Title: Palmetto Moon by Kim Boykin
Genre: Historical (1940s), Romance
Length: 320 pages
Book Rating: B
Complimentary Review Copy Provided by Author
June, 1947. Charleston is poised to celebrate the biggest wedding in high-society history, the joining of two of the oldest families in the city. Except the bride is nowhere to be found…
Unlike the rest of the debs she grew up with, Vada Hadley doesn’t see marrying Justin McLeod as a blessing—she sees it as a life sentence. So when she finds herself one day away from a wedding she doesn’t want, she’s left with no choice but to run away from the future her parents have so carefully planned for her.
In Round O, South Carolina, Vada finds independence in the unexpected friendships she forms at the boarding house where she stays, and a quiet yet fulfilling courtship with the local diner owner, Frank Darling. For the first time in her life, she finally feels like she’s where she’s meant to be. But when her dear friend Darby hunts her down, needing help, Vada will have to confront the life she gave up—and decide where her heart truly belongs.
Palmetto Moon by Kim Boykin whisks readers back to the late 1940s where times might changing in the rest of the world, but in South Carolina? Longstanding traditions and values continue to be deeply entrenched and previous transgressions always remain in the forefront of people’s memories. But recent college graduate Vada Hadley is about to challenge many of the things her old moneyed family hold dear and, most surprisingly, she finds love when she least expects it. But will her loyalty to a beloved childhood friend destroy her chance at happiness? And will she ultimately allow her parents to decide her fate?
Vada is on the verge of what amounts to an arranged marriage when she grabs hold of her future by both hands and flees to the small town where she has been recommended for a teaching position. Unspoiled by her parents’ wealth and her pampered childhood, Vada settles into her new life and quickly becomes close friends with war widow Claire Greeley and her three young children. But it is her budding romance with local diner owner Frank Darling that proves to be the most illuminating as she experiences desire, passion and love for the first time in her young life.
Vada is a very interesting young woman who thinks for herself, but she is a little naive due to her very sheltered upbringing. She is feisty and headstrong but she is also kind and compassionate. Her loyalty to her childhood friend is admirable but it is also frustrating because it leads her into making rash and foolhardy decisions. Her college years have given her a new perspective on her parents’ expectations and when her protestations about her upcoming marriage fall on deaf ears, Vada has no choice but to strike out on her own.
Frank is the complete opposite of Vada. His life has been full of disappointment and loss and he feels stuck in a life that is not of his choosing. He is immediately drawn to Vada and he quickly begins courting her. Haunted by a disastrous mistake in his past, Frank is careful to keep their romance above reproach and his strong desire for her in check. He is definitely a product of the times, and while he has the utmost respect and admiration for Vada, Frank does not always understand her need for independence.
Frank and Vada rush headlong into a relationship and there is a bit of an insta-love feeling to their romance. A love at first sight storyline can be tricky and in Frank and Vada’s situation, it is a little difficult to believe. Their relationship is full of stops and starts and when they are together, the story is crackling with sexual tension. But instead of trying to solve their problems together, Vada’s default mode is to push Frank away. They reunite several times, only to have misunderstandings come between them. Their emotions and passion are believable, but getting them together permanently is an exercise in frustration (for them and the reader).
The secondary cast of characters is superb and their interactions with one another are delightful. Claire is still grieving the loss of her husband and she is desperate to find a better life for her children. While she is genuinely happy for Vada’s romance, it is also quite bittersweet for her because it reminds her of what she has lost. Reggie Sheridan is an absolute breath of fresh air and his introduction lightens the overall story. Frank’s relationship with Tiny is also quite refreshing and their banter is quite humorous.
Palmetto Moon is an insightful novel with a charming cast of characters. Although it is written from different perspectives, the story flows nicely with smooth transitions between the various points of view. Kim Boykin’s descriptive prose easily brings the setting and the characters vividly to life. All in all, it is a very engaging novel that has depth and substance and a wonderfully heartwarming romance.