Have you seen the film Midnight in Paris? It’s a lovely story about the nostalgia and sentimental longing that many people have for eras that have passed them by. That movie sums up why I like to read Historical Romance, and it sums up why I picked up Palmetto Moon—sometimes I want to lose myself in the past, and if I cannot literally do so like Gil does in the film, I can at least figuratively do so by opening a book.
Vada Hadley is a Charleston debutante who is less than thrilled with the marriage her parents have lined up for her. No one but her old nanny, Rosa Lee, can understand this, because Vada is a rich young woman set to marry a handsome, rich young man. Everything ought to be perfect, except Vada knows she doesn’t love her fiancé, and she has a burning desire for independence. When she realizes that no one in her family understands her feelings, she decides to run away with the assistance of Rosa Lee. Her flight takes her to the small town of Round O, where Vada lands a job as a schoolteacher.
Round O does wonders for Vada’s self-confidence. She rents a room at the local boarding house, which is run by a particularly cantankerous old woman. However, this new Vada is able to stand up to shrew and make a friend of another lodger, Claire Greeley, in the process. When Vada walks in to the local diner and falls head-over-heels for its owner, Frank Darling, it is clear that her new life of independence will be a success.
This isn’t to say that there aren’t a few bumps in the road in store for Vada. While in Round O she discovers that an old childhood friend is in trouble, and the process of fixing that mess causes a lot of problems. She also gets into a spat with Frank over her independence—he wants to be a Southern gentleman and take care of her while she is enjoying finally discovering what it means to be in charge of her own life. Vada manages to get through it all with a smile, though.
Overall, I rather liked Palmetto Moon. Frank and Vada were two rather sweet characters. I spent the whole book cheering Vada on in her quest for independence, and I fell in love with Frank as soon as he was introduced. He’s a real sweetheart, a gentle sort of man who only wants to help people. He has the absolute highest opinion of Vada, and he respects her much more than her old fiancé did. Indeed, the romance in this book is rather sweet. The only thing that bothered me a bit was Vada’s treatment of Frank at the end of the book. She had lied to him about herself all throughout their acquaintance, and yet was unable to forgive him for a smaller deception. After all that Vada and Frank went through together, I felt that the upset over Frank’s deception was an overreaction. Still, a slightly overdramatic ending is acceptable when the rest of the book is well written. With any luck, this won’t be last I see of Kim Boykin’s writing.