Thanks to NetGalley, I was able to preview Lily: Song of the River, co-written by Diane T. Ashley and Aaron McCarver.
Lily is set in 1859 Natchez, Mississippi, and is perhaps the first book I’ve read set in that place and time. Lily Anderson is an 18-year-old girl with two younger sisters, forced to live with her grandmother after her mother’s death and father’s desertion. Lily has one goal: to be independent from her grandmother. It isn’t that she does not love her grandmother – she does. Quite a bit, in fact. But Lily was born to live on the water, and she misses it. Until her mother’s death, she and her family lived on a boat, and Lily wants to return. So after her grandfather passes away, she takes the inheritance left to her and her sisters and purchases a boat.
Only it turns out that she purchases 51%. A controlling interest, but a shared interest, nonetheless. Her co-owner is the rakish Blake Matthews, who wants to create a gambling boat, whereas Lily wants to haul cargo. They agree to her terms, and their partnership proceeds.
You can probably predict where this is headed.
There are obstacles to their budding love story, namely Blake’s dismissal of God. See, Lily is really all about God’s love. So if you aren’t interested in books that stir the soul, then this is not for you. The religious fervor is not piled on thick, however. It actually is smoothly inserted into the story, and it avoids getting preachy. For that, Ashley and McCarver should be commended.
A particular exchange I enjoyed:
Not seeing why she wanted to bring God into the discussion, he waited.
Lily turned to him. “He already had things worked out, Blake. Don’t you see? He’ll help us through this trouble. I’m sure of it.”
“If you say so, Lily.” She might want to rely on God, but he was more of a man of action than of prayer. That was why he’d considered their predicament from every angle. He had a solution, but would she accept it? Could she let go of her strict moral code long enough to allow him to put his plan into action? He doubted it but felt he needed to try anyway. “There’s another way around this.”
See? God is in the story, but you don’t feel like you’re listening to a sermon.
This is a pleasant, if unsurprising, read. The subtitle says that it’s “Book One,” so I assume other books are coming.
The characters are enjoyable, the story is interesting, and the message is nicely played. I liked this book, but didn’t love it. It’s … nice. It doesn’t grab you, nor do you feel wildly compelled to turn the pages. But if you’re looking for a nice, sweet story, this is for you.