The Petticoat Spy by Elva Cobb Martin

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1779 – West Virginia

A Charles Town belle and a blockade runner ignite fireworks in more ways than one during the American Revolution.

To Anna Grace Laurens, the war is like a distant bad dream, until her family’s Charles Town plantation is burned and her parents murdered by those loyal to the king. She flees on horseback and leaps into the Cooper River to escape her pursuers.

As John Cooper Vargas sails his sloop down the river, he spots a woman diving into the water. After firing on the Tory raiders chasing her, he rescues her and offers to take her with his parents to an island hideaway for the duration of the war. But she has other plans, including revenge for her parents’ deaths. She insists he drop her off in Charles Town, even with the British planning a massive attack by land and sea to retake the city, the Pearl of the South.

John employs his sailing skills for the patriots, risking capture and death, but he enjoys his skirmishes with the British navy blockade to bring goods from the islands to aid the cause. When Charles Town falls to the British, he docks his ship in a secret cove and joins Francis Marion’s militia. This decision lands him wounded on a harbor prison ship where more men die than on the battlefield.

Anna Grace braves the deprivations, first of a city barricaded against the British, and then one surrendered and ruled by fists of iron under the English flag and injustice. At great risk to her, she spies on the British officers garrisoned in her house, and seeks a way to rescue John before it’s too late. As both American and English armies gather near Yorktown, Virginia, for a pivotal battle, can John and Anna’s love for each other and their faith in God preserve them and help forge a new nation?

Paint and Nectar by Ashley Clark

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1929 – South Carolina

In 1929, a spark forms between Eliza, a talented watercolorist, and William, a charming young man with a secret that could ruin her career. Their families forbid their romance because of a long-standing feud over missing heirloom silver. Still, Eliza and William’s passion grows despite the barriers, causing William to deeply regret the secret he’s keeping . . . but setting things right will come at a cost.

In present-day Charleston, a mysterious benefactor gifts Lucy Legare an old house, along with all the secrets it holds–including enigmatic letters about an antique silver heirloom. Declan Pinckney, whom Lucy’s been avoiding since their disastrous first date, is set on buying her house for his family’s development company. As Lucy uncovers secrets about the house, its garden, and the silver, she becomes more determined than ever to preserve the historic Charleston property, not only for history’s sake but also for her own.

The Dress Shop on King Street by Ashley Clark

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1946 – Alabama/Charleston

Harper Dupree has pinned all her hopes on a future in fashion design. But when it comes crashing down around her, she returns home to Fairhope, Alabama, and to Millie, the woman who first taught her how to sew. As Harper rethinks her own future, long-hidden secrets about Millie’s past are brought to light.

In 1946, Millie Middleton–the daughter of an Italian man and a Black woman–boarded a train and left Charleston to keep half of her heritage hidden. She carried with her two heirloom buttons and the dream of owning a dress store. She never expected to meet a charming train jumper who changed her life forever . . . and led her yet again to a heartbreaking choice about which heritage would define her future.

Now, together, Harper and Millie return to Charleston to find the man who may hold the answers they seek . . . and a chance at the dress shop they’ve both dreamed of. But it’s not until all appears lost that they see the unexpected ways to mend what frayed between the seams.

The Invention of Wings by Sue Monk Kidd

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1800s – Charleston

Hetty “Handful” Grimke, an urban slave in early nineteenth century Charleston, yearns for life beyond the suffocating walls that enclose her within the wealthy Grimke household. The Grimke’s daughter, Sarah, has known from an early age she is meant to do something large in the world, but she is hemmed in by the limits imposed on women.

Kidd’s sweeping novel is set in motion on Sarah’s eleventh birthday, when she is given ownership of ten year old Handful, who is to be her handmaid. We follow their remarkable journeys over the next thirty five years, as both strive for a life of their own, dramatically shaping each other’s destinies and forming a complex relationship marked by guilt, defiance, estrangement and the uneasy ways of love.

As the stories build to a riveting climax, Handful will endure loss and sorrow, finding courage and a sense of self in the process. Sarah will experience crushed hopes, betrayal, unrequited love, and ostracism before leaving Charleston to find her place alongside her fearless younger sister, Angelina, as one of the early pioneers in the abolition and women’s rights movements.

Inspired by the historical figure of Sarah Grimke, Kidd goes beyond the record to flesh out the rich interior lives of all of her characters, both real and invented, including Handful’s cunning mother, Charlotte, who courts danger in her search for something better.

Carolina Gold by Dorothy Love

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1868 – South Carolina

The war is over, but at Fairhaven Plantation, Charlotte’s struggle has just begun.

Following her father’s death, Charlotte Fraser returns to Fairhaven, her family’s rice plantation in the South Carolina Lowcountry. With no one else to rely upon, smart, independent Charlotte is determined to resume cultivating the superior strain of rice called Carolina Gold.  But the war has left the plantation in ruins, her father’s former bondsmen are free, and workers and equipment are in short supply. To make ends meet, Charlotte reluctantly agrees to tutor the two young daughters of her widowed neighbor and heir to Willowood Plantation, Nicholas Betancourt.  Just as her friendship with Nick deepens, he embarks upon a quest to prove his claim to Willowood and sends Charlotte on a dangerous journey that uncovers a long-held family secret, and threatens everything she holds dear. Inspired by the life of a 19th-century woman rice farmer, Carolina Gold pays tribute to the hauntingly beautiful Lowcountry and weaves together  mystery, romance, and historical detail, bringing to life the story of one young woman’s struggle to restore her ruined world.

The Dark Sun Rises by Denise Williamson

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1800s – South Carolina

Set in 19th century Charleston, South Carolina, The Dark Sun Rises is an inspirational work of historical fiction. With impeccable attention to detail and a strong conviction in God, Williamson leads the listener into the complex world of slavery.

In this novel, Joseph, a manservant of Abram Callcott, begins a journey of faith. One of Abram’s passions is teaching the slaves about the Gospel. He is shocked, however, by the realization that Joseph has taught himself to read and write. Joseph’s abilities show Abram that he may have misjudged his African slaves, but nothing can prepare either man for what is to come.

Through strong, colorful characters, Williamson examines slavery from various perspectives and explores the growth and change in the antebellum south.