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Tuesday, July 21, 2009

Holding on to Hope by Nancy O’Berry

Holding on to Hope by Nancy O’Berry
Publisher: Red Rose Publishing
Genre: Historical Romance
Length: Full (227 pages)
Heat: Hot
Rating: 4 Books
Reviewed by Snapdragon

Sweetbrier Academy is more than just a school. The young ladies lucky enough to be accepted are educated in the social graces that only the wealthiest debutantes of 1870 would have learned. They can play the spinet, embroider, discuss politics, and issues of importance like any lady, but when the lights go down, the debutantes of Sweetbrier know how to make use of their God given talents and bring pleasure to their suitors.

When Miss Opal Benedict, Madame of the Academy, is called out of town, Hope finds Panther's Landing's doctor, the dashing Jonathan Norris paying court. When his attentions become obvious, they find themselves caught in a storm of their own creation. Their lust for one another becomes the object of unwanted attention in a most unflattering way.

When influenza strikes, Dr. Jonathan Norris must choose between his career or the woman who has captured his soul.

1870, and the young women at Sweetbriar might seem like ladies. They do work on the social graces, but it's brothel skills they pay attention to, far more than the piano. Young Hope, ever obedient, is grateful for her place among the girls, even if she doesn’t quite get along with them. She respects Miss Benedict as her benefactor, but when the young town doctor Jonathan Norris enters her life, everything changes. Hope is painfully aware of her place though, and not only at Sweetbriar. She is sharply reminded of how other’s view her, when she visits town. Jonathan seems far beyond her dreams – and indeed, at times, we must wonder at his motivations. Is it merely lust – or can he feel something more for a brothel girl?

Hope does have friends, and an interesting perspective on her world. Yet, given her occupation, she seems almost shy at times, and less of a brothel girl than most. She is very compassionate, and a true friend.

The town, townfolk have the opinions one might expect about the old whorehouse by the side of town. The girls there too, are often what one might expect to find – and yet, individuals do standout. Specific people at a measure of interest and interplay, and an unpredictable quality to this novel.

Holding on to Hope is written in a frank and lively voice. The main character is unexpectedly fresh and kindly, and the fact is, hope does simmer through this whole saga.

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