Author: Valerie Fraser Luesse
Genre: Historical Romance
Release Date: August 3, 2021
"Come spend a few hours in Bernadette, Louisiana. You might find you don't want to leave! I know I didn't."--Lynette Eason, bestselling, award-winning author of the Danger Never Sleeps series
When Ellie Fields accepts a teaching job in a tiny Louisiana town deep in bayou country in 1949, she knows her life will change--but she could never imagine just how dramatically.
Though rightfully suspicious of outsiders, who have threatened both their language and their unique culture, most of the residents come to appreciate the young and idealistic schoolteacher, and she's soon teaching just about everyone, despite opposition from both the school board and a politician with ulterior motives. Yet it's the lessons Ellie herself will learn--from new friends, a captivating Cajun fisherman, and even a legendary white alligator haunting the bayou--that will make all the difference.
Take a step away from the familiar and enter the shadowy waters of bayou country for a story of risk, resilience, and romance.
Reviewer: Beverly Laude
Juliet "Ellie" Fields is a young schoolteacher who is searching for more than she has with her life in Alabama. After a broken engagement from a man determined to control her life, she decides to take a job in a small Cajun community in Louisiana. On her trip to Bernadette, she stops off in New Orleans to enjoy the sights and meets a young man from Illinois named Heywood Thornberry. (Even though he is not from the South, I have never heard a more Southern name in my life!).
Upon arriving in Bernadette, Ellie is thrown into a completely different way of life. She finds herself living in a cabin along Bayou Teche without electricity or running water, commuting to her job in a pirogue instead of a car. She soon learns that the Cajun children are terrified to attend school because of the school board's insistence that they be punished for speaking French while in school.
Raphael "Rafe" Broussard is a young Cajun, born and raised on the Bayou and trying to raise his young nephew, Remy. When Rafe and Ellie meet, they instantly feel a connection and romance starts to bloom. Ellie learns about the history of the Cajuns, their way of life, the culture and the folklore of the area. She is determined to make the children love school and enjoy learning instead of being terrified.
This book won my heart right away and was very reminiscent of my favorite book, "To Kill A Mockingbird" because of its setting in a simpler time in the South. But, there are plenty of poignant moments as Ellie deals with prejudice, hatred, and loss in this small community.
There are also several villainous characters that made my skin crawl and enough tension to keep things moving at a quick pace.
The author has done a wonderful job with character development and she has really captured the feel of the Bayou in this book. I especially enjoyed the inclusion of the customs, folklore and food of the area that she incorporated into the book. I know that this will be a book that I will reread often and will remain one of my all time favorites.
I received a complimentary copy of this book from Revell, a division of Baker Publishing Group, through Interviews & Reviews in exchange for an honest opinion. The views expressed by this reviewer are entirely my own.
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