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North Carolina, 1793 Ian Cameron, a Boston cabinetmaker turned frontier trapper, has come to Mountain Laurel hoping to remake himself yet again--into his planter uncle's heir. No matter how uneasily the role of slave owner rests upon his shoulders. Then he meets Seona--beautiful, artistic, and enslaved to his kin. Seona has a secret: she's been drawing for years, ever since North Carolina, 1793 Ian Cameron, a Boston cabinetmaker turned frontier trapper, has come to Mountain Laurel hoping to remake himself yet again--into his planter uncle's heir. No matter how uneasily the role of slave owner rests upon his shoulders. Then he meets Seona--beautiful, artistic, and enslaved to his kin. Seona has a secret: she's been drawing for years, ever since that day she picked up a broken slate to sketch a portrait. When Ian catches her at it, he offers her opportunity to let her talent flourish, still secretly, in his cabinetmaking shop. Taking a frightening leap of faith, Seona puts her trust in Ian. A trust that leads to a deeper, more complicated bond. As fascination with Seona turns to love, Ian can no longer be the man others have wished him to be. Though his own heart might prove just as untrustworthy a guide, he cannot simply walk away from those his kin enslaves. With more lives than his and Seona's in the balance, the path Ian chooses now will set the course for generations of Camerons to come. A story of choice and consequence, of bondage and freedom, of faith and family.


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North Carolina, 1793 Ian Cameron, a Boston cabinetmaker turned frontier trapper, has come to Mountain Laurel hoping to remake himself yet again--into his planter uncle's heir. No matter how uneasily the role of slave owner rests upon his shoulders. Then he meets Seona--beautiful, artistic, and enslaved to his kin. Seona has a secret: she's been drawing for years, ever since North Carolina, 1793 Ian Cameron, a Boston cabinetmaker turned frontier trapper, has come to Mountain Laurel hoping to remake himself yet again--into his planter uncle's heir. No matter how uneasily the role of slave owner rests upon his shoulders. Then he meets Seona--beautiful, artistic, and enslaved to his kin. Seona has a secret: she's been drawing for years, ever since that day she picked up a broken slate to sketch a portrait. When Ian catches her at it, he offers her opportunity to let her talent flourish, still secretly, in his cabinetmaking shop. Taking a frightening leap of faith, Seona puts her trust in Ian. A trust that leads to a deeper, more complicated bond. As fascination with Seona turns to love, Ian can no longer be the man others have wished him to be. Though his own heart might prove just as untrustworthy a guide, he cannot simply walk away from those his kin enslaves. With more lives than his and Seona's in the balance, the path Ian chooses now will set the course for generations of Camerons to come. A story of choice and consequence, of bondage and freedom, of faith and family.

30 review for Mountain Laurel (Kindred #1)

  1. 5 out of 5

    Lori Benton

    Started 2004, April 10 Finished 2019, December 31 Release date: 2020, September 1 Dates reflect how long this book took to research, write, wait for a publishing home, edit, and release. [6/28/20] I want to share about Mountain Laurel's very long journey to publication, and my hope for this book. Although this will be my seventh published historical novel set during the 18th century, it's actually the first I wrote. Because I came to it largely ignorant of the time period (I couldn't have told you Started 2004, April 10 Finished 2019, December 31 Release date: 2020, September 1 Dates reflect how long this book took to research, write, wait for a publishing home, edit, and release. [6/28/20] I want to share about Mountain Laurel's very long journey to publication, and my hope for this book. Although this will be my seventh published historical novel set during the 18th century, it's actually the first I wrote. Because I came to it largely ignorant of the time period (I couldn't have told you the year the Revolutionary War started), and for other reasons that had nothing to do with my woeful lack of knowledge of my own nation's history, it took me nearly five years to research and write Mountain Laurel (2004-2009). By the time I'd finished I felt as if I'd given myself a history degree. That early research consisted of reading hundreds of books on topics ranging from 18th century life (what people wore, ate, lived in, did for work and play), the history of Colonial North America in general and North Carolina specifically... to more specialized topics like plantation economy, slave laws, the Underground Railroad, Eli Whitney’s cotton gin, the Dismal Swamp Canal, the Scottish Jacobite Rising, Scottish immigration to North Carolina, how to construct a dovetail joint, treat malaria, and fire a black powder rifle. I talked to an acquaintance who was stalked by a mountain lion, and to my own mother who picked the worms off tobacco plants when she was a little girl. I watched every documentary and YouTube video on the 18th century I could find, spent hundreds of hours Googling subjects and historical figures, and took a memorable road trip through western North Carolina, visiting the story’s setting. Then I took a couple more years to whittle down a very overwritten manuscript which, after reading it, convinced my agent to sign me as a client. Then for nearly a decade we could not sell this book. We wondered why. We speculated. We set it aside. But we held onto our passion for the story. A little over a year ago we decided to give it one more try, and Tyndale made us an offer. Now here's a thing about timing. Mine and God's. For years I thought Mountain Laurel would be my debut novel. Obviously God had other ideas. He chose it to be my seventh, and for it to reach readers in 2020. Until a few weeks ago I presumed it was because I would need to write five more novels before I finally wrote my sixth, The King's Mercy, which perfectly sets up Mountain Laurel (two characters in TKM (Alex and Jemma) visit the plantation, Mountain Laurel, some 50 years prior to the eponymous book’s setting). I still believe that was part of the delay in timing. But now I believe there's more to it. In all my books you will find characters who have, willingly or not, crossed a line between cultures and changed because of this experience. Mountain Laurel might be the deepest I’ve ever gone with this theme of transformation via a deepening of empathy for those who are in some way different. How aware we are becoming of a need for such empathy in our own lives these days! My heart as a storyteller has always been to work myself under the skin and into the heart and mind of a life I haven’t lived, to feel the suffering of wounds I haven’t taken, to rejoice in triumphs I haven’t known. In other words, to stretch my human empathy as far as it will go across the pages of my novels. No matter if that character from whose point of view I’m telling the story is a Native American man, an African American child, or a white woman who sees the world through the lens of her 18th century upbringing. None of them is me. None of them think like me. Yet with each one I endeavor to see with their eyes, feel with their heart, and re-embrace the light and truth of the good news of Jesus dying on the cross in humanity's place through their specific set of needs, longings, and hopes. Each human being who hears His call and answers it reflects a facet of His nature that is unique and precious, and it's to our benefit to bend our empathy as far as it will go in understanding the heart of a brother or sister who looks different, speaks differently, or has had an upbringing unlike our own. The enrichment flows both ways and is eternal. My awareness of this need expanded in the writing of Mountain Laurel, and is expanding still. My prayer is that yours is too, and that the journey you take when you read Mountain Laurel will be another small step toward that end. I stand back in some wonder at the timing of this book releasing this of all years. Be assured that, as with all my novels, healing and hope are woven through the sometimes unflinching rawness of these pages. I invite you on this journey of transformation with me and the characters, Ian Cameron and Seona. And more than ever before I wish you happy reading. ~Lori

