Audiobook Review: Mountain Laurel

14 Oct

With the review schedule I maintain, I usually reserve my audiobook listening for books that I can’t wait to read. It’s hard sometimes to listen only 1 hour per day, but in cases like Mountain Laurel by Lori Benton, I find lots of chores that allow me to stay plugged in. 😉 Benton’s latest historical novel set in the late 1700s is definitely a very highly recommended read!

North Carolina, 1793
Ian Cameron, a Boston cabinetmaker turned frontier trapper, has come to Mountain Laurel hoping to remake himself yet again― into his planter uncle’s heir. No matter how uneasily the role of slave owner rests upon his shoulders. Then he meets Seona ― beautiful, artistic, and enslaved to his kin.

Seona has a secret: she’s been drawing for years, ever since that day she picked up a broken slate to sketch a portrait. When Ian catches her at it, he offers her opportunity to let her talent flourish, still secretly, in his cabinetmaking shop. Taking a frightening leap of faith, Seona puts her trust in Ian. A trust that leads to a deeper, more complicated bond.

As fascination with Seona turns to love, Ian can no longer be the man others have wished him to be. Though his own heart might prove just as untrustworthy a guide, he cannot simply walk away from those his kin enslaves. With more lives than his and Seona’s in the balance, the path Ian chooses now will set the course for generations of Camerons to come.

A story of choice and consequence, of bondage and freedom, of faith and family.

Lori Benton was born and raised east of the Appalachian Mountains, surrounded by early American and family history going back to the 1600s. Her novels transport readers to the 18th century, where she brings to life the Colonial and early Federal periods of American history, creating a melting pot of characters drawn from both sides of a turbulent and shifting frontier, brought together in the bonds of God’s transforming grace. 

My Impressions:

Lori Benton is one of my all-time favorite authors, so I knew I had to read Mountain Laurel. I actually downloaded the audiobook on release day! Readers familiar with Benton’s earlier novel, The King’s Mercy, will recognize the setting of this book. Many years have passed and a new owner is in residence. I found Benton’s portrayal of a prosperous farm intriguing — generally books detailing the life of slaves and their masters take place during the Civil War or some few years before. But Mountain Laurel is set in the few short years following America’s independence. The new found freedom from tyranny is bittersweet as many are still in bondage. Freedom is an important theme that runs throughout the book. There are those who are free who live in bondage to their mistakes, sins, and regrets, while there are those who legally are owned by an earthly master, yet experience a true freedom. Benton uses a decidedly Christian viewpoint to convey that message. But don’t worry, faith is naturally expressed, never preachy.

The story revolves around two main characters — Ian Cameron a self-styled prodigal and Seona, a young woman unsure of her true identity and place. The two feel an attraction that will not be denied, despite societal norms and restrictions. Both sides — slave and slaveholder — warn of the relationship. Heartbreak, betrayal, and redemption await the two. Secondary characters are as well-developed as the two mains. I found Benton’s characters portrayed a wealth of human emotion, including cruelty, grace, and mercy.

Listening to the audiobook was like stepping back in time — the narration was excellent. Pair that with unforgettable story and characters and Mountain Laurel is very highly recommended.

Very Highly Recommended.

Great for Book Clubs.

Audience: adults.

(I purchased the audiobook from Audible. All opinions expressed are mine alone.)

%d bloggers like this: