Beyond the Lavender Fields is an amazingly well-written historical romance set during French revolution. If you don’t mind slow pace and wish to read historical fiction that is not set during WWI or WWII I highly recommend this.
Beyond the Lavender Fields by Arlem Hawks
Publication Date : February 1st 2022
Publisher : Shadow Mountain
Genre : Historical Fiction / Romance
Cover Art : © Matilda Delves / Trevillion
Pages : 384
Other books I read by the same author-
Disclaimer – Many thanks to publisher for providing e-copy of this book via NetGalley in exchange for an honest review.
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Rumors of revolution in Paris swirl in Marseille, a bustling port city in southern France. Gilles Étienne, a clerk at the local soap factory, thrives on the news. Committed to the cause of equality, liberty, and brotherhood, he and his friends plan to march to Paris to dethrone the monarchy. His plans are halted when he meets Marie-Caroline Daubin, the beautiful daughter of the owner of the factory.
A bourgeoise and royalist, Marie-Caroline has been called home to Marseille to escape the unrest in Paris. She rebuffs Gilles’s efforts to charm her and boldly expresses her view that violently imposed freedom is not really freedom for all. As Marie-Caroline takes risks to follow her beliefs, Gilles catches her in a dangerous secret that could cost her and her family their lives. As Gilles and Marie-Caroline spend more time together, she questions her initial assumptions about Gilles and realizes that perhaps they have more in common than she thought.
As the spirit of revolution descends on Marseille, people are killed and buildings are ransacked and burned to the ground. Gilles must choose between supporting the political change he believes in and protecting those he loves. And Marie-Caroline must battle between standing up for what she feels is right and risking her family’s safety. With their lives and their nation in turmoil, both Gilles and Marie-Caroline wonder if a révolutionnaire and a royaliste can really be together or if they must live in a world that forces people to choose sides.
“With each successive encounter, Gilles has with Marie-Caroline…makes him realize that people, like politics, are full of complexities and nuances. Historical fiction fans will revel in Hawks’ (Georgiana’s Secret, 2021) refreshingly different, perfectly evoked period setting that seamlessly captures both the drama and danger of revolutionary-era France, while romance readers will appreciate the sweet love story the author expertly threads through the plot.” —BOOKLIST
“The writing was spectacular and transported me to Marseille during the French Revolution.” —ALEX C.
“The rich and vivid way that Arlem Hawks presented this story stole my heart.” —RENAE S.
“A well-told tale that sweeps you off your feet and through the streets of France.” —TRISTAN R.
“Captivating and engaging to the very end.” —JESSICA M.
“Well-researched and rich in historical detail.” —PATRICIA W.
“This one has it all: history, romance, suspense, intrigue. . . . It does not disappoint.” —JULIA D.
“A beautiful story! Arlem Hawks has sealed a place on my ‘best authors’ bookshelf!” —JESSICA M.
Beyond the Lavender Fields was stunning historical fiction that revolves around 1790s French revolution and slowly building relationship between main characters supporting opposing political views. The story is about political unrest, revolution, war, and its impact on people and life, opinions, blind beliefs, injustice, family, friendship, and love.
Writing is vivid, atmospheric, and captivating. The story is written in third person narrative mainly from Gilles and Marie-Caroline’s perspective. Caroline’s perspective is through letters she wrote to her cousin. The setting of Marseilles, France is as interesting as plot.
The story started with character introductions. Caroline has her own mind and opinions as royaliste and strongly opposes revolution while Gilles is part of Jacobin club of revolutionnaire. With humiliating first meeting for Gilles and opposing beliefs, no matter how much they try it is hard to avoid each other as Gilles is head clerk at savonnerie owned by Mr Daubin, Caroline’s father. As they gets to know each other more they find they want same thing for France even with their different political views. Gilles is prepared to march to Paris to fight monarchy and free the France but after meeting Caroline he starts to have second thoughts. And when he finds she has secret that can endanger her and her family he has to take stand he is afraid of.
It was interesting to see where things are going with revolution, can Gilles and Caroline be together with their different beliefs, what Caroline is hiding and what Gilles will do about it, and if they will listen to their heart or let go of their feeling with growing tension in town.
The Beginning and the first meeting of Gilles and Caroline is fun to read but soon the story turns tense and serious and I liked that amid the tension author managed to add a little humor, banter, and some lovely moments.
Characters are interesting, especially Caroline and Gilles. Caroline is more developed character. She is spirited lady who has her own mind and isn’t afraid to be open with her opinion against revolution and all injustice happening all over France. She holds on to her beliefs and no one can win her in argument over politics even when her brother and his friends think women can’t know what is right when it comes to politics. It was amazing to see the risks she took to adhere to her beliefs, standing against injustice, and showing support to helpless people who didn’t support revolution but at the same time her action were also reckless and foolish. I liked the way her thoughts towards Gilles changed and the way she admitted all her feelings in letters and with Gilles as well.
Gilles is most interesting. I liked reading about his family and his life on sea, what motivated him to leave that life and work at savonnarie to earn enough money for medical education. He is total flirt and playboy. It was fun to see him humiliated first time in his life by Caroline and how he listened to his mother and tried to be better man and gentleman for his mother and then for Caroline. His developement is great and I liked how true he was to himself, saw Caroline for what she is, understood her beliefs, and realized he wished the same for France and how being with Caroline changed his mind about Jacobins and war they are fighting. His proposal is amazing and I fall in love with him after his little chat with backer’s daughter near the end. I’m just surprised it took him so long to take a stand.
Secondary characters are also interesting. I loved Gilles’s parents and their cook, Florence. Caroline’s family is also lovely to read. Only both main charatcers’ brothers are idiots and I’m surprised even fighting didn’t change their hearts. I hated Martel. He truly is son of devil. It is easy to see his actions are personal vendetta than love for the country. I’m disappointed to see he didn’t get punched by Gilles or his father.
Best part is history, the way author represented revolution through different perspectives, how it affected people and France both financially and emotionally, and how blind belief in something only leads to destruction. I didn’t know they imprisoned the king near the end of the revolution and I agree with Caroline’s thoughts- famine and bad weather was hardly king’s fault and Jacobins shouldn’t take credit of good weather and crops. It was just terrible to see what people did in zeal and rage.
Romance is slow burn with opposite attracts arc and I liked seeing how Caroline and Gilles’ dislikes turned into friendship and respect. It was great to see how slowly it blossomed to love and how revolution tested their love and hope.
Twist and turns are good. Most of them I could see coming but some are interesting. I was surprised by letter at climax. It was tragic and heartbreaking moment and what happened after that was predictable but also tense and action packed. End is lovely and perfect.
Why 4.5 Stars-
My only issue is slow pace. I liked the build up in initial chapters and perfect representation of revolution and time period but it took a lot for story to pick up the pace which happened at 60% of the book.
Overall, Beyond the Lavender Fields is unique, spectacular, and well-written historical romance set during French revolution.
I highly recommend this if you like,
Book set before WWI and WWII
Set during French Revolution
interesting and layered characters
opposite attracts arc
well written historical elements
ARLEM HAWKS began making up stories before she could write. Living all over the western United States and traveling around the world gave her a love of cultures and people and the stories they have to tell. She has a bachelor’s degree in communications, with an emphasis in print journalism, and she lives in Arizona with her husband three children.
For author interview requests, please contact Callie Hansen at email@example.com
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