Natchez, MS; 1791Anxious for his brothers to join him on the rugged frontier along the Mississippi River, Connor O’Shea has no choice but to indenture himself as a carpenter in exchange for their passage from Ireland. But when he’s sold to Isabella Bartholomew of Breeze Hill Plantation, Connor fears he’ll repeat past mistakes and vows not to be tempted by the lovely lady.The responsibilities of running Breeze Hill have fallen on Isabella’s shoulders after her brother was found dead in the swamps along the Natchez Trace and a suspicious fire devastated their crops, almost destroyed their home, and left her father seriously injured. Even with Connor’s help, Isabella fears she’ll lose her family’s plantation. Despite her growing feelings for the handsome Irish carpenter, she seriously considers accepting her wealthy and influential neighbor’s proposal of marriage.Soon, though, Connor realizes someone is out to eliminate the Bartholomew family. Can he set aside his own feelings to keep Isabella safe?
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The Promise of Breeze Hill
A Natchez Trace Novel
By PAM HILLMAN, Erin E. Smith
Tyndale House PublishersCopyright © 2017 Pam Hillman
All rights reserved.
Natchez Under-the-Hill on the Mississippi River MAY 1791
Connor O'Shea braced his boots against the auction block and glared at the crowd gathered on the landing.
Vultures. Ever' last one o' them.
The stench of the muddy Mississippi River filled his nostrils, and the rude shacks along the riverfront reminded him of the roiling mass of humanity in the seaports back home in Ireland. Hot, cloying air sucked the breath from his lungs, and the storm clouds in the sky brought no relief from the steam pot of Natchez in May.
Dockworkers shouted insults at each other. Haggard-faced women in rags scuttled past as grimy children darted among the wheels of rickety carts. One besotted fool lay passed out in the street, no one to help him or care whether he lived or died. As far as Connor knew, the man could be dead already, knifed in the dead of night when no one would be the wiser.
A commotion broke out at the back of the crowd and all eyes turned as a gentleman farmer shouted that he'd been robbed. The man chased after a ragged boy, but the moment they were out of sight, his compatriots turned back to the auction, the incident so common, it was already forgotten.
Connor ignored the chaos and focused on the high bluff overlooking the wharf.
Ah, to be up there where the wind blew the foul odor of rotting fish away and the scent of spring grass filled a lad's nostrils instead. And be there he would.
As soon as someone bought his papers.
"Gentlemen, you've heard the terms of Connor O'Shea's indenture," James Bloomfield, Esquire, boomed out. "Mr. O'Shea is offering to indenture himself against passage for his four brothers from Ireland, an agreement he had with his previous master."
A tightness squeezed Connor's chest. After serving out his seven-year indenture with Master Benson, they'd come to a mutual agreement that Connor would work without wages if the influential carpenter would send for his brothers. Benson's untimely death had squashed his hopes until Bloomfield suggested the same arrangement with his new master. One year for each brother. Four years.
No, three and a half. Assuming Bloomfield made it clear in the papers that Connor had already worked six months toward passage for the first of his brothers.
But who first? Quinn? Rory? Caleb? Patrick?
Not Patrick, as much as he wanted to lay eyes on the lad.
Having fled Ireland eight years ago, he'd never even seen his youngest brother. He'd start with Quinn, the next eldest. The two of them could work hard enough to bring Caleb over in half the time. He'd leave Rory to travel with Patrick.
Pleased with his plan, he panned the faces of the merchants and plantation owners spread out before him. Surely someone needed a skilled carpenter. Dear saints above, the mansions being built on the bluff and the flourishing plantations spread throughout the lush countryside promised enough work to keep Irish craftsmen rolling in clover for years.
He spotted an open carriage parked at the edge of the crowd. A barefoot boy held the horses, and a lone woman perched on the seat. Eyes as dark as seasoned pecan met and held his before the lass turned away, her attention settling on a half-dozen men unloading a flatboat along the river's edge.
She looked as out of place as an Irish preacher in a pub, and just as condemning.
He stiffened his spine and ignored her. It didn't matter what she thought of him. He needed a benefactor, a wealthy landowner with ready access to ships and to Ireland. And he planned to stay far away from women with the means to destroy him.
The memory of one little rich gal who'd savored him, then spit him out like a sugarcane chew would last him a lifetime.
"I say, Bloomfield, what's O'Shea's trade?"
"Joinery. Carpentry. He apprenticed with the late John W Benson, the renowned master craftsman from the Carolinas."