  2. 5 out of 5

    Bonnie DeMoss

    It is 1793, and Ian Cameron has returned to Mountain Laurel, his uncle’s plantation in North Carolina, where he spent time as a boy. Now a grown man, he is being groomed as his uncle’s heir. When Ian sees Seona for the first time, he is immediately captivated by her green eyes and does not realize she is enslaved to his kin. When he learns of Seona’s hidden talent as an artist, he encourages it and finds ways for her to hide it from his cruel step-aunt, Lucinda. Lucinda does not believe slaves s It is 1793, and Ian Cameron has returned to Mountain Laurel, his uncle’s plantation in North Carolina, where he spent time as a boy. Now a grown man, he is being groomed as his uncle’s heir. When Ian sees Seona for the first time, he is immediately captivated by her green eyes and does not realize she is enslaved to his kin. When he learns of Seona’s hidden talent as an artist, he encourages it and finds ways for her to hide it from his cruel step-aunt, Lucinda. Lucinda does not believe slaves should read, write, or do anything to take time away from their chores. The story is told from the alternating viewpoints of Ian and Seona, who has hidden her art all her life. “Every slave has a secret. This one is mine.” As time progresses, Ian finds himself conflicted between his growing feelings for Seona, his loyalty to his family, and his responsibility to all those enslaved on the plantation. This heart-rending book from Benton shows us all the horrors of slavery. In addition to the beatings, rapes, terror, and torture, it shows the true effects of taking away someone’s will and refusing to let them have any dreams or desires. It shows how some people of that time watched slaves being paraded down the road in chains, did nothing, and then went to church on Sunday. Lori Benton writes about this as if she were there, laying bare the pain of someone else owning your body and your soul. However, faith and the desire for redemption are also present, especially in the quiet faith of the slave Lily and the redemption Ian desperately seeks. This is the first book in the Kindred series, and I cannot wait to see these characters return. I received a free copy of this book from the publishers via Historical Novels Review Magazine. My opinions are my own.

  3. 5 out of 5

    Amanda Geaney

    When you come across an author of this caliber, you rush to read every book they've written. I have been an admirer and vocal supporter of Lori Benton ever since reading The Wood's Edge (2015).  One thing that endears me to her is how she consistently pens sympathetic characters who have to stumble down the wrong path in order to find their way—The Way. Often times, as it was with Ian Cameron, self-reliance and fleshly desires lead to heartache and forced humility. The destruction left in the wak When you come across an author of this caliber, you rush to read every book they've written. I have been an admirer and vocal supporter of Lori Benton ever since reading The Wood's Edge (2015).  One thing that endears me to her is how she consistently pens sympathetic characters who have to stumble down the wrong path in order to find their way—The Way. Often times, as it was with Ian Cameron, self-reliance and fleshly desires lead to heartache and forced humility. The destruction left in the wake of Ian's choices frequently made me wonder how his world could ever be set right. As I read, I allowed myself to imagine each character's motives and actions in light of the times. This process was made possible by the author's skill blending relevant historical details with emotionally captivating scenes. So far, I've only mentioned Ian but I should also mention Seona, the woman of mixed heritage who wins his affections as well as my two favorite secondary characters, Lily and Judith. I liked Seona from the start. In some ways she's naive, yet in others, she has experienced too much darkness for her age. Despite this, she possesses an indomitable spirit and effervescent hope. As for Lily and Judith, I caution readers not to mistake their meekness for weakness because underneath their calm demeanor beats the heart of resilient women with incredible faith. The truth is we all long for stories about people who are flawed and fallen because we see ourselves in them and when they triumph we celebrate their victory. I continue to read Benton's works because I relish such stories. Once you read Mountain Laurel, you'll understand why I'm such a fan of this author and you'll join me in waiting for the conclusion of the Kindred duology. There is more of Ian and Seona's story that needs to be told! I received this book from the publisher through the NetGalley review program. I was not required to write a positive review. The opinions I have expressed are my own.

