kings mercyThe best stories combine something the reader can relate to with something altogether new. The familiar paving the way for the unfamiliar.

Lori’s latest story is set in places familiar to me in North Carolina. The Cape Fear River, the Yadkin Valley, and the Blue Ridge Mountains. I so enjoyed reading her descriptions of the lush (and abominably HOT) coast as well as her descriptions of these mountains I love. When Alex McKinnon sees his own promised land, Lori writes:

“Far below a wide river coiled around the diminishing humps of the dawn-shadowed mountains that blended into the lower backcountry, thickly treed with the fiery shades of autumn, the whole pocketed in mist still sheltered from the rising sun.”

Yes. I’ve seen that and fell as deeply in love with it as did Alex.

And that familiarity tugs me deeper into the parts of the story that are new to me–the concept of being indentured–essentially a slave for seven years. The idea that a woman in the first half of the 18th century could be “free” and yet effectively bound as a slave to family, to the need to have the protection of a man–whether father or husband, and to the pressure to meet societal expectations.

And then, I realize that what seems foreign at first is relatable to my own life. Joanna may be “enslaved” by her life and societal expectations, but then . . . so are most of us. Work, family, even our own desires and preferences enslave us just as effectively as Joanna’s life on a NC plantation does.

And that, I think, is the beauty of Lori’s stories. They’re about characters living nearly 200 years ago in a way that would feel deeply foreign to most of her readers. And yet, her stories are about us. They’re about you and me. They’re about this all to human condition we are blessed and sometimes cursed to live out.

Yes, The King’s Mercy is a deeply satisfying romance with exceptional historic detail. But it’s also a delightfully relatable story that–while entertaining you–will also inspire you to ponder your own choices in life.