The Bracelet - Dorothy Love

“There are no secrets that time does not reveal.” 

Savannah, Georgia – 1858

Celia Browning dreams of the day when her childhood sweetheart Sutton Mackay comes home to Savannah after two years in Jamaica managing his family's shipping interests. Sutton has all but proposed, and their marriage will unite two of the city's most prominent families. But just as Sutton returns, a newspaper reporter arrives in town, determined to pry into twin tragedies that took place at the Browning mansion on Madison Square when Celia was a child.

While the journalist pursues his story, someone is trying to frighten Celia. When she receives a series of anonymous notes, and a bracelet imbued with a chilling message, Celia realizes that her family’s past has the power to destroy her future.

As the clouds of war gather over Savannah, and her beloved father’s health worsens, Celia determines to uncover the truth about what really happened all those years ago.

Inspired by actual events in one of Savannah’s most prominent 19th-century families, The Bracelet is the story of a young southern woman whose dreams fracture under the weight of her family’s tragic past.

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**BookLookBloggers.com & Harper Collins Christian Publishing sent me a copy of this book in return for an honest review.

 

 

This story opens with what we are initially led to believe is a suicide, but was the death actually accidental? Fast forward to just about 2 years before the first presidential campaign of Abraham Lincoln, the town of Savannah is tense with fear of possible eminent war as well as riots sparking up between abolitionists and slave owners. The plot focuses on the Browning family, in particular Celia (whose mother is deceased). Celia's father working in the shipping business and allows / mildly encourages his daughter's interest in his work, even allowing her to express her thoughts on politics of the day -- unusual for the time period. Her father and fiancee, Sutton Mackay, both seem to find her opinions "cute", but she's bound and determined to prove she's got brains and boldness enough to be successful in her own right in her father's business.

 

Sutton, whose family is also involved in the shipping business, is pretty emeshed himself in the abolition fight, though he's on the side of keeping slavery intact. I found it odd that Celia's family, who believes in the abolishment of slavery, seems cool with his beliefs. I couldn't get my head past it, kinda making it hard for me to like Sutton, though his personality otherwise seemed pretty charming. 

 

Aside from the political turmoil going on in the town of Savannah as a whole, the Browning family is having their own personal fight with a nosy journalist who wants to write a series of articles re-investigating the suspicious deaths of two Browning family members years before, one of them being the girl you're introduced to in the opening pages. Little by little, the reader learns the stories of these deceased women and how they are linked. Celia desperately struggles to keep this journalist at bay, while the behavior of her orphaned cousin, Ivy, strangely becomes more and more dark and threatening. This part of the story also incorporates an almost-thriller element of a popular jewelry trend going on at the time referenced as "the language of the jewels" -- where a woman is presented with jewelry made up of multicolored stones, the first letter of each stone spelling out a message (ie. DEAR would be in a sequence of diamonds, emeralds, amethysts, and rubies). Celia is sent one such bracelet but the sentiment is not nice, the sender anonymous. Who is after her?

 

As a whole, this was an entertaining story, but I didn't find myself riveted. Historical fiction is my favorite genre but I found this one on the lighter, fluffier side of historical fiction. There were identifiable historical moments going on in the background but I didn't find myself all that immersed in detail. Which is sad, considering this novel is supposed to be inspired by a real life event.

 

The Bracelet is inspired by the tragic history of Savannah's

 Sorrel-Weed House

{image credit: veggiemacabre.com}

 

 

 

 

But the truth was that sooner or later misfortune visited every house. Grief and loss were the price one paid for being alive.

 

While there was enough in the story to keep me mildly interested all the way to the end, I did realize at the close of the book that I hadn't really strongly connected with any of the characters. The good guys were over-the-top good and the bad were cartoonishly devious. There were very few major twists or unexpected shocks for me, there was one scene around the final chapters that had one moment where I thought, "huh, k... didn't see that happening.." but even that didn't elicit a gasp. It also bugged me somewhat that the Browning family, while being around to witness these historic moments of the time period unfolding around them, always seemed to be so from a distance. They never quite felt of the history to me.

 

Issues I had aside, this was a fun, light Southern read with just enough mystery to keep it interesting. If you are curious about getting into the historical fiction genre but not quite sure where to start, I think this one would make a good starter book for you. 

 

FYI: Per Dorothy Love's author note at the end, there is a sequel planned for released sometime in 2015. I'm curious enough to see how the story continues.