A murmur of appreciation rippled through the crowd of gentlemen farmers. Connor wasn't surprised. Master Benson's work was revered among the landed gentry far and wide. Unfortunately, Master Benson's skill with a hammer and a lathe hadn't saved him from the fever that struck no less than six months after their arrival in the Natchez District. With the man barely cold in his grave, Connor now found his papers in the hands of the lawyer, being offered to the highest bidder.
But regardless, no one offered a bid. Connor squared his shoulders, chin held high, feet braced wide.
The minutes ticked by as Bloomfield cajoled the crowd.
Oh, God, please let someone make an offer.
What if no one needed a cabinetmaker or a carpenter? What if Bloomfield motioned for him to leave the platform, his own man, belonging to himself, with no way to better himself or save his brothers from a life of misery back home in Ireland, a life he'd left them to suffer through because of his own selfishness?
All his worldly goods stood off to the side. The tools of his trade. Hammers. Saws. Lathes. He'd scrimped and saved for each precious piece during his years as a bonded journeyman to Master Benson. He could sell them, but what good would that do? He needed those tools and he needed a benefactor if he would be any good to his brothers.
Finally someone made an offer, the figure abysmally low. Connor gritted his teeth as the implication of his worth slapped him full in the face. But the terms. He had to remember the terms. Every day of his labor would mark one more coin toward passage for his brothers.
A movement through the crowd caught his eye. The barefoot boy made his way toward Bloomfield and whispered something in his ear. Connor glanced toward the edge of the crowd. The carriage stood empty, and he caught a glimpse of a dark traveling cloak as the woman entered the lawyer's small office tucked away at the base of the bluff.
"Sold." Bloomfield's gavel beat a death knell against the table in front of him. "To Miss Isabella Bartholomew on behalf of Breeze Hill Plantation."
Cold dread swooshed up from Connor's stomach and exploded in his chest.
He'd been indentured to a woman.
He closed his eyes.
God help him.
* * *
Isabella Bartholomew pulled back the faded curtain in the attorney's office and glimpsed the Irishman's eyes close briefly as the gavel fell. Relief, maybe?
Unsure if Mr. O'Shea might be the man for the job, she'd hesitated to buy his papers, but hearing that he wanted to secure passage for his brothers swayed her in his favor. Surely Papa would be pleased with her choice.
Thoughts of her father swirled in her head. His strength was returning as slowly as cotton growing in the field, inch by painful inch. She couldn't see his progress, but he'd surprise her with a halting step or his gnarled fingers grasping a spoon. Small victories, but so much more than they'd dreamed of eight months ago.
Connor O'Shea jumped down from the platform. Butternut-hued breeches, roughly mended, hugged long legs. A handwoven cotton shirt, worn thin, stretched across broad shoulders. Leather lacing up the front hung loose, revealing the strong column of the man's throat.
Long strides brought him closer to Bloomfield's office. Isabella whirled from the window, unwilling to be caught staring. She hurried across the small room, skirts swishing, to stand beside a crude table strewn with papers.
The Irishman stepped through the door and removed his hat in one fluid motion. Stormy, moss-green eyes clashed with hers before he bowed stiffly in submission.
Isabella fought the urge to apologize. This arrangement wasn't about master and servant. She would have offered the job to a freemason if one could've been found. Her chin inched up a notch. She would not feel guilty. It wasn't her fault the man's master had expired and his papers were for sale.
"You do understand the terms, don't you, lass?" His Irish lilt rumbled throughout the close quarters.
"Of course I do, Mr. O'Shea."
"I'm no' a slave." His square jaw jutted.
Isabella stiffened her spine. "Breeze Hill does not deal in slaves."
Having clawed his way up from the bottom, her father preferred freemen and bonded servants — men and women with a vested interest in seeing that the plantation flourished. Neighboring plantation owners had tried to convince him otherwise, but he refused to listen. When pressed, a faraway look came into his eyes, and he'd say that no man had the right to own another.
He would say no more on the matter.
"Forgive me, Miss Bartholomew. I stand corrected." The Irishman gave a slight bow, his wind-whipped dark hair falling forward over his forehead.
He didn't look the least bit repentant. As a matter of fact, his clenched jaw and wide-legged stance made her wonder if he regretted putting forth such terms in the first place.
No time like the present to find out. She didn't have the time, the money, or the patience to transport him all the way to Breeze Hill if he'd already changed his mind.
"Mr. O'Shea, a fire destroyed an entire wing of my family home last fall, and I need a skilled carpenter to rebuild it." Memories of the flames that destroyed their crops, a third of their home, and almost took her father's life flashed across her mind, but she pushed the horrific images back into the recesses where they belonged. "From Mr. Bloomfield's glowing recommendation, you are that man. If you're unwilling or unable to fulfill the terms of your indenture, now is the time to say so."
