Cover Image: Beyond the Lavender Fields

Beyond the Lavender Fields

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Member Reviews

I really enjoyed this heartfelt and emotional story. The characters were so well written and had a lot of depth. I look forward to reading more from this author in the future.
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I have always loved historical fiction. This one has beautiful prose and a compelling story, so I would recommend it to anyone that enjoys the genre.
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As with all historical fiction, Beyond the Lavender Fields by Arlem Hawks taught me about the French Revolution during the years of 1793 and 1794.  It is under this revolutionary cloud that Giles Etiene, a Jacobin, meets Marie Caroline, a royalist.  Taking a dare from his brother and his friend, Etiene attempts to kiss Marie Caroline.  She is outraged that at such a time in the history of France, he should be playing such silly “games” that show no respect for women.  Giles soon begins to understand what Caroline is saying.  They soon develop feelings for each other but try to avoid falling in love because of their political differences. This does not work and just when Giles and Marie Caroline are on the brink of declaring their love, circumstances place Marie Caroline and her entire family in a precarious situation.  They must run and hid from forces beyond their control.  Working together with his father and other family members, Etiene is determined to save them.  A good story of love in the face of adversity.
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It took me a long while to get into this book, but I kept reading, in large part due to all the good reviews I read!

This story takes place in Marseille, France in 1792. The two main protagonists are Gilles, a Jacobin, or revolutionary, and Marie-Caroline, who is a royalist. They are attracted to one another from the first meeting (Gilles works at her father’s savonnerie, or soap factory), but their opposing political views serve to make them each believe these views must keep them apart. 

I enjoyed the character development in each of them. Marie-Caroline’s thoughts are mostly conveyed through her letters to her cousin and close friend, while we see Gilles’s transformation through the action of the story with his revolutionary companions. I enjoyed as well the seeming change in Gilles’s father, who is not a likable character until the end of the story. I’m glad I kept reading, and would recommend this book to lovers of historical fiction as well as slow- simmering romance!

I received this book from the publisher via net galley in exchange for an honest review. Four stars!
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Beyond the Lavender Fields is a beautifully written story of two people with vastly different opinions and beliefs who find love. 
Amidst revolutions and war, Gillies and Marie-Caroline learn to look beyond their differing sides in the revolution to see the people underneath. They change each others perspectives and balance each other out. 
This story is heavy on the politics! And has a very strongly opinionated heroine. Marie-Caroline had me stressed to the max, she is not any easy woman to win over. And Gillies, well he doesn’t make the best first impressions but his heart is good! I was just waiting for them to make peace with each other and for Marie-Caroline to give him a chance! 
I thoroughly enjoyed the many layers to the story and the extraordinary detail the author put into the historic events. It put me right there in the story. It is a bit slow the first half, but if you stick it out, the second half is worth it. Just keep going!! 

Thankyou NetGalley and Shadow Mountain Publishing for the complimentary e-arc. All opinions are my own.
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This was a heavier read than I usually go for. It was thought provoking. In my opinion, the romance was there but there was more history. Which is NOT a bad thing. Arlem Hawks is a beautiful writer. Her style is practically flawless. She did her research on this time period which i appreciate it. I don’t feel like it was exaggerated. The sweet, slow growing romance of Gilles and Caroline was beautiful. Two people who thought differently in some ways wanted the same thing at the end. Peace for their country. I would definitely recommend this book.
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Beautifully written and evocative.  I highly recommend. 
Many thanks to Shadow Mountain and to NetGalley for providing me with a galley in exchange for my honest opinion.
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Thank you to the publisher and NetGalley for giving me a copy of this book. Overall I thought the writing and historical research was done very well. You could truly see the passion the author had for the historical subject. However, the book just dragged on too long. It became boring at the start which put me off the book for a long time. If the start hadn’t dragged for so long, I would have enjoyed this book much better. This book wasn’t for me, but I’m positive many people will love it.
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This book was more than I could imagine. When I heard it was about the French Revolution, I was thinking it was more about the war and braced myself for multiple battle scenes. It wasn’t like that! 

Arlem wove a beautiful story, from the main POV of Gilles, and through letters from Caroline, about the political battle between the Jacobins and the Royalists during the early 1790s in France. It’s historical fiction like this that makes me want to go research more about this time period that I didn’t know much about! 

