but I definitely will seek others out after this excellent read!
If you're a post Civil War buff and want to read how truly terrible it could be for former slaves at that time, this read is for you. Well done!
I was given a copy of this book by the publisher through Interviews & Reviews website. All thoughts and comments were my own.
Reviewer: Caroline Star
What a thoroughly delightful book to read! A Love to Behold is about Lydia, a young lady who teaches at a school in Charleston for former slaves. Along the way, Lydia's life is threatened multiple times by the Ku Klux men. Normally, I don't find this type of story enjoyable, but A Love to Behold was excellently done. It was so engaging that I read it all in one sitting, which doesn't happen often in my experience. I can tell that Ms. Sharlene MacLaren did her research in the historical aspect of this book - the story matched what I expected would be the feel of a post Civil-War setting perfectly.
I absolutely adored the characters as well. Reese, the male protagonist, will be a character that I will remember for awhile, and I admire Lydia's courage and determination as her life is threatened. While there was a bit of a love triangle, none of the usual drama accompanied it, which was SO refreshing. I definitely loved reading about the romance so much as it developed. This book is a keeper and I would highly recommend it to historical fiction fans (I mean, hey, I'm not a historical fiction fan myself, but I thoroughly enjoyed this story).
Reviewer: Nicole Wegscheider
The book, A Love to Behold is an outstanding story of the impact of President Lincoln’s abolition of slavery in the community of Charleston, South Carolina. Under the direction of a church initiative, a new school for black children to read and to write for the first time is being implemented. Lydia Albright — a white, female teacher and newcomer to Charleston, feels a strong calling by God to support this new school. The Charleston community has mixed responses.
The tapestry of the story unfolds with so many fascinating elements flowing together. Reese Lawton — a widower, family man and affluent businessman his life was powerfully transformed by God through an agent of God, Miss Wiggins, a former childhood family slave. Reese is a supporter of the new school whereas his father and brother are not supportive. An abandoned and homeless mulatto child runs the streets to survive. There are very interesting discoveries regarding this homeless child.
Due to undesirable school conditions, one of Reese’s youngest children, Owen, a white child, joins the new school and he begins to thrive. Meanwhile, a new chapter of the Ku Klux Klan is formulating in Charleston, implementing fear tactics directed towards the new teacher. In the midst of all these challenging experiences new, supportive and encouraging relationships are developing between Reese Lawton and Lydia Albright, Lydia and the black children, Lydia and Owen, Reese, Lydia and the homeless mulatto child and Lydia with the community. I like two powerful messages — as we trust in God, he will direct our path and all things (no matter how messy they might appear) to work together for good. I particularly liked the kindness and the acts of love directed towards the homeless child by Reese and Lydia.
In my opinion, Sharlene MacLaren’s book, A Love to Behold is an outstanding story that unfolds like a movie. I would highly recommend this book.
Reviewer: Laura J. Davis
If you have been reading the Forever Freedom Series by Sharlene MacLaren from the beginning, you will be tremendously satisfied with the ending.
I love that even though each book is part of a series, they can easily be read alone without feeling lost. Case in point, somehow I missed book two and read book one and then book three!
A Love to Behold has all the elements you want in a historical romance - mystery, romance and danger. Lydia Albright is a spunky young lady who has nerves of steel. And she needs them when she relocates from Boston to Charleston to run a school for former slaves. The newly formed group, the Ku Klux Klan, are determined to stop her and with a strength of character and gentleness that shows her Quaker upbringing, Lydia meets their challenges head-on. But first, she has another issue to deal with - her growing feelings for Reese Lawton, a local widower and father of three.
I believe I am going to miss Reese and Lydia! I was drawn into the story immediately and found it hard putting this book down. Good thing I'm a night owl! I finished the book in two days, but I like to give the story a bit of time to soak into my soul before I write my review.
A Love to Behold may be historical fiction, but it is a heartwarming tale with a timely message. I highly recommend it.