"No, ma'am. I'm willin'." The words grated, like a hammer pulling a nail free from a board.
She eyed him. His words and his tone were at odds with one another. But what choice did she have? Her father was obsessed with repairing the damage to Breeze Hill, and Connor O'Shea had been the first carpenter she'd found in Natchez.
No, that wasn't entirely true. Mr. O'Shea was the first carpenter she could afford. She squished down the thought that Breeze Hill couldn't exactly afford him now. But there would be plenty of coin after the fall harvest to send for the first of his brothers. And by then, her father would be recovered, Leah would have her child, and all would be right in their world.
As much as it could ever be without Jonathan.
"Very well. We'll lodge here in Natchez and be on our way on the morrow."
Bloomfield stepped in, and before she could change her mind, she signed the papers indenturing Connor O'Shea to Breeze Hill. When Bloomfield slid the papers across the table, her indentured servant took the quill in his large, work-roughened hand and scratched his name on the paper in barely legible script. With papers in hand, she led the way to the carriage, where Toby waited. She smiled and waved a hand at the lad. "This is Toby. He's one of our best stable hands."
"Thank ya, Miss Isabella." The youngster grinned.
"Toby, help Mr. O'Shea load his belongings; then we'd best head on over to the Wainwrights'." She glanced at the moisture-laden clouds. "Looks like we're in for a rain."
* * *
The woman gathered her skirts in one gloved hand. Connor stood by, not knowing whether to offer his hand to the haughty miss or not. He knew his place and knew from experience how easily the wealthy took offense. Before he could make up his mind, the stable boy stepped forward and assisted Miss Bartholomew into the carriage.
He noticed a discreetly stitched tear along the hem of her outer skirt as she settled on the worn leather seat. He frowned, his gaze raking the rest of the carriage, the old but carefully repaired tack, the mismatched horses. From the looks of the conveyance and Miss Bartholomew's mended clothes, would the plantation coffers be able to fulfill the obligation of sending for his brothers?
"Miss Bartholomew ..."
The question died on his lips as two riders careened down the bluff, heading straight toward the outdoor auction. The color drained from Miss Bartholomew's face, and she gripped the edge of the seat.
The riders, both lads on the verge of manhood, reined up beside them, hair tousled, clothes dusty and sweat-stained.
"What's wrong, Jim? Is it Papa?"
"No, ma'am. It's Miss Leah."
"The babe?" If possible, she paled even more, and Connor braced himself in case she might faint.
"I don't know, ma'am. She just said to hurry."
Miss Bartholomew took a deep breath and scooted to the edge of the seat.
"Jim, I'll ride on ahead. The rest of you follow on the morrow with Mr. Wainwright's party."
Jim twisted the brim of his hat in his hands. "Miss Isabella, you can't travel the trace alone."
"Thank you for worrying, Jim, but I don't have a choice. It's much too soon, and Leah needs me."
Connor realized her intention and reached for her hand, assisting her from the carriage. Grateful eyes, laced with fear, pierced his before she turned away, intent on her mission.
Would the boys stop her? When the lads didn't protest, Connor grabbed the horse's reins just below the bit. Decent stock, the lathered animal still needed rest before making the return journey.
"Mistress, it's too dangerous."
"I'm going." She faced him, a stubborn jut to her chin.
"I may be new to Natchez, but I've been here long enough to know the dangers of traveling that road alone."
"Mr. O'Shea, I won't argue that fact." She stood tall, the top of her head barely reaching his chin. "But my sister-in-law needs me, and nothing you can say will prevent me from going to her. Stand aside."
Her chin thrust forward, dark-brown eyes flashing, she somehow made him feel as if she looked down at him instead of up. He took a deep breath, struggling to remember his place. She owned the horses, the carriage, and for all practical purposes, she owned him and the three youngsters gawking at the two of them. Well, if she meant to dance along the devil's backbone, then let the little spitfire flirt with death. No skin off his nose. But at least he could give her a fighting chance.
He addressed the stable lad. "Those carriage horses broke to ride?"
He faced Miss Bartholomew, having a hard time showing deference to a woman as daft as this one. "Mistress, if it's all the same to you, let the lads switch the saddle to one o' the fresh horses. This one could do with a bit o' rest, if ye don't mind me saying so."
She looked away, the first sign of uncertainty he'd seen. "Thank you, Mr. O'Shea. In my haste, I didn't think of the horse. Jim, do as he says, and be quick."
