Usually before I start a book, I like to read the synopsis on the book jacket or on the internet in the case of an e-book. I like to get a feel for the story before I dive in. In the case of Beloved Destiny by Carol Ann Fears, I was excited because it seemed like it was going to be right up my alley – historical fiction with a little romance thrown in. The story revolves around 17 year old Carina Blanchett and her family who live on a plantation near Natchez, Mississippi in the early 19th century. Carina was born to a privileged life, and her family expects her to marry someone of her own station even though she is in love with someone else, but we soon learn that wealth and class does not necessarily make a gentleman and that a person’s qualities should matter far more than money and background. Will Carina learn to love or will love eventually find its way back to her?
I really wanted to like this book; however, although Fears definitely has a talent for the written word, there were just too many areas where this book fell short in my eyes. Don’t get me wrong – this book was not boring or poorly written by any means, but there was just no magic to the story.In a nutshell, there were two words that came to mind as I read this book: predictable and formulaic. I don’t mind the traditional boy meets girl, boy falls in love with girl, boy can’t have girl, but eventually boy gets girl plot, but I like stories that are not quite so predictable and where there are interesting side plots that really flesh out the story. If the story had been longer, Fears could have delved much deeper into the fascinating history of the pre-Civil War era of the South. What she does describe is well done, but I yearned for so much more. For example, I was very excited to hear mention of the Underground Railroad when I read the synopsis for this book, and I looked forward to some excitement in the plot as a result. However, there were only three brief references to one slave’s involvement in hiding runaways on their way north, and nothing ever developed from that.
I was also disappointed in the main character, Carina. When introduced to her at the beginning of the story, the reader is led to believe that she is not like other southern belles of that era, in that she is intelligent, strong-willed and independent. I thought she was going to be a character to admire – one who would break the mold. However, the next thing you know, she is fainting and swooning into a man’s arms in the garden because the sun is hot and she forgot her bonnet. When faced with arranged marriage, I was waiting for her to step up to the plate and tell her family that she wouldn’t have anything to do with it, but again she wilted in the heat. And to allow the deception of a happy marriage to continue even after being threatened by her less than loving husband does not make a strong character to be admired in my books. Carina could have been a formidable protagonist who would have given the story some depth and who could have stood for the beginning of women fighting for their rights, but she was not all that much different than the other southern belles. All in all, I liked the characters because each one was different and interesting in his or her own way, but I am sure that if this story was longer and more detailed and complex, I would have loved the characters.
If you want a really light read with a good old fashioned romance, you may want to give Beloved Destiny a try, but if you want something with a little more substance, this is not the book for you.
Carol Ann Fears grew up in Kentucky, where she majored in English at Murray State University. Before finishing her education, Carol took some time off to get married, and after four children, a nursing degree and a move to Kenosha, WI she now lives again in western Kentucky with her husband, Perry, and their two Jack Russell terriers and four cats. After retiring from nursing in 2007, she decided to return to her love of writing and completed Beloved Destiny in four months. She is currently working on a second novel set in 14th century England. Reviewer: Cindy Taylor, Allbooks Review Int. www.allbooksreviewint.com
Title: Beloved Destiny
Author: Carol Ann Fears