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Tuesday, April 21, 2009

Sweetbrier Academy, Book One: Having Faith by Nancy O'Berry

Having Faith by Nancy O'Berry
Publisher: Red Rose Publishing
Genre: Historical
Length: Short (125 pgs)
Heat: Spicy
Rating: 4 Books
Reviewed by Lilac

Across the plains of 1870 Wyoming, an extraordinary house exist called Sweetbrier. Inside await lucious laides easy on the eye, schooled in all the graces, and bent on the pleasures of life. Come meet the Ladies of Sweetbrier.

When a high stakes poker game offers the chance to win Faith's hand as their paramour, three players meet in the backroom. Drawn to Thaddeus Oakley, the construction foreman of the rail line, she must await the draw of the cards. Will Lady Luck smile upon Major Abrams, the spit and polish army officer who believes women are no more than a mark on the bedpost, Gregory Wilson the older executive from the railroad, or Thaddeus Oakley, the man of her dreams. Who will gain the ultimate prize of Having Faith?

Having Faith, the first book in a series that provides a fasicinating look at Sweetbriar Academy, a house of elegant and well-educated courtesans, is a touching story full of heart and passion.

In this story, a high stakes poker game offers those involved a chance to win Faith, one of the best women in the Academy. Three players, including Thaddeus Oakley, a construction foreman for the railroad; Major Abrams, an arrogant army officer; and Gregory Wilson, a railroad executive, vie for the chance to make Faith their paramour, but Faith finds herself drawn to Thaddeus. But her fate will be decided by the cards.

Despite her profession there is an innocence about Faith that I found quite refreshing and fascinating. She comes across as very sweet and soft-hearted and I enjoyed her interactions with the other characters of the story. I longed to know more about this intriguing character and couldn’t wait to see how the story would go as Faith finds herself caught in the middle of a battle between two determined men.

With this book, Ms. O’Berry manages to give her courtesans and paramours heart, elegance, and class as they take pride in their occupation as they seek to improve their lives and take control of their own destiny. One can easily understand and feel for these women and the unconventional lifestyle they have chosen to lead and forget about the opinions and dictates of society during that time as they appear to simply be women preparing for work. You almost forget what their work involves until confronted with it head-on.

I do wish we could have learned a bit more about the pasts of Faith and Opal, the proprietress of the Academy, and what led them to choose the life they lead. I would also like to know what becomes of Faith and Opal and hope that is answered in future books.

If Having Faith is what one can expect with Ms. O’Berry’s Sweetbriar Academy series, it should definitely be an entertaining series of reads.