Two boys scurried to unhitch the horses from the carriage while Jim stripped the saddle from one of the lathered animals. In moments, they had the mare ready, and Connor assisted Miss Bartholomew into the saddle, taken aback that she didn't have any qualms about riding astride. He glimpsed a fringe of lacy ruffles just above a pair of worn leather boots before her skirts fell into voluminous folds around her ankles.
"Jim, make haste to Mr. Wainwright's. He'll see you all safely home on the morrow." She spoke to Jim, but she looked at Connor as if she left responsibility for the boys on his shoulders.
"Yes, ma'am. Will you be all right? Shouldn't I —?"
She reined away, the animal's hooves kicking up dirt as it raced to the top of the bluff and disappeared northward. Connor shook his head. Crazy woman. To take off in a dither just because of the birth of a babe. The whole lot of them would probably arrive before the child made an appearance.
"I'm such an idiot." Jim threw his hat in the dust and let out a string of curses. "Why didn't I go with her?"
"She didn't give you much choice, lad, rushing off like she did." Connor led the extra horse toward the carriage.
"It's a day's ride to Breeze Hill."
Connor whipped around. "A day's ride?"
"Yes, sir. And the Natchez Trace ain't safe for nobody, especially a lady. Mr. Bartholomew will have my head, he will."
Connor raked a hand through his hair. Daft woman.
"Saddle up the other horse, lads. I'm goin' after her."
Excerpted from The Promise of Breeze Hill by PAM HILLMAN, Erin E. Smith. Copyright © 2017 Pam Hillman. Excerpted by permission of Tyndale House Publishers.
All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.
Excerpts are provided by Dial-A-Book Inc. solely for the personal use of visitors to this web site.
Most Helpful Customer Reviews
Pam Hillman's latest book is entitled The Promise of Breeze Hill. On the opening pages, you are introduced to Connor O'Shea as he is putting himself on the auction block. In an attempt to gain passage from Ireland for his three younger brothers, he plans to indenture himself as a carpenter. Conner cannot believe it when the person, who puts down money for him, turns out to be Isabella Bartholomew, a beautiful young woman! After Connor manages to help Isabella safely return to her home, he learns that after her father was badly burned in the fire, that has left the property damaged as well, the management of the plantation has fallen on Isabella's shoulders. Once Conner starts working on restoring their home, he soon realizes that the situation at Breeze Hill is more complicated than anyone realized! Men from the neighborhood have their eye on Isabella as a potential wife. You wonder if it is for her benefit or for their own selfish reasons. Hold on as you watch Isabella and Connor attempt to discover who they can trust and who is out to enrich their own pocket!
This is the first book by Pam Hillman that I have read and the author now has a new enthralled follower of her books! What a gorgeous story of love, grace, redemption, honor, faith, and betrayal woven into the flourishing historical background of Natchez on the Mississippi River during the early 1790s. The plantation life and the setting are so real and tangible, the characters are absolutely charming and endearing, the plot is well-crafted with plenty of action and suspense (in a historical romance novel, no less!), the need for total dependence on God and Him alone is so poignant in the characters’ lives, and the writing is fluid and easy to read. I’m so glad that I picked up this book at my local library! Connor is a loyal, hard-working, guilt-ridden hero who is faithful and dependable. He becomes an indentured servant to try to bring his young brothers from Ireland over to the New World. Isabella is an intelligent, tender-hearted plantation owner’s daughter who has suffered many heartaches in such a short amount of time. She tries to be strong to keep the plantation running, but tragedies meet her at every turn and discourages her. Many of the secondary characters are memorable as well, like Isabella’s father, her friend William, and the hired help around the plantation. I can’t wait to read the second book in the series where we’ll meet one of Connor’s brothers! If you love historical romance, you will definitely want to read this book.
Isabella Bartholomew is independent, creative, and highly intelligent yet the emotional toll of her responsibilities weigh her down. I felt such a connection this character and her drive to be a caretaker and protector of her family. Connor O'Shea has strength, valuable skills, and relentless work-ethic. By the end of the story, this hero, his faint-away-swoony Irish brogue and all-in self-sacrificial love had wholly and completely captured my reader heart! If these two characters aren't enough to send you dashing for the nearest bookstore or library, there are plenty of secondary characters to seal the deal. I highly recommend this book and I'm making the delightful task of reading all of Pam Hillman's novels as soon as possible a top priority! I received a complimentary copy of this book from the publisher and was under no obligation to post a review. The opinions expressed are my own.
Connor is a man determined to not repeat the past. Isabella is a woman fighting for her family's future. Both face danger, hardships and the truth that God is with us even when things go wrong. I enjoyed the pace in this book, the author wove action and drama together well without letting the plot drag at all. I stayed up late to finnish this one! I will be looking for more from this author.
