A Light on the Veranda by Ciji Ware
Genre: Contemporary, Historical, sci-fi/fantasy
Length: Full length (461 pages)
Heat Level: Spicy
Rating: 4.5 stars
Reviewed by Camellia
A secret may hold for a hundred years ... and then it's time for the past to take revenge
Daphne Duvallon vowed never to return to the South years ago when she left her philandering fiance at the altar. Now family has called her back to Natchez, Mississippi, a city as mysterious and compelling as the ghostly voices that haunt her dreams.
From a time when the oldest settlement on the Mississippi was in its heyday and vast fortunes were made and lost, Daphne begins to uncover the secrets of an ancestor whose fate is somehow linked with her own. In a compelling and mesmerizing tale, now Daphne must right the wrongs of the past, or follow the same path into tragedy...
A Light on the Veranda is a multilayered story. It takes the reader back and forth from the present to the nineteenth century when another Daphne lived—a Daphne who yearned for love. Interesting parallels emerge between the two Daphnes.
There's more to Bluff House than Daphne ever imagined when she left New York to move to the deep South. Family roots run deep in Natchez, Mississippi and Daphne’s family is no exception. The old harp at Bluff House plays in the wee hours of the morning and Daphne has visions about ancestors, long-dead.
As Daphne tries to rebuild her life she meets wildlife photographer, Sim Hopkins. Sim stirs her blood, but Daphne has experienced disastrous relationships firsthand. Trusting a man does not come easy. Even so, Daphne and Sim have a sizzling chemistry she can't quite dismiss.
Sim has no idea his family has roots in Natchez—he's there to photograph birds painted by Audubon long ago. Though drawn to Daphne, he has unresolved issues he hasn't been able to come to terms with for ten years. Invisible ties seem to pull them together. It's almost as if ghosts from the past urge both Sim and Daphne to move past all their hang-ups and reach for a happy-ever-after denied so long ago.
Ciji Ware’s ability to weave a tapestry showcasing past and present lives and emotions is amazing. An ever-present thread in the tapestry is the extent of influence the Whitaker “blue devil” genes can have on generations. Ms. Ware stirs in emotional struggles, environmental upheavals, and economic woes. This passionate tale wouldn't be complete without manipulations of malicious ‘meanies’ such as present-day Daphne’s “Magnolia Mama”, the vindictive Jack Ebert and nineteenth century Daphne’s family and husbands. The book isn't all darkness and gloom. There are several bright spots actually. The secondary characters are a kaleidoscope of colors that blend and add texture and continuity to the tapestry that tells a fantastic tale about mingled lives of many families—past and present.
The magic of rich, emotionally charged music that Ciji Ware writes about pulls the reader into an-otherworldly-place that transcends time. She engages all the senses with descriptions that make the story come alive as she takes the heroine and hero on a journey. They find redemption, but also bring peace to long-dead ancestors. One can almost hear a sigh of relief echo across time as ghosts of ancestors whisper well done and finally rest in peace.
A Light on the Veranda, with its well-researched history, ‘so-real’ characters, subtle humor, and meant-to-be love story is a book to be enjoyed more than once.