  4. 4 out of 5

    Susan

    Lori Benton has penned an expertly crafted tale. I cherished every word and emotion as the magic of its prose whisked me away to frontier America. Benton does not shy away from the tough subjects of right and wrong, handling the issues of slavery and immorality with grace. Mostly, it chronicles the spiritual journey of Ian Cameron, as he comes to grasps with his role as his uncle's heir on Mountain Laurel. Ms. Benton crafts characters who wound their way into my heart. With each page, I uncovere Lori Benton has penned an expertly crafted tale. I cherished every word and emotion as the magic of its prose whisked me away to frontier America. Benton does not shy away from the tough subjects of right and wrong, handling the issues of slavery and immorality with grace. Mostly, it chronicles the spiritual journey of Ian Cameron, as he comes to grasps with his role as his uncle's heir on Mountain Laurel. Ms. Benton crafts characters who wound their way into my heart. With each page, I uncovered layers of truth, revealing grace and mercy throughout. I am so grateful that this is the first in a two book series, so that I can spend more time with characters that populated the pages of Mountain Laurel. I received a complimentary copy of this book from the author/publisher and was not required to write a review. All opinions expressed are my own.

  5. 4 out of 5

    Melissa Tagg

    Every year, there are two or three book releases I look forward to more than any other...and Lori Benton's books are ALWAYS on that list. She is one of my very, very, verrrrry favorite authors and I truly believe she is one of the most gifted storytellers writing today. I'm really not exaggerating when I say every one of her books has felt like a masterpiece to me. So needless to say, I was so ridiculously and excitedly impatient to read Mountain Laurel...and now that I have, I really don't know Every year, there are two or three book releases I look forward to more than any other...and Lori Benton's books are ALWAYS on that list. She is one of my very, very, verrrrry favorite authors and I truly believe she is one of the most gifted storytellers writing today. I'm really not exaggerating when I say every one of her books has felt like a masterpiece to me. So needless to say, I was so ridiculously and excitedly impatient to read Mountain Laurel...and now that I have, I really don't know how to review it in any way that does it any kind of justice! But I'll try my best... As always with Benton's books, the writing of this novel is exquisite and the historical detail is rich and vivid. Both Ian and Seona captured my heart so quickly. One of the things I loved about Ian in particular is what a perfect mix he is of noble intentions and, at times, flawed actions. I felt his moments of desperation so deeply as I read—as well as his joy and Seona's long-suffering hope. I felt so much! And to me, that's the very best sign of an amazing book—the feelings it evokes. The emotional layering in Mountain Laurel is superb. I also loved the plot. It went places I absolutely did not expect and took twists and turns that kept me captivated page after page. It was both heart-rending and tender, and by the end I was caught in that wonderful sort of reader exhaustion and exhilaration that comes from having journeyed with the characters. The forbidden romance, the moments of desolate hardship, Seona's gentle strength and Ian's unending desire to make things right...all of it made for a story that swept me away entirely and completely. And woven throughout is a spiritual journey—especially on Ian's part—that stirred my soul in a way I was (and still am) thinking about weeks after reaching The End. This is the first in a two-book series, so I'm thrilled to know the story will continue! And I've heard we might see a familiar and much-beloved face from a past Lori Benton book!! (Joseph Tames-His Horse!!!! 😍😍😍) One last note: This story takes place during an especially harsh time in our country's history, which meant it wasn't necessarily easy to read at times. But I appreciated that the author didn't shy away from portraying the ugly realities of that time period, including slavery, but also that she didn't glorify or just lightly gloss over it. She handled it deftly and in a way that personally impacted me.

  6. 5 out of 5

    Staci

    Lori Benton's writing is beautiful and it's clear she has researched the time period and setting. I am glad there will be a sequel (Shiloh) as there is a lot left to be sorted out. Lori Benton's writing is beautiful and it's clear she has researched the time period and setting. I am glad there will be a sequel (Shiloh) as there is a lot left to be sorted out.

  7. 5 out of 5

    Jocelyn Green

    Wow. Lori Benton is an extremely talented author (one of the very best living today), but this book also proves how brave she is. The historical context of North Carolina in the 1790s is a rather painful one, but with unflinching detail, Lori has given us a story of slavery and redemption, bondage and freedom, of slow corruption and of spiritual transformation. I had a hard time rooting for the hero in this book because of his perspective and choices, but taken in the world in which he lived, it Wow. Lori Benton is an extremely talented author (one of the very best living today), but this book also proves how brave she is. The historical context of North Carolina in the 1790s is a rather painful one, but with unflinching detail, Lori has given us a story of slavery and redemption, bondage and freedom, of slow corruption and of spiritual transformation. I had a hard time rooting for the hero in this book because of his perspective and choices, but taken in the world in which he lived, it's easier to understand him. One of the most moving scenes in the novel for me came when he finally recognizes his brokenness and asks one of the slaves to tell him about his Jesus. Seona, as a heroine, comes across to me as reluctant for us to get to know her. This fits with her characterization as a slave who has been trained to hide true emotions and thoughts. This is not to say I didn't like Seona. I really did. She simply seems cautious about letting readers in for a while before she opens up. Flaws and all, I couldn't help but ache for these very real characters as I read their story. Being human means we make mistakes, and even the noblest of intentions can have unintended consequences. How we carry on after stumbling is still, always, up to us. I can't wait for the next book to continue this family's story, and I really hope we get to know Judith better. She is stronger than she seems.