I received this book free from the publisher. Opinions shared are mine. Based in Mississippi, The Promise of Breeze Hill highlights the nuances of society in the late 1790’s. Though this book comes from a publishing house known for its Christian fiction titles, The Promise of Breeze Hill doesn’t come across as an faith-based story. It is more of a clean historical romance, which makes it good for a wider audience. It’s a good story for those who enjoy society dramas like Downton Abbey and Upstairs, Downstairs. Consider this when you have a few hours to spend on the breezy plantation grounds!
The Promise of Breeze Hill is so sweet and humble and yet strong the kind that a women finds within herself, but there is the knowledge that GOD is there - how could you go wrong? Isabella has a hard thing thrown upon her shoulders - she has to take over the plantation - when there is someone who wants to wipe them all out - unbeknownst to her -- at least there for a while - so a handsome Irish man walks into her life to take over taking care of her plantation and - hey wait a minute - I am not going to tell you the story - you have to go and read it - it is incredible -- this book pulls your heart out of your chest when you realize what is happening - you want to scream out loud "Isabella watch your back girl this and that is going to happen"", and "Conner hurry up take care of Isabella", you get so raveled up into their lives because you fall so in love with them you just cannot help yourself - don't regret not getting this incredible book. I received a copy of this book from the Publisher and Netgalley; all the opinions expressed in this review are all my own.
This book started a little slow for me, but I stuck with it and ended up really enjoying it. I recommend this story if you like historicals and suspense. The writing is well plotted and the characters are easy to relate to.
From the first page you are thrown into the life of these characters and you will want to keep reading to see what will happen next. Isabella tries to stay strong for her father and her family but she needs a place, or a person, to rest on. Enter Connor. He is a perfectly imperfect hero. How could these two be drawn together? Can they overcome all that lies between them? And what is really going on at Breeze Hill? Who can be trusted? All of these questions will keep you reading and wanting more. A copy of this book was given to me by the publisher. All opinions are my own.
Fantastic book! It was a little hard to get into at first. There are a lot of characters which makes it hard to keep everyone straight but if you can keep with it, it is well worth the trouble. Numerous times I contemplated putting it away, I just was not interested in it. No that it was a bad story line it just was really hard for me to get into at first. Once you get past the first few chapters though, it starts to get better! Once it starts to pick up the story is more fluent and you get to a point where you can’t wait to see what happens. There are a lot of twists and turns. You will know who the bad guy is at the very beginning but you won’t know how it is going to end, it is a BIG shocker! I was so happy with the ending and how it tied it all together in a perfect little package! It is a very well written and articulated book but it just has a slow start. I think that introducing so many characters and trying to implement a back story all at the very start of the book was what made it difficult for me to get into the story. It felt a little overwhelming the amount of information that is thrown at you! The characters are all very well written and you can’t help but feel sorry for Isabella and her family. You will love the main characters and you will love to hate the villains. It is a classic romance that has a bit of suspense and villainy in it! I love the time period and the description of everything in the book. It takes you back to a completely different way of life and it is breathtaking. I definitely recommend the book! If you do read it and find that you are having a hard time getting into it, keep going! I promise it gets better with each passing chapter! You will not regret checking out this book!
This is a wonderful historical fiction romance with a bit of suspense. These are my favorite types of stories. I loved Isabella and Connor. I love when people from different groupings can find love despite the obstacles. This is a great time period also. I look forward to reading the next book in this series. I received this book from Tyndaleblog for a fair and honest opinion that I gave of my own free will.
When I found out that author Pam Hillman’s newest offering had an Irish hero, I said, “Yes please!” I really enjoyed this novel of life that takes place in 1791 Mississippi. This was a time in which slavery was still in progress and very dangerous highwaymen roamed and terrorized the people. We have a story of a family who has had some very bad things happen to them. And as we read we see that some of these things may have been done purposely. When Isabella goes to purchase the indenture of Connor O’Shea she does not realize that she purchased the indenture of a real hero. I really liked the family closeness of both the main characters. Isabella is trying to run the plantation and the home while taking care of her father and very pregnant sister-in-law. Connor just wants to make enough money to send for his brothers that are still in a poverty stricken state in Ireland. There was also the unity of the community that without I wonder how any of them could have survived. There were some really interesting historical aspects to this story. One was that Connor had lived in the old world of Europe with its stages of classes and prejudice, however as he finds out America was quite different. It was interesting to learn that while a lot of slaves came from Africa, there were other countries that had their citizens sold as slaves as well. Ireland was one that was forced to add to the human trafficking conditions of the day. This story really got to me and I enjoyed reading every minute of it. It is one that will stick with me for a long time to come. The romance was delightful, the danger was real even though we were unaware of the source, and the history was deep and rich. I was provided with a copy of this book for free. I was not required to post a positive review and all views and opinions expressed are my own.
