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Julie Coulter Bellon
Thursday, March 29 2012

Outlaws, Plantation Politics, and Romance, Heirs of Southbridge has it All

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Heirs of SouthbridgeHeirs of Southbridge is a unique offering in the LDS market set in the years following the Civil War when the country was trying to heal and its people were moving West. This novel combines a sweeping southern feel with a distinctly western flavor to give readers a story that has it all outlaws and gentlemen, six-shooters and plantation politics.

The story begins when we meet Gavin Telford and his sons, Clayton and Travis, as they are mourning their mother’s untimely death. Gavin is a Yankee officer who fell in love with Kathryn Southbridge, the belle of the Southbridge plantation, and then married her in spite of her father’s objections. While Kathryn was alive Gavin and his father-in-law had formed an uneasy truce, but her death brings threats and eventually separation as Gavin takes his sons on the run to escape their grandfather’s temper and manipulations.

The book follows Gavin and his sons across the country from Texas to Kansas where their paths separate and the book then mostly stays in Clayton’s point of view as he tries to reconcile his need to follow his dreams of school and education with his pull to go back to the Southbridge plantation and find his roots. He sets out for school until he finds that the plantation has been taken over by a family who claims to have ties to his grandfather, but strangely, Clayton’s never heard of them. He heads to Southbridge only to be greeted by a girl named Lucy, dressed in his old overalls, holding a gun on him. Clayton’s life is thrown into a simmering chaos from that moment on as he struggles between the life he was meant to have and the life that he wants.

Lucy is a tough as nails girl out of necessity, but inside she is eager to please and has a big heart for those who surround her. I thought her character growth was realistic as she is faced with poverty, insecurity, and the secrets her parents carry, but I would have liked to see more depth in the romance department. Hansen sets the scene so well for our heroine and I’m anticipating what’s coming, but it all seems a little rushed in the end.

The strength of the book lies in the glimpses of the frontier and the ways of the old West on the cattle trail. Hansen does well in making the chase for outlaws and subsequent shoot-outs seem like the reader is right there in the thick of the action. The details really give the book a distinctive feel and a richness that is sometimes glossed over in this genre. I also thought the author fleshed out the story by touching on several subjects relevant to the day including laws regarding freed slaves and the Ku Klux Klan’s influence on society, which layers the characters as they react to these issues.

As a reader I felt as tied to the Southbridge plantation as the people who lived there and the families that are created through it. When I closed the book I thought this could definitely be the start of an epic series if Hansen chooses to tell the story of any one of the other characters. It is a wonderful southern setting with western characters and a story that does not disappoint.

Jennie is an accomplished writer with twenty-three published novels to her name. She writes in several different genres including romantic suspense, mystery, historical, and western and most of her titles can be found in LDS bookstores or on Kindle. To find out more about Jennie you can visit her blog at 

Heirs of Southbridge is a unique offering in the LDS market set in the years following the Civil War when the country was trying to heal and its people were moving West. This novel combines a sweeping southern feel with a distinctly western flavor to give readers a story that has it all outlaws and gentlemen, six-shooters and plantation politics.

The story begins when we meet Gavin Telford and his sons, Clayton and Travis, as they are mourning their mother’s untimely death. Gavin is a Yankee officer who fell in love with Kathryn Southbridge, the belle of the Southbridge plantation, and then married her in spite of her father’s objections. While Kathryn was alive Gavin and his father-in-law had formed an uneasy truce, but her death brings threats and eventually separation as Gavin takes his sons on the run to escape their grandfather’s temper and manipulations.

The book follows Gavin and his sons across the country from Texas to Kansas where their paths separate and the book then mostly stays in Clayton’s point of view as he tries to reconcile his need to follow his dreams of school and education with his pull to go back to the Southbridge plantation and find his roots. He sets out for school until he finds that the plantation has been taken over by a family who claims to have ties to his grandfather, but strangely, Clayton’s never heard of them. He heads to Southbridge only to be greeted by a girl named Lucy, dressed in his old overalls, holding a gun on him. Clayton’s life is thrown into a simmering chaos from that moment on as he struggles between the life he was meant to have and the life that he wants.

Lucy is a tough as nails girl out of necessity, but inside she is eager to please and has a big heart for those who surround her. I thought her character growth was realistic as she is faced with poverty, insecurity, and the secrets her parents carry, but I would have liked to see more depth in the romance department. Hansen sets the scene so well for our heroine and I’m anticipating what’s coming, but it all seems a little rushed in the end.

The strength of the book lies in the glimpses of the frontier and the ways of the old West on the cattle trail. Hansen does well in making the chase for outlaws and subsequent shoot-outs seem like the reader is right there in the thick of the action. The details really give the book a distinctive feel and a richness that is sometimes glossed over in this genre. I also thought the author fleshed out the story by touching on several subjects relevant to the day including laws regarding freed slaves and the Ku Klux Klan’s influence on society, which layers the characters as they react to these issues.

As a reader I felt as tied to the Southbridge plantation as the people who lived there and the families that are created through it. When I closed the book I thought this could definitely be the start of an epic series if Hansen chooses to tell the story of any one of the other characters. It is a wonderful southern setting with western characters and a story that does not disappoint.

Jennie is an accomplished writer with twenty-three published novels to her name. She writes in several different genres including romantic suspense, mystery, historical, and western and most of her titles can be found in LDS bookstores or on Kindle. To find out more about Jennie you can visit her blog 

Heirs of Southbridge by Jennie Hansen published by Covenant Communications, softcover, $15.99, available on Kindle $9.99

Julie Coulter Bellon writes international romantic suspense novels and is the author of seven published books.


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