  8. 5 out of 5

    Melanie

    Mountain Laurel is the first book I've read by Lori Benton, although I've heard wonderful things about her previous books and have a couple on my TBR. I didn't really have any expectations for Mountain Laurel. I started it curious to see what the story would bring...I feel like it was one that slowly sucks you in and takes you on a journey unlike any other. The characters were deep and felt realistic; they made questionable choices and had some challenging moments. The ending left me slightly conf Mountain Laurel is the first book I've read by Lori Benton, although I've heard wonderful things about her previous books and have a couple on my TBR. I didn't really have any expectations for Mountain Laurel. I started it curious to see what the story would bring...I feel like it was one that slowly sucks you in and takes you on a journey unlike any other. The characters were deep and felt realistic; they made questionable choices and had some challenging moments. The ending left me slightly confused and I'm eager to read the next book to see what happens next. All in all, Mountain Laurel was difficult to read in some ways and not always a happy read, but I really enjoyed it. Note: this story does contain some content that I wasn't a fan of and I only recommend it to mature readers. *Disclosure of Material Connection: I received one or more of the products or services mentioned above for free in the hope that I would mention/review it on my blog. I was not required to give a positive review, only my honest opinion - which I've done. All thoughts and opinions expressed are my own and I only recommend products or services I use personally and believe will be good for my readers. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission's 16 CFR, Part 255: "Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising.*

  9. 4 out of 5

    Deanne Patterson

    I am impressed every time I read a book by this author. Each new book I read by Lori Benton becomes my favorite by her and I think to myself she couldn't possibly top her last book but somehow she manages to do it. The research she puts into each book is incredible and I was interested in reading more about her research in the author notes in the back of the book. Mountain Laurel is a book written from the heart, it's the good,the bad and the ugly of the time period. While it may not always be pret I am impressed every time I read a book by this author. Each new book I read by Lori Benton becomes my favorite by her and I think to myself she couldn't possibly top her last book but somehow she manages to do it. The research she puts into each book is incredible and I was interested in reading more about her research in the author notes in the back of the book. Mountain Laurel is a book written from the heart, it's the good,the bad and the ugly of the time period. While it may not always be pretty it resonates true to the time period. Just fantastic . I highly recommend Mountain Laurel. Published September 1st 2020 by Tyndale House Publishers. I was given a complimentary copy. Thank you. All opinions expressed are my own.

  10. 4 out of 5

    Heidi Chiavaroli

    From Endorsement: With a masterful pen, Lori Benton creates a poignant story that will have readers flipping pages late into the night. Filled with historical authenticity, heart-touching romance, and inconceivable circumstances, this book is a celebration of freedom—both the physical and the eternal. I finished Mountain Laurel with both a sigh of satisfaction and a longing of expectation for what comes next for these characters. I highly recommend this novel!

  11. 4 out of 5

    Diana

    No Spoilers! Author Lori Benton has written an emotive, literary masterpiece as hauntingly beautiful as it is disturbing—the forbidden romance between its pages timeless, all consuming, and powerfully passionate—despite dire, insurmountable circumstances. Ian Cameron is a kind, compassionate man, easy on the eyes, but uneasy with the role of slave owner—especially when he meets the beautiful, light-skinned, green-eyed Seona. I loved her grit, quiet strength, and compliant spirit, and I literally No Spoilers! Author Lori Benton has written an emotive, literary masterpiece as hauntingly beautiful as it is disturbing—the forbidden romance between its pages timeless, all consuming, and powerfully passionate—despite dire, insurmountable circumstances. Ian Cameron is a kind, compassionate man, easy on the eyes, but uneasy with the role of slave owner—especially when he meets the beautiful, light-skinned, green-eyed Seona. I loved her grit, quiet strength, and compliant spirit, and I literally cried at the unfairness and cruelty she endured because of her pleasing looks and station in life. As a matter of fact, all the slaves became like family to me—Lily, Seona's mother, clothed with dignity & strength, Malcolm, with a tender heart for the Lord, simple-minded Ally, and Naomi, who could sure cook some good vittles! And ladies...you'll swoon over the tender love story between the romantic Ian and lovely Seona! As I was left bereft and staring into space with tears in my eyes at the conclusion of this heartrending story, I was quickly thrown into a state of euphoria when I read the author's note. Certain memorable characters will return in a sequel and I cannot wait! This novel wasn't an easy one to read by any means because of the slavery issue, but I'd like to think it'll make better people of us all and draw us closer to Him. 'Mountain Laurel' is a beautifully written, well-researched novel, destined to win many an award. You absolutely do not want to miss this one! *I received a complimentary copy of this novel from Tyndale House via NetGalley in exchange for my honest opinion. All thoughts expressed in this review are my own.*

  12. 5 out of 5

    Rebecca

    "I wanted what I wanted, thought I knew what was best, and found a way to make it happen." Ian Cameron's return to Mountain Laurel causes quite a stir. . . .among his kin, among those his kin own, but ultimately within the deepest recesses of his weary soul. Had he run away again, or had he found home; it seemed a mighty peculiar combination of both, especially after he discovers the one for whom his heart must have been longing for all along; Seona. Seona's green eyes and fair skin taunted the t "I wanted what I wanted, thought I knew what was best, and found a way to make it happen." Ian Cameron's return to Mountain Laurel causes quite a stir. . . .among his kin, among those his kin own, but ultimately within the deepest recesses of his weary soul. Had he run away again, or had he found home; it seemed a mighty peculiar combination of both, especially after he discovers the one for whom his heart must have been longing for all along; Seona. Seona's green eyes and fair skin taunted the truth of her heritage behind a curtain of secrecy that most slaves were unwilling to discuss. There was something else that Seona was good at hiding. Since her youngest of days, Seona had cautiously developed her artistic talents, carefully sketching in obscure places when no one else was around. Then along comes the one who had unknowingly been her first subject, recognizing her talent and growing to cherish it, along with her. When Seona's relationship with Ian evolves into something they dare not ignore, the repercussions drive Ian along a path that covers too many trails. "Mountain Laurel" is not a story, it's a journey; one fraught with the sort of danger and complication that result from one man owning another, where forbidden loves hope for futures that were never meant to be theirs. Then again, are "our failures ever an insurmountable barrier to grace"? Never. "The Father's been waitin' for ye to come home. Spirit's calling. The Son blazed the trail. All ye need to do is walk it". . . . . . welcome into a "new kindred". Prepare to be spellbound; though you may reluctantly close its cover, this epic tale will beg to remain within your heart and mind for days, even months, to come.