The Promise of Breeze Hill by Pam Hillman is a Christian novel set in 1791 Mississippi along the Natchez Trace. Isabella Bartholomew came to Natchez looking for a carpenter to rebuild the wing of Breeze Hill damaged in a fire. Her father was also severely burned and still recovering. She purchases the indenture of Connor O’Shea with the terms being that he will receive passage for his four brothers from Ireland at the completion of the work. He soon learns there is more to the story than just an accidental fire; the cotton crop was destroyed by the fire and finances are very strained. He and Isabella also become closer and he is torn about his feelings for her as she is the mistress of the plantation. Is someone out to destroy Breeze Hill and why? Can Isabella and Connor save the plantation? Pam Hillman is an excellent story teller and this one does not disappoint. The characters are described in detail and come to life on the page; the bad guys are truly evil and I was concerned when Isabella was in their presence. There are many twists and turns to the story; I couldn’t put it down wondering what secrets would be revealed next. Who can be trusted? Who has the most to gain by taking over Breeze Hill? Can being kind to strangers be dangerous? All of these questions are answered and some in very unexpected ways. I do have to admit the ending left me with some questions and I wonder if a sequel may be in the works. This book is a definite 5 of 5 stars. Everyone who enjoys Christian novels will not want to miss this one! I received an advance copy of this book through Netgalley in exchange for my honest review.
I seriously loved the history and setting of this story! It's a time and place I know little about, so I was fascinated by the details of life there, the dangers and struggles, the successes and progress. The vibrant characters made it come alive and it was great to see Isabella and Connor's relationship shift throughout the book. The author chose to let us know who the villain is from the beginning so even though it wasn't a mystery who was causing the destruction, there was still heightened tension and I couldn't help but want to warn Isabella! It was admirable to see how Connor helped Isabella's father recuperate in body and mind, and his strength was able to continue as the foundation of Breeze Hill. The sweet romance is woven throughout various hardships and challenges, and I loved every minute of reading this book. Highly recommend to fans of Laura Frantz and Tamera Alexander! (I received a complimentary copy of the book; all opinions in this review are my own)
A powerful must read! It is written about a time in our history in the South. I fell in love with the characters. I loved the whole plot and especially the inspirational thread throughout the book. I cannot wait to read the next book in this series.
I have to say the first meet with Connor O’ Shea up on the auction block; I knew my heart was in trouble! As soon as I heard his Irish lilt, I was in deep waters and didn’t care if I drowned. His sparkling green eyes and crooked smile added to his charm, the more I got to know his character in the story, the more I knew he was a man of integrity, gentle faith, and a rare steadfastness. A man one could count on in a pinch, reliable as the snow in winter and a great protector of those he feels responsible for. He has a great capacity to love as seen in his need to secure passage for his younger brothers. A hero worthy of his weight in gold. Of course, any good hero needs a heroine by his side! I think he more than met his match in Isabella Bartholomew. A lady of distinguishable character who’s been through the fire, literally after her plantation & cotton crops caught fire all but destroying her home, a lucrative future and the father she loves. Having been thrust into a position no lady of her era should be in, she rises above the challenge by indenturing O’ Shea to rebuild Breeze Hill in exchange for his brother’s safe passage to the Americas. These two certainly shoot sparks and brandish words as if sword fighting! Snappish dialogue aside, there’s an ever-growing attraction just under the surface which adds to the tension. No story would be complete without some nefarious characters to add extra layers to an already tense plot. It certainly had me turning pages faster just to see what happens next and how both O’Shea and Mistress Bartholomew can eliminate the danger surrounding the estate. Lastly, I never heard of the Natchez Trace and the author certainly gives a complete picture in history. A dangerous passage wrought with highwaymen with no regard to life and the greed of money making many a wary traveler. I found this to be a historically rich, many layered, and engaging novel with the kind of character depth I so love. I would easily put this as one of my top reads of 2017, finishing it in a mere 24 hours!
