Wednesday, September 16, 2015

Book Review: "The Black Sea" (Elm Bryant)

Boston, 1850. Hundreds of young Irish immigrants fleeing starvation in their own country arrive in America determined to find a better life for themselves. But the young, the innocent, and especially the orphaned are usually swept up in the treachery and abuse perpetrated by those who enslave girls to line their own pockets with coin.

Byron Drake is such a man, trolling the docks for incoming ships of lovely, forlorn cargo who need a place to stay, food to eat, and a way to make a living. He promises them everything and leaves them with nothing ... especially a particularly beautiful young lady to whom he forms an unexpected attachment, evil as he is.

Then she vanishes, like many of the other young women he's conscripted into the Black Sea, the seamy district of Boston. He has no idea where the women are going and who is costing him profits, but his rage multiplies, especially against a vivacious young socialite, Josephine Dunham nee Hamilton, who seems involved in some way.

Indeed, Josephine's arranged and loveless marriage to William Dunham to shore up his father's failing financial situation places them both in jeopardy, along with all her friends and associates. Will Josephine's faith be enough to keep them safe?

It's with abject pleasure and nothing short of delight that I introduce to you Elm Bryant's historical Christian novel, The Black Sea, the first book in the Dunham Saga series.

Too often, Christian fiction errs heavily on the side of patronizing sermons, flat characters, and unsatisfactory, predictable, or dull plot, or some unfortunate combination of all of the above. However, Bryant's work is beautifully written, incorporating elements of suspense, mystery, and romance against a well-researched and lovingly detailed historical backdrop.

That setting by itself --- nineteenth-century Boston, from high society to the darkest slums --- is nearly three-dimensional and prevalent enough to be counted a character right alongside the rest. It's quite clear that Bryant took time to conduct extensive research, against which is seamlessly presented a plot whose unexpected twists and turns will leave you wondering what on earth is going to happen next.

Josephine Dunham (nee Hamilton) in particular is an absolutely fascinating character, and someone whom I can only liken to a female version of Sir Percival Blakeney, the Scarlet Pimpernel whose daring escapades during the French Revolution feature so prominently in the series of books by Baroness Orczy.

Unbeknownst to many of her friends and family, Josephine leads a double life, working to maintain her estate as a newly married lady of society while working to maintain her cover as she tirelessly coordinates the efforts of a select few trusted individuals to rescue hapless girls from their slavery, many at the hands of the villain Byron Drake.

For an expertly written, gripping page-turner beautifully set in a captivating era of United States history, look no further than The Black Sea.

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Author: Elm Bryant
Title: The Black Sea
Series: The Dunham Saga (#1)
Purchase here:

Disclaimer: I received a complimentary copy of this work from the author in exchange for an honest, though not necessarily positive, review. The opinions I have expressed are my own.

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