I finished reading Camellia a couple of days ago, but I have let my thoughts stew a bit before I wrote my review. I was originally disappointed with the book but the more I thought about it, my disappointments stem from the fact that I haven't read the first book in the series. As a stand-alone book, Camellia is more confusing than if read in sequence.
Camellia is a young lady who wishes to go to finishing school, the middle sister of three girls, a girl with dreams, and a woman with a calling on her life. To find the mature woman inside of the girl, to find the calling, to find her place in this world is one of the hardest things she must do.
Lily, the oldest sister, is the one who makes the decision to allow Camellia to go to finishing school. She's reluctant to let Camellia go because the War Between the States is heating up, and life in the South is changing. Lily and her husband, Blake, take Camellia to New Orleans and stop in to see family friends, the Thorntons, on the way. This is where Camellia first meets Jonah Thornton and the sparks fly. The only problem is that Jonah often visits the school under the pretense of visiting Camellia while actually keeping the real reasons secret.
In the meantime, Camellia meets her roommate's brother, Thad, who is the very image of the dreamboat Camellia thinks she wants to marry. Through Jonah, Camellia learns what truly matters in life. Through Thad, she actually finds what her true calling is--although he comes to object to her fulfilling her calling.
I have read books by Diane Ashley before and found them truly enjoyable. This one is no less so.