  13. 4 out of 5

    Leighellen Landskov

    "Every man makes himself a slave to someone or something. Your white skin doesna spare ye that." Mountain Laurel is an amazing revolutionary war time epic. If you enjoyed Lynn Austin’s Refiners Fire series or Francine Rivers Redeeming Love, you will love this incredibly heartbreaking historical fiction novel set in a 1790’s plantation. The story revolves around a young man named Ian, who comes back down to the south after living in Boston to take over his Uncle's plantation. He falls desperately "Every man makes himself a slave to someone or something. Your white skin doesna spare ye that." Mountain Laurel is an amazing revolutionary war time epic. If you enjoyed Lynn Austin’s Refiners Fire series or Francine Rivers Redeeming Love, you will love this incredibly heartbreaking historical fiction novel set in a 1790’s plantation. The story revolves around a young man named Ian, who comes back down to the south after living in Boston to take over his Uncle's plantation. He falls desperately in love with Seona, an incredibly gifted slave with a knack for art who has served the house since she was a child. As much as Ian tries to do the right thing he continues to fail and he cannot outrun his station nor the rules and racism of this time period. The book is filled with a rich abundance of love, loss, moral dilemmas, and a consistent theme of redemption. The over arching message of having faith over fear is as timeless as ever. This novel is incredibly researched and I found myself completely immersed in the sounds, smells, and history of the time period. It must have been such a frustrating time to be alive!!! But as with every period there was beauty and joy as well. This was a well balanced story of choice and consequence, bondage and freedom, faith and family. Thank you to @tlcbooktours @tyndalehouse @LoriBenton for my #gifted copy to read and review. I am looking forward to this becoming a series!

  14. 4 out of 5

    Rochelle Saldaña

    Mountain Laurel is a story woven so perfectly, bringing history and people who may have lived together. Perhaps what I loved most is that the book isn’t all sunshine and roses. There are heartaches and challenges. Tough decisions were made and evils were done. I am now anxiously awaiting the second book. I’m so glad that the story will continue. This may be my favorite Lori Benton book. I didn’t think Burning Sky could be topped, but this one was so good!!! Romance. History. Mystery. Gut wrenchi Mountain Laurel is a story woven so perfectly, bringing history and people who may have lived together. Perhaps what I loved most is that the book isn’t all sunshine and roses. There are heartaches and challenges. Tough decisions were made and evils were done. I am now anxiously awaiting the second book. I’m so glad that the story will continue. This may be my favorite Lori Benton book. I didn’t think Burning Sky could be topped, but this one was so good!!! Romance. History. Mystery. Gut wrenching at times. I laughed. I cried. I can’t wait to read more!!!

  15. 5 out of 5

    Karen R

    Another epic historical tale by Lori Benton, rich with unique characters and a beautiful narrative. The early American setting of a North Carolina plantation showed how entrenched slavery already was in a country who fought for and won freedom from England just a decade before. Part one of a series, the book was a satisfying read full of human drama, passion, and inspiration. The author does a wonderful job of pulling the reader into the lives of the characters--both slave and free. A glimpse of Another epic historical tale by Lori Benton, rich with unique characters and a beautiful narrative. The early American setting of a North Carolina plantation showed how entrenched slavery already was in a country who fought for and won freedom from England just a decade before. Part one of a series, the book was a satisfying read full of human drama, passion, and inspiration. The author does a wonderful job of pulling the reader into the lives of the characters--both slave and free. A glimpse of the early Underground Railroad and Abolition movement came into play as the plot revolved around the plight of the characters on the Mountain Laurel plantation. I felt for Ian and Seona who were caught in between it all. The faith element is brought out in a natural way in conversations and their personal struggles. I loved old Malcolm with his Scottish brogue, sharing pearls of wisdom with Ian, helping him see true freedom comes through faith in Christ. "’Tis your own soul’s freedom ye should be worrit over...Every man makes himself a slave to someone, or something." Ian was a man in need of God's grace and guidance, for sure. Recommend for readers who enjoy a story steeped in history with some grit and romance. Looking forward to the continued story in the next book, with a possible crossover to the author's other novels. (An ebook was provided by the publisher via NetGalley. All opinions expressed are my own.)

  16. 5 out of 5

    Nicole

    Gutted. This book. Has left me gutted. There were times reading this when Mountain Laurel and I were not on speaking terms with each other. I was so angry, conflicted, heartbroken, hopeful, and amazed... Like every other book I've read from Lori Benton, this story takes you into the early heart of America, and you feel. Every. Gritty. Throb of that heart. You go through the emotions that the characters are feeling, because they are real and understandable. Relatable, in the truest human sense of Gutted. This book. Has left me gutted. There were times reading this when Mountain Laurel and I were not on speaking terms with each other. I was so angry, conflicted, heartbroken, hopeful, and amazed... Like every other book I've read from Lori Benton, this story takes you into the early heart of America, and you feel. Every. Gritty. Throb of that heart. You go through the emotions that the characters are feeling, because they are real and understandable. Relatable, in the truest human sense of the word. You hope with them, rejoice with them, wonder and hurt with them. You anguish with them, and are led to cling tighter to Jesus with them. So here I am, back on speaking terms and giving this tragic, beautiful, soul-searching book 5 stars. Because it truly is a book readers must experience. Oh... Dear Fall 2021 - please hurry. I need Shiloh.

