Thursday, December 30, 2021
Beyond the Lavender Fields by Arlem Hawks (Review)
Fans of historical fiction will be pleased with Arlem Hawk's newest release. Isn't the cover gorgeous?
Title: Beyond the Lavender Fields by Arlem Hawks
Category: Adult Fiction, 368 pages
Genre: Historical Fiction, Historical Romance
Publisher: Shadow Mountain
Release date: February 1, 2022
Content rating: PG-13 (violence related to the French Revolution)
Rumors of revolution in Paris swirl in Marseille, a bustling port city in southern France. Gilles Étienne, a clerk at the local soap factory, thrives on the news. Committed to the cause of equality, liberty, and brotherhood, he and his friends plan to march to Paris to dethrone the monarchy. His plans are halted when he meets Marie-Caroline Daubin, the beautiful daughter of the owner of the factory.
A bourgeoise and royalist, Marie-Caroline has been called home to Marseille to escape the unrest in Paris. She rebuffs Gilles’s efforts to charm her and boldly expresses her view that violently imposed freedom is not really freedom for all. As Marie-Caroline takes risks to follow her beliefs, Gilles catches her in a dangerous secret that could cost her and her family their lives. As Gilles and Marie-Caroline spend more time together, she questions her initial assumptions about Gilles and realizes that perhaps they have more in common than she thought.
As the spirit of revolution descends on Marseille, people are killed and buildings are ransacked and burned to the ground. Gilles must choose between supporting the political change he believes in and protecting those he loves. And Marie-Caroline must battle between standing up for what she feels is right and risking her family’s safety. With their lives and their nation in turmoil, both Gilles and Marie-Caroline wonder if a révolutionnaire and a royaliste can really be together or if they must live in a world that forces people to choose sides.
Reviewed by Laura Fabiani
After reading Georgana's Secret, I was excited to read Arlem Hawks' latest release Beyond the Lavender Fields. The story revolves around the French Revolution, making the setting almost a character in itself. Both the main characters are on opposite sides of the conflict, Marie-Caroline, as part of the aristocracy who want to preserve their lives of privilege, and Gilles Etienne of the working class who wants equality for all.
The story starts with a great scene, setting the tone for the relationship between Gilles and Marie-Caroline. Then the pacing seemed to slow down and it took a while to get going once again. The author skillfully brings up the political tensions of the day and how it affects both sides. I really liked Gilles' character. He was hard-working, loved his family, respected his mother, and was chivalrous. Marie-Caroline, on the other hand, was not as likable to me. She seemed very aloof and flaunted her views without realizing how dangerous that was. I never quite knew what she was really thinking unless it was through some of the letters she wrote to her cousin.
However, once the book picks up, there is plenty of action. Marie-Caroline faces the reality of her situation that makes her see things with different eyes. Gilles realizes that the means to an end are not always justifiable even if it leads to freedom. The French Revolution was a terrifying time in history and we see how patriotism and desperation could make zealots and oppressed people act like madmen. This was certainly an interesting book especially since the main characters were on different sides of the revolution.
Fans of historical fiction will be pleased with this new release. Well-written, fraught with internal and political conflicts, Beyond the Lavender Fields showcases star-crossed lovers who discover that doing what is right is more important than who is right.
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Arlem Hawks began making up stories before she could write. Living all over the Western United States and traveling around the world gave her a love of cultures and people and the stories they have to tell. With her travels came an interest in history, especially the history of her English heritage. When she isn't writing, Arlem is baking her characters' favorite foods, sewing Regency dresses, learning how to play the tin whistle, and water coloring. She lives in Arizona with her husband and two children. Having previously published four historical romance novellas, Georgana’s Secret is her debut novel.
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