I felt as if I was right there on the porch of that beautiful antebellum home, sipping on tea and then strolling along the grape arbor. Pam writes such a beautiful captivating story. A story with realistic, flawed characters that touch your heart and linger in your mind long after you’ve read the final pages. Isabella has suffered great loss in her family, and she is shouldering the weight of not only the future of the plantation but that of her family as well. Her focus is on that of bringing in this next crop of cotton, and in rebuilding the wing of their plantation home that was burned out. Connor hides his past hurt and distrust of others behind a strong work ethic and a desire to reunite with his brothers. It isn’t often that you find a male heroine who has self-doubt, but I found that it really made him more realistic and gave the reader a deeper glimpse into who he is. Connor is now on my list of favorite unconventional hero’s. I must add that I really enjoyed the teasing side of him, that showed his fun personality. The historical setting of this book along the Natchez Trace isn’t a place I’ve read about before, and I really enjoyed learning about this piece of American history. Some day I’d like to travel the National Park highway along the Natchez Trace and see the sights. Bottom line, this is a fantastic book. The characters are dynamic and realistic, the story is well researched and written. The plot moves along and kept me turning the pages long into the night. I highly recommend this delightful story! (I receive complimentary books for review from publishers, publicists, and/or authors, including NetGalley. I am not required to write positive reviews. The opinions I have expressed are my own.)
Before moving to Tennessee, I had never heard of the Natchez Trace. Now, I can get to it in about twenty minutes. One day, I’d like to drive the Trace all the way to Natchez, Mississippi. Until then, I’m enjoying the beauty of the seasons along the Tennessee portion of this passage. In The Promise of Breeze Hill, Pam Hillman brings characters who live along the Mississippi portion of the trace to life. Readers get to experience the danger—both from nature and from man—of traveling along this trail in the late 1700s. Connor O’Shea, and indentured servant to Breeze Hill, knows how to push Isabella Bartholomew’s buttons and doesn’t hesitate to do so. His teasing makes him even more likeable after readers learn he’s indenturing himself in order to bring his brothers to the colonies from Ireland. Isabella is strong and determined (sometimes to the point of stubbornness). Both of these characters must come to terms with past events. Connor’s poor judgement in his youth separated him from his family. Isabella’s problems are more recent with her brother’s death and the fire that destroyed a part of her home and injured her family. There is plenty of intrigue as the residents of Breeze Hill try to unravel the mystery of who wants to hurt the family—and why. Add to it the criminals who attack travelers along the Natchez Trace that runs past Breeze Hill, the line of suitors vying for Isabella’s hand in marriage, and the growing chemistry and attraction between her and Connor, and this book kept me reading late into the wee hours of the morning as events unfolded and the truth was revealed. Disclosure statement: I receive complimentary books for review from publishers, publicists, and/or authors, including NetGalley. I am not required to write positive reviews. The opinions I have expressed are my own. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s 16 CFR, Part 255.
Natchez, Mississippi - 1791 Connor O’Shea is a skilled carpenter who has agreed to indenture himself to Miss Isabella Bartholomew of Breeze Hill Plantation to ensure that his four brothers can be brought over from Ireland. Isabella is acting on behalf of her father who has been ill. She explains to Connor that a fire destroyed part of their home, crops, and her father was severely burned trying to put out the fire. She needs Connor to use his skills to rebuild their home. Isabella’s brother was recently found dead. It is unclear if he was murdered or was killed by animals. Her sister-in-law, Leah, is expecting a baby and if the child is a boy, he will be the heir to Breeze Hill. Nolan Braxton, III is the owner of Braxton Hill Plantation. He wants to marry Isabella and combine the two plantations. However, the man harbors some deep and evil secrets. Connor inspects the burned section of the house and feels that he can be repaired. He begins work immediately in many areas on the plantation. Due to the fire that destroyed the crops, money is very tight at the Bartholomew home and the family refuses to use slaves as they feel it is very wrong. There is a route that must be traveled to get into Natchez and other large towns. However, it is very dangerous as many robbers ruthlessly attack people using the route to rob them of their profits when they return from selling their crops. Connor and Isabella face many setbacks from outlaws and other unknown people who are intent on destroying the plantation. But both of them are strong characters and are dedicated to seeing the plantation “rise again.” I enjoyed this book but must admit that the disasters were so numerous that it almost became laughable. The author seemed intent on adding as many as possible. However, the characters are well-written as are the descriptions of the time period and the daily hardships faced by these people. I could see this book made into a movie and I think it would be very successful! Copy provided by Edelweiss in exchange for a fair and honest review.