  17. 4 out of 5

    Cheryl Barker

    Loved this historical fiction masterfully written by Lori Benton. Set in late 1700s North Carolina, slavery was among several serious topics Benton built her story around. Lyrical storytelling style, characters that come to life, and emotional depth that kept me fully invested definitely make Mountain Laurel a book that historical fiction fans won't want to miss. This story will continue in a second book, but Benton handled this in expert fashion in my opinion -- no cliffhangers, but instead a n Loved this historical fiction masterfully written by Lori Benton. Set in late 1700s North Carolina, slavery was among several serious topics Benton built her story around. Lyrical storytelling style, characters that come to life, and emotional depth that kept me fully invested definitely make Mountain Laurel a book that historical fiction fans won't want to miss. This story will continue in a second book, but Benton handled this in expert fashion in my opinion -- no cliffhangers, but instead a natural break that does indeed have readers hoping for a continuation. Can't wait to meet these characters again in the follow-up! Highly recommend.

  18. 4 out of 5

    Victoria

    Lori Benton weaves a narrative that is rich in history, people and emotions. It will take you on a journey of love and heartbreak, freedom and bondage, and truth and secrets. Lori Benton’s descriptions are so rich in detail that they’ll take you back in time to a world so far removed from ours. There you meet Seona (pronounced shona), a woman who’s been a slave her whole life and never dreamed of a life beyond it. Ian is running from his past when he arrives at Mountain Laurel, only to encounter Lori Benton weaves a narrative that is rich in history, people and emotions. It will take you on a journey of love and heartbreak, freedom and bondage, and truth and secrets. Lori Benton’s descriptions are so rich in detail that they’ll take you back in time to a world so far removed from ours. There you meet Seona (pronounced shona), a woman who’s been a slave her whole life and never dreamed of a life beyond it. Ian is running from his past when he arrives at Mountain Laurel, only to encounter new obstacles that will challenge his moral fibre. Seona is trying to maintain her faith in seemingly impossible circumstances. Ian is a man who doesn’t seek God until he reaches his lowest point and has no where else to turn. Their attraction is instantaneous and forbidden as they search for a path that will allow them to be together without losing those they care about. This novel seriously divided me and pitted my romantic heart against my moral compass. I’m usually quite good at predicting what is going to happen in a book but this story genuinely surprised me with an ending that was not entirely satisfying and yet was so perfect. It makes me so impatient for the sequel!

  19. 5 out of 5

    Lori

    As always Benton has delivered another wonderful story! She's my go to for historical fiction. I always look forward to seeing what she comes out with next and I'm never disappointed! She's fabulous and I highly recommend her. I love how her research is turned into stories so that we can enjoy them too. Her characters were so very real that I could feel their feelings coming to me from out of the book. I couldn't out the book down until I had finished Ian and Seona's story. The many turns of this As always Benton has delivered another wonderful story! She's my go to for historical fiction. I always look forward to seeing what she comes out with next and I'm never disappointed! She's fabulous and I highly recommend her. I love how her research is turned into stories so that we can enjoy them too. Her characters were so very real that I could feel their feelings coming to me from out of the book. I couldn't out the book down until I had finished Ian and Seona's story. The many turns of this story surprised me in a lot of areas. Benton has done an excellent job with this. I'll be honest. I dislike slavery! It's wrong in the way they were treated. Parts of this book made me very sad that I wanted to cry. I especially appreciated the way she described the scenes in the story that it made me feel like I was "seeing" the land for the first time. I actually could relate to Seona on one thing and that's her love of drawing things. Such talent! I really admired Ian. I liked him for his loyalty to Seona. I didn't like the overseer in this story at all! I'm glad to see that there will be another book after this one! I so can't wait! more to come later My thanks to Netgalley for a copy of this book. I was NOT required to write a positive review and all opinions are my own

  20. 4 out of 5

    Nancy

    I will admit to really enjoying this book. There are times I struggled with it though. It was historically accurate in the relationships but they still are harder to accept today. It also gives a great perspective and many times I was brought to tears. Beautifully and artfully written as Lori Bentons books are written. She has a beautiful way of sharing a story with her words. And I’m so glad this book is just the first! I am ready to read more of this family’s trials and triumphs. I received a I will admit to really enjoying this book. There are times I struggled with it though. It was historically accurate in the relationships but they still are harder to accept today. It also gives a great perspective and many times I was brought to tears. Beautifully and artfully written as Lori Bentons books are written. She has a beautiful way of sharing a story with her words. And I’m so glad this book is just the first! I am ready to read more of this family’s trials and triumphs. I received a copy of this book from NetGalley. All views stated are my own.

  21. 5 out of 5

    Susan Snodgrass

    'He went on breathing. The pieces of his heart kept beating. And on that road grace met him.' Set in North Carolina in 1793, Lori Benton once again takes her readers on another journey to the American frontier. Ian Cameron is his uncle's heir but cannot be easy with the role of slave owner, especially the one called Seona. As a deep bond forms with them, Ian realizes his life has become incredibly complicated and finds himself in a place where generations will feel the consequences of his choices 'He went on breathing. The pieces of his heart kept beating. And on that road grace met him.' Set in North Carolina in 1793, Lori Benton once again takes her readers on another journey to the American frontier. Ian Cameron is his uncle's heir but cannot be easy with the role of slave owner, especially the one called Seona. As a deep bond forms with them, Ian realizes his life has become incredibly complicated and finds himself in a place where generations will feel the consequences of his choices. Because all choices have consequences and a lot are very painful. As always, Benton's prose is deeply moving and her historical detail stunning. She brings to life each character and leaves the reader richer for having read it. *My thanks to Tyndale House Publishers for a copy of this book. The opinion in this review is my own.

