To Have and To Hold is an inspirational historical fiction novel by Tracie Peterson and Judith Miller.
In late August 1886, Audrey Cunningham finds herself displaced to Bridal Veil Island, Georgia with her father. She didn't really want to move there, and considering she's quickly nearing thirty she didn't have to - but her loyalty to her father runs deep. After all, she did love their ancestral home when she was young. They only moved away for financial reasons. Now with her mother gone, Audrey's father feels his attachment to the land is more about making sure Audrey is provided for than some misplaced pride, as before.
All Audrey knows is that her father's sobriety is being strengthened by his newfound faith in God, and if living in Bridal Veil helps to keep him on the right track after years of heavy alcoholism - she's all for it. But there is competition for the property that they weren't aware of. Wealthy investors are looking to buy up the land to use it all for a luxurious resort.
Though Audrey's father refuses the offer, he does accept to use their home as a boardhouse for all the workers employed by the investors to start building on the surrounding land. One of the contractors is Marshall Graham who shares a past with Audrey's father - a past that frightens her.
Yet what she finds she should truly be afraid of is the fact that someone seems to be trying to sabotage the construction work on the island. Among the danger, Marshall begins to see his feelings for the feisty and stubborn Audrey may be growing... But can he keep her safe?
To Have and To Hold really makes Bridal Veil Island the main character. The island is written vibrantly, the setting being naturalistic and a lovely, swampy green in my mind. Unfortunately, Audrey never popped quite so much for me. Neither did Marshall.
Now, don't get me wrong - there's a lot I like about these characters and the plot. The struggle with alcohol and the bruising Audrey's trust has taken is potent and a wound that is slowly healing, but still causes misunderstandings and a tendency to jump to conclusions. This causes a good amount of drama between Audrey, her father, and Marshall. It felt realistic and undramatic, which is kind of nice.
Yet I never felt fully invested in the characters. Was I bored? No. But was I riveted? Sadly, that's a no too.
The clubhouse being constructed on the island sounded absolutely gorgeous and I couldn't help but wonder if more books taking place on Bridal Veil, with a finished clubhouse, may be planned. I could possibly be interested to continue if it were a series. Though I would like to have more period detail than To Have and To Hold has. Besides the description of the island, I could almost say I wouldn't know it was 1886 except for the mentions of the War of Northern Aggression by the cantankerous housekeeper.
When it comes to the mystery in To Have and To Hold, it was slight but interesting - what with the contruction continually being delayed, and some very dangerous and possibly purposeful tampering going on. It kind of gave the novel a lightweight Nancy Drew feel at times, which was fun - but again didn't quite reach the level of story I wanted it to get to.
To Have and To Hold was a very nice novel. It was charming and sweet with a burgeoning romance that is engaging and a love between father and daughter that was inspiring. The book didn't capture my imagination as much as it could have, and I wasn't as wrapped up in the characters as I wanted to be - but it's a pleasant novel.
But you know what? I may have had lack of connection with it, but that may not be the case for you at all. As I always say, read it for your self! This is one gal's opinion - find out your own! :)
*I received a copy of To Have and To Hold from the Bethany House Book Reviewers program, which you can check out here. Their generosity in no way influenced, nor sought to influence, my opinion of the novel.