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Romance Review  

Fever
By Katherine Sutcliffe
Sonnet Books, 2001
ISBN: 0-743-41197-8

 

In Katherine Sutcliffe’s romance set in antebellum Louisiana, the word “fever” brings up images of passion, madness and the yellow death coming up the river from New Orleans.  An interesting and complex cast of characters add to the variety of plots that twist at a fevered pace throughout the novel.

Orphaned heiress Juliette Brussard returns to Louisiana from a French convent to become a ward of her godfather Max Hollinsworth.  He plans to have her marry his weak and conniving son Tylor, so he can possess her grand plantation Belle Jarod.  Yet, images of her past surface in her memory and whispers from the plantation make her question who to trust and what is the truth. 

Max Hollinsworth is destructive with his passion.  His illegitimate first-born son Chantz Boudreaux sleeps in a shanty while working as overseer.  Liza, Max’s daughter by a slave, is carrying the baby of another plantation heir.  Max is also responsible for the destruction of Belle Jarod, when his best friend Jack Brussard sees Max making love with his wife.  Chantz rescues young Juliette from the fire that claims her mother.  Juliette’s father commits suicide in his despair.

The bond between Chantz and Juliette on that fateful night, burns with a passion that they can’t deny yet fight to accept.  Chantz doubts Juliette’s love thinking she only seeks his skills as a cane grower.  Juliette doubts Chantz’s love thinking he only wants Belle Jarod to destroy Max.

Perhaps the most interesting plot line is that of parent and child.  The relationship of Max with his sons Tylor and Chantz shows the power of love given and love denied.  Another interesting plot is that of Juliette discovering her mother Maureen.  Hating her mother as an expensive whore who destroyed her father, shadows from the past reveal to Juliette that her mother was generous to the poor, good at business, and lonely for the love of her father. 

Sutcliffe hints at the changing South in the 1850s, as slavery continues at plantations.  Yet Maureen Brussard coming from humble beginnings, freed her slaves.  Chantz Boudreaux, as overseer, shows the power of loyalty by treating workers fairly and with respect.  Together, Chantz and Juliette rebuild Belle Jarod to become a tribute to their love and a haven from all that is evil and ugly.

 

Joyce Dixon
Southern Scribe Reviews
 

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