I loved this book what a great look at the late 1700’s in the now known state of Mississippi, which was under Spanish control at that point, and a lot of lawlessness. Connor O’Shea is a desperate man; he needs to be reunited with his brothers that are still in Ireland, so he puts himself in indenture to help. He is a master carpenter, and that is exactly what Isabella Bartholomew needs, she has lost so much and needs his help desperately, and thus the connection is made. The author has woven such a tale that I found myself in the shoes of these people, and although early on we know whom the culprit is, we are cringing every time he shows up. You begin to doubt some of the others, and wonder where their heart lies, and if everything here is going to go up in smoke. If you enjoy historical novels, this is a must read, and in the end you will be left with a lingering wish that the last page hadn’t been turned, and we could go back for more. Loved how this book circled around and was almost a repeat of long back family history, only not Connors, no wonder her father was so compassionate. I received this book through Ededweiss and Tyndale House Publishers, and was not required to give a positive review.
The Promise of Breeze Hill is a wonderful read. I am a huge fan of American historical fiction and I love that this book is set during the 1790s in Mississippi. I admire Connor and his determination to make sure his brothers in Ireland are able to join him. Isabella is not your typical plantation owner's daughter and I love how strong of a woman she is considering the times in history. I love this story, it is among my top favorites of the year and I highly recommend it. 100 stars. I received this book from the author, but was not required to write a review. This review is 100% my own honest opinion.
The Promise of Breeze Hill is a captivating historical romance by Pam Hillman. The book is set in the late 1700s along the Natchez Trace, a historic forest trail extending from Natchez, Mississippi, to Nashville, Tennessee. Carpenter Connor O'Shea has indentured himself to Breeze Hill Plantation in the hopes of earning enough to bring his brothers from Ireland to live with him. Isabella, daughter of the owner of the plantation, has a lot on her shoulders with not only her father recovering from injuries and her recently widowed sister-in-law soon to give birth but also the responsibilities of the plantation to contend with. Her faith in God is gone...so many tragedies have happened. Why? Who is behind it all? With Connor's arrival, the sparks begin to fly between him and Isabella. Will those sparks be strong enough to overcome the myriad of obstacles that stand in the way of a relationship between them and light the fire of romance? Readers will find a gritty book that has explosive and fast-paced action with knife fights, ambushes, a tornado, and near drownings. And there are lots of highwaymen, outlaws, and slave traders to keep the good guys on their toes. The author presents well-developed and strong characters with emotions that captivate the reader's interest and imagination and she does a fantastic job of describing the scenes, enabling the reader to feel right in the middle of the story. The Promise of Breeze Hill is well written and full of authenticity as it tells a little history of the rugged Mississippi frontier, portrays poignant family situations, and weaves a subtle thread of faith in God throughout. I am looking forward to more in the Natchez Trace series. I received a complimentary copy of the book from the author. I was not required to write a review and the opinions are my own.
The Promise of Breeze Hills, written by Pam Hillman, is set in Natchez, Mississippi in 1791. Connor O'Shea was indentured to a master craftsman who past away. He was to continue working to pay for passage for his brothers to come to the United States. He is being auctioned off and Isabella Bartholomew has purchased his papers. The Bartholomew plantation has been struck by bad luck. The house caught fire along with their cotton fields. Her father was severely injured in the house fire. Shortly after, Isabella's brother was killed by highwaymen. Isabella is now responsible for the running of the family home. With the loss of the cotton, they were not able to keep on their employees and only a few have remained. Her family does not believe in having slaves and there are not enough employees to do all the work. Connor is to repair the house in exchange of the Bartholomew's bringing his brothers to the area. Even though Connor reports to Mr. Bartholomew, he has to work with Isabella and at times this is a struggle as they both have feeling for each other that they are trying to ignore. Connor finds out they have a sawmill as well. With the help of a few employees, he starts cutting trees to make lumber to rebuild the house. One day Pastor Horne and his family stop by and ask to work in exchange of a place to stay, as his wife is expecting another child. The entire Horne family pitch in to help, some working at the sawmill, some on the house and some in the fields. As the family's mourning period comes to an end, men from the surrounding area come to visit Isabella. A neighbor, Nolan Braxton, plans to marry her to get the plantation to carry out his business. This is a good story. I enjoyed reading about the strength and determination that Isabella had to try to save her family's home and plantation. As well as the sacrifice Connor is making to help bring all his brothers from Ireland. Connor also gives assistance to those he meets that are in need. He also finds little things Mr. Bartholomew can do to give him something to do besides sit in his room. I appreciate the faith that the characters have. Even though the family does not have extra to spare, they take on the pastor's family. This story is fast paced with mystery and suspense woven through out it. The romance is not so strong that it overwhelms the story. The story is so well written it is easy to imagine the storm as well as the dangers the characters face. There a a lot of characters, but they are well introduced and easy to follow. I would recommend this book to anyone who enjoys reading early American historical fiction. I received a copy of this book from Tyndale Publishing. This is my honest review.