That’s how I felt about this book in the beginning. Not because of any lack of literary merit on the part of Diann Ducharme, but because of some unfortunate similarities to my WIP. After a few pages I almost put it down.
Quick summary: set in post-Civil War Reconstruction era North Carolina, The Outer Banks House is the story of Abigail Sinclair who teaches a “Banker” boy (Ben) how to read and inevitably falls in love him. Complications ensue once she secretly begins teaching in a Freedman’s school.
So what was my problem? Well let’s see, my WIP is about a young woman in a post-Civil War New England seaport. And her last name is “Sinclair”! What am I supposed to do? Change my character’s last name? I don’t want to change it. Plus, her romantic complication is a poor local boy with blonde hair and ocean-blue eyes (so maybe that’s not wholly original. I mean, there can be lots of romantic interests with blue eyes and a way with boats, right?) Okay, these surface similarities are too generic to get worked-up about (except for the last name issue, it’s still bothering me.) But if Ben had turned out to be dyslexic I would definitely have thrown the book away. Fortunately he was not, I kept reading, and….
Double grrrr…I actually enjoyed it. I got so involved in the developing romance between Abby and Ben that I found myself smiling on the metro. Some of the characters were unfortunately one-dimensional, especially Abby’s father and Abby and Ben’s romantic foils, where more depth would have added nicely to the relationship tensions. As for the racial aspect of the plot, it’s not really my place to judge its effectiveness, but it did provide a believable avenue for Abby’s character progression.
Diann Ducharme is currently working on a sequel to The Outer Banks House. As long as she doesn’t have Abby contract a life-threatening illness (yes, spoiler alert for my own yet-to-be written sequel), I’ll be okay with it.