I have read one other of Mary Ellis's Civil War Heroines series and thoroughly enjoyed it. Now she has a new offering to the series and it's a dandy. The Last Heiress takes a young lady from her comfortable home in Lancashire, England, and moves her to Wilmington, North Carolina. Because of the Civil War, there is no cotton coming in for the Dunn Mills and Amanda's father needs the cotton to keep the mills going, so he sends Amanda as his emissary to talk to the factors who have sold them cotton before and see if the shipments can be restored. The only kink in the works is the Civil War and the blockade of the southern ports by the Union navy. Jefferson Davis has also declared a moratorium on shipping outside the Confederate States. I guess that makes two kinks. The other reason he sends Amanda is to check on her twin sister, Abigail, and see how she is doing in her marriage and in her new land.
After getting to Wilmington, Amanda decides to explore her new environs and stumbles into a mercantile run by Nate Cooper--a man from western North Carolina who moved east because his family's farm has gone under. Meeting Nate was one of the most serendipitous things that happens to Amanda and creates for her a feeling of home. She sees that Nate is like-minded to her and has all the makings of a good friend--or more.
The hardest thing Amanda has to do after she reaches her twin sister's home is fit in to all the society rules and mores that seem to be expected of her. One poignant conversation Abigail has with her husband, Jackson Henthorne, is that he has to leave Amanda alone to find her own way, and if her choice of life partner doesn't exactly fit what he thinks she should look for, he needed to understand that HE wasn't what Abigail's father thought she should look for.
Nate is a solid character with many great attributes, not the least of which is being excessively handsome. He's generous with his time and goods, he's loyal to his family and to his convictions, and, best of all, he's not afraid to dream beyond his little world as it is.
Amanda is a bit naive, but strong in her convictions and sees the world as it should be instead of how it is. She is the exact complement to Nate.
Abigail is not as naive, but loves her creature comforts.
Jackson is not above illicit actions to get what he wants, but he loves Abigail and wants only the best for her.
The ONLY negative thing I have about this book is that the faith aspect of it is rather weak. God seems to be an afterthought if He is any thought at all in these people's lives. The strongest faith is displayed by Salome, Thomas, and Amos--the slaves.
A very strong four stars.
Thanks to Harvest House for allowing me to read and review this book.