  22. 5 out of 5

    Kami S

    I had to mull over this one a few days before I rated it. The writing is a solid 5 stars. Character development, 5 stars. A page turner, 5 stars. Characters feel like real, 5 stars. Historical accuracy, 5 stars. BUT... I didn't like the story. There's huge mistakes and huge consequences... misunderstandings... more mistakes, heartache and more consequences. I get that the story is about a faith journey, real life situations in an unfair world (esp the history of our country at that time), humans I had to mull over this one a few days before I rated it. The writing is a solid 5 stars. Character development, 5 stars. A page turner, 5 stars. Characters feel like real, 5 stars. Historical accuracy, 5 stars. BUT... I didn't like the story. There's huge mistakes and huge consequences... misunderstandings... more mistakes, heartache and more consequences. I get that the story is about a faith journey, real life situations in an unfair world (esp the history of our country at that time), humans making human choices and living with the consequences. I almost threw the book across the room... twice! A most unsatisfying ending. A bit too much description of intimate moments was disappointing as well. I MIGHT read the sequel, if only to see what happens and to read more about Joseph Tames His Horse (from Burning Sky..I heard he'll be in it)...

  23. 4 out of 5

    Trisha

    I have been a fan of Lori Benton’s books since her first book, Burning Sky in 2013. I don’t even read the synopsis on the back of the books anymore because I know that if Lori Benton wrote it, I’m going to love it! Reading this story was like taking a trip back in time. I felt like I was in North Carolina in 1793. These characters wrapped themselves around my heart, flaws and all. This story has unapparelled depth, both in the characters themselves and in the very fabric of the story. I took my I have been a fan of Lori Benton’s books since her first book, Burning Sky in 2013. I don’t even read the synopsis on the back of the books anymore because I know that if Lori Benton wrote it, I’m going to love it! Reading this story was like taking a trip back in time. I felt like I was in North Carolina in 1793. These characters wrapped themselves around my heart, flaws and all. This story has unapparelled depth, both in the characters themselves and in the very fabric of the story. I took my time reading this story, and I loved every moment. My heart may never be the same after finishing this story, and I am really excited to see what will happen in the next book! (I receive complimentary books from publishers, publicists and/or authors, including netgalley. I am not required to write positive reviews. The opinions I have expressed are my own.)

  24. 4 out of 5

    Norma

    Mountain Laurel captures the reader Lori Benton has done it again with a story impossible to put down. Mountain Laurel people the imagination with characters that spring to life. The story is filled with romance, history, and passion that leaves you wanting more.

  25. 4 out of 5

    Ann

    Lori Benton has written a story that will stay with me for many days. Set in North Carolina in the late 1700’s, the conflict between freedom and slavery is shown through the lives of Ian Cameron and his uncle Hugh Cameron, the owner of a tobacco plantation. From the beginning , the reader is drawn into the lives of those who live and work on Mountain Laurel. The human cost of slavery is told in gripping narrative, filled with dueling emotions. All of the characters, each one fully drawn and fully Lori Benton has written a story that will stay with me for many days. Set in North Carolina in the late 1700’s, the conflict between freedom and slavery is shown through the lives of Ian Cameron and his uncle Hugh Cameron, the owner of a tobacco plantation. From the beginning , the reader is drawn into the lives of those who live and work on Mountain Laurel. The human cost of slavery is told in gripping narrative, filled with dueling emotions. All of the characters, each one fully drawn and fully believable, made Mountain Laurel a book I couldn’t put down. I hated to see it end, but thankfully there will be a sequel!

  26. 4 out of 5

    Rosalyn

    This is my first experience with reading anything written by Lori Benton, and I am amazed at her talent. I first picked up the book and began reading because I kept hearing rave reviews from other avid readers, but the cover left me a bit unsure, and actually led me to believe that I just might not actually like it all that well. As I began reading, the story pulled me in a bit slowly at first, but the longer I read, the more captivated I became. And I ended this book in love with this author's t This is my first experience with reading anything written by Lori Benton, and I am amazed at her talent. I first picked up the book and began reading because I kept hearing rave reviews from other avid readers, but the cover left me a bit unsure, and actually led me to believe that I just might not actually like it all that well. As I began reading, the story pulled me in a bit slowly at first, but the longer I read, the more captivated I became. And I ended this book in love with this author's talented writing style. I am determined to go back and find and read her other books in the very near future! Now, on to this story...Ian is rather an unlikely hero. He's made lots of mistakes in the past, and he's not afraid to admit this and own up to them. He's striving to be a better man. But, he continues to mess up (don't we all?!) and suffers some consequences that are rather severe. I just loved the characters. They came to life before my very eyes. Seona was an intriguing person. And I also liked Lily. But then a few others were not quite so likeable. This is a story about slavery. Relationships between blacks and whites back in those days were not so good, and extremely complicated. I was made aware in a new way how terrible it really was in that time period. This book showcases humanity, slavery, relationships, and so many other things in just an absolutely beautiful way. Disclaimer: I receive complimentary books from various sources, including, publishers, publicists, authors, and/or NetGalley. I am not required to write a positive review, and have not received any compensation. The opinions shared here are my own entirely. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s 16 CFR, Part 255

  27. 4 out of 5

    Amanda

    I’ve absolutely loved Lori’s previous books, so it was such a disappointment to not like this one! The story seemed to drag on forever without really going anywhere. I guessed the “twist” early on, skipped through the majority of the middle and obviously didn’t miss much as the ending made sense. Although, she did leave the ending open without much closure as the story is to be continued in the next book which I always find a little annoying. Can’t say I cared enough about the story to pick up t I’ve absolutely loved Lori’s previous books, so it was such a disappointment to not like this one! The story seemed to drag on forever without really going anywhere. I guessed the “twist” early on, skipped through the majority of the middle and obviously didn’t miss much as the ending made sense. Although, she did leave the ending open without much closure as the story is to be continued in the next book which I always find a little annoying. Can’t say I cared enough about the story to pick up the next book and find out what happens.