Gilles is a clerk in a soap making favorite for monsieur Daubin, working to earn enough to go to medical school the following year. When Gilles is tricked into kissing mademoiselle Daubin, his whole world begins to shift. Of course, she refuses him either the line “I do not want to kiss you” that becomes my favorite banter line throughout the entire book! 

Marie-Caroline is the only daughter of the Daubin. She recently arrived from Paris and wants to be involved in the soap and perfume making. Her views are very strong and opinionated, leaning towards the monarchy. So why does a Jacobin keep catching her eye? She knows. I thing can come if not, but she runs into Gilles everywhere. 

I love this story because Arlem does an amazing job with showing how this relationship between to people with completely opposite views change and help form each other’s new views. It’s also a story that takes place over time and is not an insta-love story. It is also one of those books that makes one think…and that’s nice to have every once in a while! 

Thank you to Net Galley for my complementary copy! All thoughts and opinions are my own.
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This French Revolution historical fiction hits all the genre marks while captivating the audience. An intriguing plot with deft characters that moves along at a great pace. Hist fic fans will be moved by this read.
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3 1/2 stars rounded up.

This one centers around the beginning of the French Revolution.  Things are looking bad in Paris, so Marie-Caroline returns to her home to wait out the unrest.  Gilles is a revolutionary who is excited about the overthrow of the monarchy.  As time moves on and the two get to know each other better, they both begin to be enlightened on the other side of the coin.  With the fury of unrest and the excitement of making a change, it is dangerous to be on either side of the revolution.  We get to watch as two people try to be friends with completely opposite views.  An interesting story about a time that I don't know much about.  The story wasn't as compelling as I had hoped, but it was clean and overall an enjoyable read.  

Thanks to NetGalley and Shadow Mountain for an ARC in exchange for my honest review.
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Beyond the Lavender Fields by Arlem Hawks is fantastic French historical fiction. It is set in Marseille in the year 1792, three years on from the initial Revolution. The violence is ongoing with the two factions becoming more and more polarised in word and deed. I find this period of history to be infinitely fascinating with not nearly enough fictional writing offered, especially when compared to WWII as an example. 

‘France is in tatters. Your glorious revolution has left us no closer to stability than we were before.’

I am happy to report that there are no major information dumps but rather facts fictionally weaved throughout the narrative all testament to Arlem’s research. She does an excellent job of highlighting the political factions, the fallout and the complications in their attempt to reform France. 

“If France falls, it is because her so-called friends have turned into the very despots they claim to despise. If the upholders of liberty only protect liberty for those who think as they do, can they really call themselves champions of freedom? Or are they no better than the tyrants who reigned before?”

Whilst this is a wonderful historical tale it is also equally a historical romance. Arlem takes her two protagonists and places them on opposing political sides (which again lends itself to not only providing balanced viewpoints but also educates readers regarding all aspects of this revolution). I would also venture to suggest this read is YA given the leads' age, dialogue, their feelings and actions - not a problem but something to bear in mind with the romance being very light. As an aside, for this most violent period of history the details are alluded to and not elaborated upon. Arlem does a superb job of portraying the people from all sides with their fears and determination for their ideals and beliefs. This is yet another positive as our two sparring protagonists take the time to learn from each other and soften their views towards reconciliation. 

“Doing what is right is more important than who is right, I think.”

The tale is told from Gilles' point of view, however, readers get to know Caroline's feelings through her letters. This latter aspect I was not a fan of and saw it only as a means to share Caroline’s viewpoint which took away from the smooth storytelling. The book also starts off somewhat slow but by the end it comes together most satisfactorily. I really appreciated how, even as young as they were, Gilles and Caroline worked through mutual respect, starting out as friends, to find new ground to work on together. 

‘A Jacobin and a Royaliste make for a dangerous friendship. And I think we have reached the breaking point.’

Beyond the Lavender Fields was a refreshing take on the French Revolution with its strength being to highlight, through the range of characters and their varying perspectives, the impact of the Revolution on all people - socially, emotionally, financially and politically. If a balance of history and young romance of this period appeals to you then I would definitely recommend this book. 

This review is based on a complimentary copy from the publisher in exchange for an honest review. Opinions expressed in this review are completely my own. The quoted material may have changed in the final release.
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Love in the French revolution's shadow.

That book is magnificent. Such a heart-warming, perfect love story, brilliant historical fiction. It was one of the greatest reads I had lately.

