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A Perilous Proposal: Carolina Cousins    by Michael Phillips order for
Perilous Proposal
by Michael Phillips
Order:  USA  Can
Bethany, 2005 (2005)
* *   Reviewed by Melissa Parcel

As the Civil War draws to a close, freed black slaves find themselves in a precarious position. No longer owned and abused by their masters, they are in a different, yet still horrible, situation. Prejudices among whites are cropping up at every turn. Whites who previously owned slaves, and even those who didn't, are freely expressing disgust and hatred toward black people. Lynching takes place with sickening regularity, and most feel powerless to stop it.

Jeremiah is a boy who lived a turbulent life on a plantation. His father Henry was sold when Jeremiah was young. Henry, although respectful and obedient, believed in God and never called his owner master. This infuriated the owner, and thus Henry was sent from all he held dear. Told that his father despised him, Jeremiah grew up hating Henry. After a terrifying incident with his mother, Jeremiah runs away and joins a Civil War regiment. Eventually, he finds his way to Carolina, where he re-connects with his father. Times are seriously changing, and the newly formed KKK is coming into power. Is there hope for free blacks?

This novel continues with many of the characters from Michael Phillips' Shenandoah Sisters in this new Carolina Cousins series. The war has ended, but are things changing for the better or worse? The reader is given a great deal of background about new characters Jeremiah and Henry. Continuing characters Katie and Mayme figure into the story as well. Unfortunately, it suffers from this attempt at integration. Too much information is given and a large amount is told about rather than shown to the reader as it's happening. Some things are even reported after the fact, even though they figure heavily into the plot.

Endearing characters save the story. The reader gets to know Jeremiah and Henry and to care about what happens to them. It's obvious the author did tremendous research into the time period, and the facts are communicated in a fascinating way that makes them personal to the reader. Though A Perilous Proposal is not a light story, it touches the heart and helps us to understand the horror behind prejudice and how it affects us all. The characters' ability to trust in God and His protection offers hope and encouragement.

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