  28. 5 out of 5

    Grace

    Mountain Laurel is an intriguing look into the institution of slavery after the Revolutionary War, and what it would be like for someone to inherit that. Both Ian and Seona are characters with depth. Both have certain set ideas as the book starts, and those are challenged depending on the pressures around them. I liked the dynamic of Thomas’ and Ian’s relationship. I think that really displayed some of the intricacies of the period. Because of who the characters are from the beginning to nearly th Mountain Laurel is an intriguing look into the institution of slavery after the Revolutionary War, and what it would be like for someone to inherit that. Both Ian and Seona are characters with depth. Both have certain set ideas as the book starts, and those are challenged depending on the pressures around them. I liked the dynamic of Thomas’ and Ian’s relationship. I think that really displayed some of the intricacies of the period. Because of who the characters are from the beginning to nearly the end of the book, some of the choices they made were not ones that I liked. I alternately liked Ian and then disliked him for the way he handled things and his selfishness. However, as he began to change, it really highlighted the difference that was happening in his life. The faith element played out in a real-life way that I appreciated. I didn’t realize as I was reading this story that it was the first in a two-book series. I’m glad for that, because as I was nearing the end, I could see no way that the author could wrap everything up in a satisfactory way. In all, I enjoyed this book, but I do have to say it wasn’t my favorite novel by Lori Benton. But I’ll be looking forward to reading where she takes these characters next. I received a complimentary copy of this book from the publisher. I was not required to write a positive review. All opinions expressed are mine alone.

  29. 5 out of 5

    Jessica Higgins

    Rich historical setting combined with flawed characters seeking redemption make this a can’t miss for genre lovers! Ian Cameron never planned to set foot again on his uncle’s plantation in North Carolina. But in 1793 after his cabinet making apprenticeship doesn’t go as planned, he makes the journey back again. He feels he must put his past behind him and become the man to take over the plantation after his uncle passes. Upon his arrival, he quickly learns that he doesn’t fit the preferences of h Rich historical setting combined with flawed characters seeking redemption make this a can’t miss for genre lovers! Ian Cameron never planned to set foot again on his uncle’s plantation in North Carolina. But in 1793 after his cabinet making apprenticeship doesn’t go as planned, he makes the journey back again. He feels he must put his past behind him and become the man to take over the plantation after his uncle passes. Upon his arrival, he quickly learns that he doesn’t fit the preferences of his new aunt and her daughters. Then he meets Seona, a light skinned young lady who is very artistic. He’s very taken by her, but there is a small problem. She is enslaved to his uncle. Seona remembers the last time Mister Ian was at the planation. She has never forgotten his pale flax hair color and he was one of the first pictures that she drew. She has continued to draw but keeps it a secret to keep her and her family safe. When Ian discovers her talent, he encourages it and even offers her the use of his cabinet making shop to continue to develop her drawing. Can Seona put her trust in Ian? Somebody who might own her one day? This is the first novel that I’ve read by Lori Benton and I find it hard to believe that I haven’t come across her works before. She has tremendous talent for developing rich historical scenery that pulls the reader into the story so that they are walking in the setting rather than reading about it. She also develops deeply flawed characters that easily give readers the ability to connect with many of them. Even the supporting characters quickly find a way into the reader’s mind so that they are often left wondering about them. This book is written during a difficult time in our country’s history that continues to make the forefront of today’s headlines. The historical accuracy needs to be read by people so that it’s not sugarcoated into a feel-good story. This book also deals with the poor treatment of people during the time, even concerning rape. It will undoubtedly be difficult for some to read, but it is worth it. I received a complimentary copy of this title from the publisher. The views and opinions expressed within are my own.

  30. 5 out of 5

    pawsandpagesbyannie

    Mountain Laurel by Lori Benton Publication Date: September 1, 2020 - Out Soon! . Description from NetGalley... “A fascinating story, rich in emotion.”- Diana Gabaldon, New York Times bestselling author of the Outlander series “North Carolina, 1793 Ian Cameron, a Boston cabinetmaker turned frontier trapper, has come to Mountain Laurel hoping to remake himself yet again—into his planter uncle’s heir. No matter how uneasily the role of slave owner rests upon his shoulders. Then he meets Seona—beautiful, Mountain Laurel by Lori Benton Publication Date: September 1, 2020 - Out Soon! . Description from NetGalley... “A fascinating story, rich in emotion.”- Diana Gabaldon, New York Times bestselling author of the Outlander series “North Carolina, 1793 Ian Cameron, a Boston cabinetmaker turned frontier trapper, has come to Mountain Laurel hoping to remake himself yet again—into his planter uncle’s heir. No matter how uneasily the role of slave owner rests upon his shoulders. Then he meets Seona—beautiful, artistic, and enslaved to his kin. Seona has a secret: she’s been drawing for years, ever since that day she picked up a broken slate to sketch a portrait. When Ian catches her at it, he offers her opportunity to let her talent flourish, still secretly, in his cabinetmaking shop. Taking a frightening leap of faith, Seona puts her trust in Ian. A trust that leads to a deeper, more complicated bond. As fascination with Seona turns to love, Ian can no longer be the man others have wished him to be. Though his own heart might prove just as untrustworthy a guide, he cannot simply walk away from those his kin enslaves. With more lives than his and Seona’s in the balance, the path Ian chooses now will set the course for generations of Camerons to come.” . Thank you to @NetGalley @tyndalehouse for the digital ARC in return for my honest review. . My thoughts... This is my first book from Lori Benton. It is a Christian Historical Fiction Book. This book was more than I expected. It told a story of bondage, freedom, risks, consequences, family and faith. The faith theme was written very well into the lives of the slaves and those who were free. It definitely dealt with the tough topic of slavery shortly after the Revolutionary War. The book is long, and drawn out at times, but it was still a good read. I was able to connect with the characters and the lovely narrative. I appreciated a glimpse of the underground railroad and the abolition movement’s beginning. The author also shared her inspiration for this book.

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