This weekend, I sequestered myself near a babbling brook with some lunch, a bottle of iced tea and this gorgeous novel by Piper Huguley. Thoroughly. Enjoyed.
I first discovered Piper by complete accident via twitter. I found her Milford College Historical Romance series and devoured them, so I was overjoyed to learn that she’d be writing a new series, Migrations of the Heart. The first in this series is A Virtuous Ruby, about a headstrong young woman in Winslow, Georgia who chooses to live as a black woman when she was clearly able to pass for white in a time when living as a white woman would have made for a less dangerous, more comfortable life. Ruby and her illegitimate child, Solomon, live with her family, the Bledsoe’s in rural Georgia, where Ruby is known to stir up trouble.
When Ruby meets Dr. Adam Moreson, she’s not surprised that he would choose to live as a white man, with more privilege and freedom, but she IS disappointed, knowing what her relatives (like her Uncle Arlo) have endured to ensure rights and freedoms for her family and others that live in Winslow.
Adam has his own cross to bear. The product of an encounter between a black maid and a white man, he looks more like the white side of his family and chooses to become a doctor, attending a white college and living life as a white man. But Ruby knows that Adam is just as she is and encourages him to embrace and acknowledge a history and ancestry that makes him a target for those that are resistant to change. Adam’s father runs Winslow– the town is named after him, after all. Adam has to choose between a life of privilege where no one need know that he is half black but he must disavow a part of himself, and a life of challenge and hardship but truly living as he feels inside and honoring the memory of his mother.
This novel is beautifully written with such a vivid setting, I found myself smiling at the warmth of the Bledsoe homestead and the memories of week-long revival services; and alternately shuddering and nearly shedding a tear at the description of violence against Lona, and then against Ruby. What really gets me is the attitude of the time, that men were ‘entitled’ to what they took, that it was normal and expected and no one was going to reprimand them for mistreatment. How frustrating and debilitating. Respect and freedom and peace of mind were worth fighting for.
This is a historical romance, so I was intrigued at how Ruby, initially disappointed, near disgusted at how Adam denied so much of his very being came around to not only work with him, study with him, but eventually love him and risk her life for him. A Virtuous Ruby was a page turner in every sense of the word.. drama, suspense, romance, even a little humor because Ruby’s little sister Delie was HILARIOUS.
As Ruby’s father says of his daughters, “They are jewels, every one of them. My girls are going to be somebody.” They certainly are. This is going to be a great series and I’ve already pre-ordered A Most Precious Pearl.
About the Author
Named in 2015 as a top ten historical romance novelist in Publisher’s Weekly, Piper Huguley is the author of the Reconstruction era “Home to Milford College” series. She is a 2013 & 2014 Golden Heart finalist for two novels in the “Migrations of the Heart” series about the Bledsoe sisters and set in the early twentieth century. Piper Huguley seeks to make new inroads in the publication of historical romance by featuring African American Christian characters. The Lawyer’s Luck and The Preacher’s Promise, the first books in her “Home to Milford College” series, are Amazon best sellers. The Mayor’s Mission,published in Winter 2014. The next entry in the series, The Representative’s Revolt will publish in Spring 2015. She is a 2013 Golden Heart finalist for her novel, A Champion’s Heart—the fourth book in “Migrations of the Heart”. The first book in the series, A Virtuous Ruby, was the first-place winner in The Golden Rose Contest in 2013 and was a Golden Heart finalist in 2014. The first three books in the “Migrations of the Heart” series, which follows the loves and lives of African American sisters during America’s greatest internal migration in the first part of the twentieth century, will be published by Samhain Publishing in 2015. Visit Piper at www.PiperHuguley.com.