Salvaged Love is subtitled A Historic Novel of Key West 1828-1829. The words “historic novel” caught my eye and I loaded this to my Kindle on a whim. I had never heard of its author, Susan Blackmon, and quickly learned Salvaged Love was her debut novel.
Despite having traveled to Florida many times, I have never visited Key West or heard much about its history. After reading Salvaged Love, I felt as if I had visited the island, albeit as it was in 1828-29, and knew I had learned a bit of its history.
The story centers around the coming of age of Abigail Bennington, 19-year old daughter of Richard Bennington. Bennington acquired his fortunate in the shipping business. Her father surprises Abigail when he invites her to join him on one of his business trips.
As he explains, Bennington’s next trip is to the Caribbean and then on to Montgomery, Alabama, where his brother has a cotton plantation. Spurred on by desperate desire to excape her current situation, Abigail excitedly accepts her father’s invitation. Their holiday will last six months.
A detour changes their plans when they become stranded on Key West, a newly formed island community inhabited mostly by men and sitting on treacherous coral reefs near the entrance to the Gulf of Mexico.
All is well until circumstances force Bennington to insist that Abigail must marry. Soon, Abigail finds herself battling not only her own emotions but her husband’s reason for never returning her love and affection in any but a sexual way. Will this young couple’s marriage survive? Will happiness ever inhabit their home? How will Abigail resolve this painful situation?
Susan Blackmon writes with a fluid style which quickly draws her reader into the book by descriptions of people, places and traditions among society. The first sentence in the first chapter is Bennington’s question to Abigail, which sets the story in motion: “Would you like to go with me to the Caribbean?” Immediately I know that this will be an efficient piece of writing, not wasting the reader’s time attempting to figure out the book’s course.
Blackmon further has shown that she is correct in the use of historical research. The Author’s Note at the beginning gives a brief overview of the history of the land known as Key West and some of historical figures who lived and/or visited Key West. In addition, a note is included on why the author chose the time period, 1828-29.
As a debut novel, this one ranks high on the charts for me. Blackmon has a natural gift for writing, often “painting” scenes, places, and people for her writers. Although a few minor grammatical errors were noted (her editor or proofreader should have caught these), they do not impede the enjoyment of this novel.
Once I began Salvaged Love, I could not put it down; and I cannot wait until the second in the series comes out.