Friday, October 12, 2012

Secret Promise Reviewed by Paul Elliott, M. D.

Mary Lou Cheatham is wonderful, skillful author who is accomplished at threading compelling fictional stories with romantic interest through an accurate historical framework. Secret Promise, set in south Mississippi in 1907, is an excellent example. Secret Promise is an intriguing variation on the Cinderella theme. Mary Lou beautifully captures and energizes in the reader the range of feelings and politics of the days of prohibition, racial discord, and substandard schools in her home state at the turn of the Twentieth Century.

Hortense Clemons, the epitome of a wicked stepmother, has two goals: helping her daughters marry successful men and keeping plenty of moonshine available to treat her lumbago.

These are the days of prohibition, racial discord, and substandard schools. On the positive side, 1907 is in the middle of the era of innovation. Model T's and Coca Colas are new. Women are exchanging their hooped skirts and whalebone for a sleeker natural look. Senator Clemons works to improve conditions in Mississippi, while his daughter Caroline helps keep him in office.

Rage, pride, and unforgiveness overwhelm Jake. Who will help him find his way back to God? Will Caroline have enough courage to embrace life? Join her as she flees from her attackers. Follow her as she crosses racial barriers. Sit with her at the governor's table.

Come follow Caroline and Jake on romantic train rides, strolls under an umbrella in the rain, walks at night under gaslights. Cry with them, laugh with them. pray with them. See Caroline and Jake sit in a fringed topped surrey on a bridge on a secluded road. Does Cinderella marry the Prince? Sometimes yes, sometimes no. Does the Secret Promise get in the way? You'll have to read Secret Promise to find out.

Secret Promise has the elements of historical fiction, a spine-tingling mystery, and the beauty of romance, yet the story moves with an urgency that compels the reader to beg for more.

Whether you prefer history, mystery, or romance you should read this book!