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Arlette Gaffrey’s Behind the Columns is a well-written, compelling historical novel about the romance between a young Creole belle and a handsome, charismatic New Yorker.

New Orleans, 1847.

Having lost both her parents at an early age, Désirée Bordeaux lives with her grandfather, a man with a weakness for drink and gambling. When he suddenly dies, Désirée finds herself in a desperate situation as her beloved plantation Chêne Vue must be auctioned off.

Philippe Jaunet, a hateful man–also a heavy drinker and gambler–who used to know her grandfather, is intent on marrying her, getting the plantation for himself and use it to pay his own debts.

To add to her unhappiness, the man she thinks she loves and whom she believes promised her marriage when she was but a child of ten, has married another woman.

Enter handsome and wealthy Lance Van Buren, who immediately is mesmerized by Désirée’s stunning beauty and feisty, proud personality. At first, she despises him, even though he evokes in her the most sensual, unsettling feelings. Then, to her surprise, she discovers that he has won the auction and is the new owner of Chêne Vue. But nothing prepares her for the next shock: he proposes marriage.

Behind the Columns is an entertaining, fast-paced read. Passion and intrigue abound as the novel follows the lives of Désirée and Lance as they marry, move to New York for a while, and have their first child back in New Orleans. Philippe Jaunet remains a villain until the end, haunting Désirée and filling her nights with nightmares. In New York, she must face another villain in the shape of Inga, Lance’s sister in law. Love, passion, lies, jealousy–readers will find their share in this book,and then some.

Gaffrey does an excellent job in bringing the old South and the Creole society to life: the food, the fashion, the way of life, the values and beliefs, etc. There’s also a lot of interesting information about Creole history which I found fascinating. In short, if you love historical Southern romances a la Gone with the Wind, you’ll enjoy Behind the Columns.

Find on Amazon.

Visit the author’s website.

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A World of His Own is an enjoyable historical novel set in New Orleans in the early 1800’s. The novel spans a few years and centers around the life of Andre Raphael de Javon, an ambitious and handsome Frenchman who comes to America in order to become one of the richest plantation owners in Louisiana.

The story begins when he’s just arrived by ship to New Orleans in the company of his friend Charles, who’s spent the last six years studying in Europe. Charles comes from a prestigious family in the city and he soon invites Andre to stay with them until he can find a place of his own.

From the beginning Andre shows great ambition. He wants to invest his money wisely and prosper, though he doesn’t know how at first. When he decides to become a plantation owner, his friend Charles introduces him to someone how can advise him–a generous, successful man by the name of Jean-Claude. At about this time, Andre meets Gabrielle, a gorgeous yet possessive and selfish young woman who’s set on marrying him at all costs. Like any normal man, Andre is deeply attracted to Gabrielle, even though he knows she’s not the right woman for him. In spite of this, he ends up marrying her, no doubt tempted by her handsome dowry which will help him achieve his dreams. 

As Andre’s plantation grows and he gets wealthier, his marriage becomes increasingly turbulent and Gabrielle more and more unstable. Andre’s pain is deeped by the fact that he’s secretly fallen in love with Jean-Claude’s daughter, a young beauty who’s been infatuated with Andre since the tender age of eleven. Thus, we follow Andre’s ups and downs and his hellish marriage as he becomes the wealthy owner of a plantation.

I have a lot of good things to say about this book. The early 1800’s come to life under the author’s pen. There are many interesting, informative passages about the Creole culture, slave ownership, the running of a plantation, the food, clothes, etc. Though it took me a while to connect with Andre, once I did I really was hooked and wanted to know how the story ended, and whether or not he would at last find happiness. So the plot, though pretty much a love story, kept me turning pages until I finished the book. At times, though, the pace dragged a bit due to redundant phrases, unnecessary description and too much ‘telling’ instead of ‘showing.’ I also think the character of Gabrielle could have used more depth, as she comes across as the stereotype of an ‘evil beauty’ throughout much of the book.

But, as I said, the author made me care for Andre and his situation enough for me to want to keep reading and finish the book. It was an entertaining, interesting read. 

View the original article on blogcritics.org

Title: A World of His Own: In the Land of the Creoles
Author: Arlette Gaffrey
Publisher: Outskirts Press (November 16, 2006)
ISBN-10: 097888910X
http://www.arlettegaffrey.com/
http://www.outskirtspress.com/
Pages: 400 pages
Genre: Historical Fiction
Price: $13.95

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