Veil of Pearls, by MaryLu Tyndall

book coverBe swept away to Charleston of 1811, a city bustling with immigrants like Adalia, who is a runaway slave so light-skinned that no one guesses her past. Terrified her secret will be discovered, she settles into a quiet life making herbal remedies for a local doctor. But when Morgan, the handsome son of a prominent family, sweeps her into his glamorous world—a world in which the truth about Adalia’s heritage would ruin them both—suspicions and petty jealousies are aroused. What will Morgan do when he discovers that the woman he has fallen in love with is a runaway slave?

Veil of Pearls opens with an escape. A slave called Althea is attempting to escape a Barbados plantation house. A door has been left unbolted, and she’s taking advantage. She’s been the ‘favorite’ slave of the brutish owner for seven years and has been restrained accordingly. Her escape from the house, through the jungle to Bridgetown, and onto a ship is written in careful detail. The reader experiences the sights, sounds and emotions of Althea’s night time flight.

With a little help, Althea makes it to Charleston and becomes Adalia. This is the name used throughout the rest of the book until the reader forgets her original name. She becomes a doctor’s assistant and eventually meets Morgan, a rich young man with nothing to do but gad about town. He is the second son, and not likely to inherit, but that doesn’t appear to deter the catty Emerald who has her sights set on making him her husband. She’ll go to any length to destroy the relationship between Adalia and Morgan.

This is a thought-provoking read about the perils of slavery. Tyndall doesn’t just write about human slavery but how we are all slaves to something in our lives. We are slaves to our positions in society, to our looks, to our money. Not surprisingly, Tyndall portrays these slaves as the non-Christians in her book. It’s an interesting thought and perhaps we need to take a look at ourselves and our own lives.

Are there downsides to this book? Sadly, yes, there were a couple of things that stood out to me. The amazing detail of Althea’s escape is not replicated and there are time gaps. I noticed a couple of instances of repetition, and did people in 1811 really say, “Gadzooks!”?  Althea/Adalia is constantly worried that she’ll be recognized as an escaped slave but she continues to mix with members of slave owning families with the naïve hope that she’ll convince them to free their slaves. I also found the “Author’s Afterward” unnecessary.  As an epilogue it wrapped up everyone’s storylines, but it felt out of place and the end of the final chapter works just as well as an ending to the book.

Ultimately, although this is a book about slavery it comes across as a swash-buckling romance with hints of Pretty Woman, My Fair Lady and Pirates of the Caribbean. The opening description of Althea’s escape hooks the reader and the novel is a pleasant enough way to pass an afternoon.

Publisher: Barbour Books

Publication Date: 01 July 2012

Page Count: 320

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I downloaded my free copy of Veil of Pearls from Barbour Books on the NetGalley website. I was under no obligation to write a review.


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