Perfect love story. Complicated, even dangerous especially when French is divided and on the edge. Two young people who need to find their place in all of these, stay yourself and protect not only what they believe in but also who they fall in love with.

That was everything I ever wanted to find in such books. History, difficult decisions, the truth and realness.

I adore it and definitely looking forward to have it not only in english but in other languages as well!
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Unfortunately these characters are really not compelling to me at all. The letter writing feels really awkward. I wanted to love this book SO BAD, but it is just not interesting enough to keep going.
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I don't know what the difference is for me--probably the romance--but I love learning about historical in a historical romance format. Arlem Hawks dives deep into 1792 France and the issues dividing the country, and the story comes alive with brilliantly written characters and descriptive settings and situations. 

I love how boldly Marie-Caroline rejects Gilles right from the start and each time she sees him. She's a strong young woman who desperately wants to fight for her cause, yet she's slightly vulnerable enough to need more than she realizes. Gilles wants the same, but his loyalties are for the opposing view, and coming to learn and understand, rather than assume, causes him to reevaluate his opinions and allegiance. 

This story flowed like a river--smooth and constant at times and turbulent at others--and I thought it feel the mood of the book perfectly. It's obvious this author is passionate about her research and content and it sucked me right in.

Content: mild war-type violence; mild romance

*I received a complimentary copy. All opinions expressed are my own and were voluntarily given.*
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I've always found the French Revolution to be an interesting time in history. So much needless killing. But the fear and worry that so many felt, leading up to as well as during this time was very real. I've read several historical fiction and nonfiction books about this time. It has definitely made me ponder and think about the people living during that time.

Arlem Hawks did a great job capturing what several people could have felt and thought and gone through, in this book. Marie-Caroline and Gilles have two very differing opinions. They start off on the wrong foot and have several interactions that do not reflect positively on each others' thoughts and beliefs. But I loved how through different circumstances throughout the book, they came to know and better understand each other. Their hearts were softened.

Here is one quote that I loved in this book and I thought truly captured a theme of this book.

"I thought you wanted us to be friends," she said. "Friends do not have to agree, only to support."

Isn't that beautiful? And so true? We don't always have to agree but we can be kind and still support each other in our differences and disagreements.

There are many moments of peril and strife in the book as well as several tender moments. Moments of coming to understand one's self and beliefs. Moments of standing up for what is right no matter the cost. Moments of fearing for one's life. Moments of heartache and loss. Moments of triumph and survival. Moments of tender love and understanding.

If you enjoy this time period then I think you'd enjoy this latest book by this author.

Content: Clean. There are moments of peril and talk of death and rioting but the author wrote it very tastefully and not graphically at all. Nothing further than a few kisses.

I received a copy from the publisher, Shadow Mountain, via NetGalley. All thoughts and opinions in the review are my own.

Happy Reading!!!
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I absolutely loved this. The characters, the time period, the setting, the romance, the tension. This was wholly original and stunning. Highly recommend.
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This was a beautiful book. It had so much information about the French Revolution it was almost like reading a history book only it was much more enjoyable. The author a visually knows a lot about this time period and it shows in her writing. The characters had a lot of depth and passion. The plot kept me on the edge of my seat- I wasn’t sure if anyone would get a happy ending.  I will say it was not a light read- it had a lot of historically accurate things about the revolution and a lot of them were not sweet. It was all tastefully told and in the end I was happy with how things turned out.  If you want a silly, fluff read this might not be the one to read. I however enjoyed it very much! I was able to listen to the audio version of the book and the narrator did a phenomenal job. Her accent was amazing and she did a great job on the voices.
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This book has everything I want and need in a book: fully-fleshed out character arcs, historical details that are rich and seamlessly woven throughout, a compelling plot, believable romantic tension, sweet yet passionate kisses, themes that speak to my heart, and more.
While a very entertaining read with all of the story elements working together to make it compelling, this book also delivers on themes that are so relevant to our dramatic and divided world. History tends to repeat itself, but just gets a makeover. I truly believe we can learn so much from history and literature, and this book does exactly that. 
I have already commenced rereading this tale. It is just that good!
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This is a beautiful story of love, loss, and perseverance. Arlem Hawked has brought the french revolution to life as we follow Gilles and Caroline through the very intricate world around them.
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