Saturday, December 22, 2012

Review of "Love in Three-Quarter Time" by Dina Sleiman

Rating: 4 Stars
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Summary: In the style of Deeanne Gist, Dina Sleiman explores the world of 1817 Virginia in her novel Love in Three-Quarter Time. When the belle of the ball falls into genteel poverty, the fiery Constance Cavendish must teach the dances she once loved in order to help her family survive. The opportunity of a lifetime might await her in the frontier town of Charlottesville, but the position will require her to instruct the sisters of the plantation owner who jilted her when she needed him most. As Robert Montgomery and Constance make discoveries about one another, will their renewed faith in God help them to face their past and the guilt that threatens to destroy them in time to waltz to a fresh start? ~ Zondervan

Review: Dina Sleiman whisks readers to old Virginia, when Thomas Jefferson resided at Monticello and Charlottesville was considered a frontier town.  Sleiman refers to the novel as "Scarlett O'Hara meets Jane Austen" in her historical notes.  There are definitely elements of both throughout the plot.  "Love in Three Quarter Time" is easier and lighter reading than an Austen novel, but the dance scenes and early 1800s setting are elements dear to Austen enthusiasts. Constance Cavendish has the spunk and fortitude of the infamous Scarlett O'Hara, and likewise fights for her family's well-being. 

Sleiman introduces readers to a younger Constance (a.k.a. Gingersnap) Cavendish in the prologue. She is full of fire and passion for life, and used to having her own way.  When tragedy strikes, and the Cavendish's gilded world crumbles, Constance is forced to confront some of life's harsh realities.  The first chapter begins five years later, and Constance has shed her nickname and mellowed her personality.  As the story progresses, Constance's fire is rekindled, but she begins burning for her faith and the survival of her friends and family rather than solely her own desires. I enjoyed Constance's personal growth, and I am glad that the flirtatious Gingersnap only appeared in the prologue.  I'm not sure I could have tolerated her the entire novel, especially with three potential beaus waiting in the wings.

While love and romance are prominent themes, the abolitionist cause also plays a prominent role. I appreciated the depth and heart that Sleiman's incorporation of the abolitionist movement provided. Robbie and Constance's decisions to go against the ingrained beliefs of Southern culture and friend and free slaves is heartwarming.  There are many historical references in the plot, including cameo appearances by Thomas Jefferson and his daughter and a visit to Monticello.  

"Love in Three-Quarter Time" is told from several different perspectives, with hints that we may meet the characters again in future novels.  While Constance's and Robbie's story ties up in this novel, one wonders what will become of Contance's sisters and her two other admirers - Mr. Franklin and Lorimer. Hopefully Sleiman will delve into their lives in her next book. 

I received a complimentary e-copy of this novel from NetGalley, courtesy of  Zondervan.  I was not required to write a positive review. The opinions expressed above are my own. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s 16 CFR, Part 255 “Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising.”

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