Nags Head, The Outer Banks, North Carolina – the Civil War is over and the slaves freed. Once prosperous plantation owner Noland Sinclair builds a cottage at the beach and brings his family for the summer. Noland asks his daughter Abigail to tutor local fisherman Benjamin (Ben) Whimble. Abigail is repulsed by a very smelly, unwashed, barefooted Ben, but he proves an apt pupil and the two soon strike up a friendship. Abigail’s mother is more interested in her own problems than those of her children and papa Noland is busy scheming with an early-day KKK group to find and punish a runaway slave – and he hopes to involve Ben in his nefarious scheme.  Hector Newman, an affluent doctor’s son courts Abigail and he plans to wed her despite the Sinclair’s current financial status.

Ben continues to challenge Abigail into thinking about the hypocrisies of her parents and friends and the two become very close – which man will she chose? And that’s pretty much it in a nutshell. While the book had a lot going for it story wise – setting, social mores, bigotry against the freed slaves, etc. – it just didn’t quite deliver what I’d hoped for. Abigail’s parents were painted just a tad too *black*, I would have preferred the characters fleshed out a bit better. As for the grand love between Abigail and Ben? I loved the idea, but again it just didn’t quite come off as well as I’d hoped – I didn’t pick up on much chemistry between the two, let alone how quickly she got over her revulsion to his very dirty smelly person (or did he start taking baths all of a sudden and I missed the boat again?).

A good book and a nice first outing for this author, it just doesn’t have enough pizzazz for me to give it a higher rating. 3/5 stars.

My copy courtesy of Amazon Vine.