This historical romance combines a number of issues. First is the glass ceiling. Willow wants to take over running the sugar manufacturing empire from her ailing father, with his permission and enthusiastic mentoring. It is an era when women are not thought suitable for business so the stockholders demand she be married first.
This brings up the second issue, a sort of bachelorette contest. Willow's mother invites men to vie for marriage to their very eligible and potentially wealthy daughter. And that bring up another issue of the paparazzi. A well known family, Willow's husband contest brings with it much adverse publicity.
Hitchcock adds a bit of business intrigue and mystery to provide some depth to the plot. Since Willow is naïve enough to take her suitors at face value and is allowed to be with them unchaperoned, there is some suspense too.
I had some serious issues with the novel. I found it odd that in this era the men had six months to lounge around, apparently not having to work or manage their businesses, to be at the call for time with Willow. And that the men stayed in the same house with Willow just seemed unrealistic. And then there was all the unchaperoned time she spent with various men. Unrealistic all around.
My biggest issue was with the development of the character Willow. She plans to run the sugar manufacturing empire. She has been to college and taken the kinds of classes needed to do so. Yet she comes across as a very naïve and foolish woman. (Her thoughts on her own foolishness on page 300.) She can't spot a single fraud among the suitors. She believes she is a savvy business woman yet cannot detect blatant deception unfolding right before her eyes. Having been a female business owner myself, Willow's character absolutely did not work for me. There is no way she is at all suitable for running a business. No wonder the stockholders doubted her ability.
This is a novel for readers who would appreciate reading about men posturing with clenched fists for Willow's attention. Readers would need to be able to overlook inconsistencies in Willow's character as well, just enjoying the book for the basic romance aspects of it.
You can read an excerpt here.
My rating: 3/5 stars.
Grace Hitchcock is the author of multiple historical novels and novellas. She has a master's degree in creative writing and a bachelor of arts in English with a minor in history. She lives in Baton Rouge with her husband and children. You can find out more at www.gracehitchcock.com.
Bethany House, 368 pages.
I received a complimentary copy of this book from the publisher. My comments are an independent and honest review.
(My star ratings: 5-I love it, 4-I like it, 3-It's OK, 2-I don't like it, 1-I hate it.)