Stained (Carpetbaggers, Rebels & Yankees, #1) by Elizabeth Marx
Princess Kelly's Review - 4 Crowns
What happens when your darkest truth is revealed to the world?
Scarlett Marbry was just sixteen when her mother, an acclaimed Sacred Harp singer, committed suicide in front of her, sending her running from rural Alabama and the darkness that pushed her mother over the edge. Now, after five years of building a fragile cage around her heart to protect herself, she must return to Crossroads for her grandparents’ funeral. There, she’ll not only be forced to deal with the reality of her deep Southern roots, but she’ll have to face the one she left behind.
Revell Marshall is used to working with fragile objects. He’s built a life and career around reassembling the delicate stained glass windows that have put Crossroads back on the map. He’s also been pining for Scarlett all these years . . . Determined to win her heart, he helps her piece together the facts of her mother’s past. Except these revelations, once exposed, could set Scarlett on the downward spiral she barely escaped the last time. Especially when the truth that stained the past may be the same one that shatters her faith in the one person she thought she could trust . . .
BOOK REVIEW: Stained (Carpetbaggers, Rebels, & Yankees Series #1)
Stained is a very intricate, deeply profound and captivating story of one girl's mission to uncover hidden family secrets; to dig up underlying roots and examine in excruciating detail the reasoning’s behind a loved one’s actions. So many questions, so much confusion, darkness and hatred stem from one single source: Preacher Man - Scarlett's cold and elusive Grandfather. However, uncovering truths that have been painstakingly buried by a ruler with an iron fist comes with its own set of consequences, because sometimes, finding the truth does not set you free...but seeks to destroy.
Staring at the mahogany coffin of Preston ‘Preacher Man’ Marbry should have elicited an array of emotions, yet all it gave Scarlett was a sense of peace, as her whispered parting of ‘good riddance’ contrasted deeply to ‘god rest her soul’ relayed to Oglear, her beloved Mamaw, who’s coffin rested soundly next to that of her Husband.
Having fled this small town in Marshall County many years ago with her beautiful, yet damaged Mother, Mazey Grace, a famous Sacred Harp singer, as they started a new life in Chicago, she swore never to return, but it seems Preacher Man, even in death, has other ideas.
An envelope in her Mother’s delicate scrawl is all that stands between her and freedom. When Preacher Man’s will and testament is read to the Marbry brood which account for most of the residents in Crossroads, Scarlett is horrified to learn that most of his estate, including the church, Copperhead Tabernacle, are to be left to her, along with the envelope. There is just one snag; she has to stay in Crossroads, Alabama until Easter, the following April in order to read it! If she leaves, she forfeit’s everything, including the information she so desperately seeks.
Revell ‘Trax’ Marshall has been pining for Scarlett to come back to Crossroads for years. They fell in love over the summer of her fifteenth year, even though the age difference proved a problem for the locals, including her Grandparents, he accepted the fact that when she fled with Mazey to Chicago, it was never to return.
So when Scarlett walks into The Three Sips bar that he is currently managing, the surprise of seeing her again brings home all the affectionate sentiments he once held and it’s not long before they start to reform a connection.
With the town folk content in making Scarlett’s life as difficult as possible, Revell invites her into his home and back into his life. With his stained glass business starting to take-off and provide a lucrative income into the town, Scarlett spends her days supporting Revell’s business by working at ‘Scarlett’s Heart’ – its namesake not gone unnoticed…
However, with this blossoming ‘old to new’ friendship comes many unanswered questions. Revell and Scarlett take it upon themselves to do a little investigating of their own, but they could never have imagined the journey in which it would take them. Conspiracy theories and town secrets slowly reveal the hidden façade of Preacher Man as his iron fist control starts to crack; it soon becomes apparent that his manipulative ways held no boundaries, not even in death.
Elizabeth Marx amazes me with her talent. Her writing flows so beautifully, her words poetic and structured with unwavering ardour as they paint vivid pictures across every page.
Stained is a captivating story with a southern backdrop that, at times made for uncomfortable reading. It spoke of true ‘old fashioned’ family values, and at others, it projected a closed, tight-lipped community that frowned upon ‘yankee doodle dandy,’ outsiders. If you were born in Crossroads, you stayed in Crossroads, anything less and you suffered derision and scrutiny; this ‘backwards’ notion surprised me, even though it gave the story extra angst, adding to Scarlett’s plight, I wasn’t quite prepared for it.
I had problems with some of the character names and there were a few elements I just couldn’t seem to connect with, but I put that down to sole ‘Britishness.’ Overall though, this is an intelligent, intricately woven story that kept me entertained until the end.
Oh, and ‘Trax’ wasn’t too hard on the eyes either. I absolutely loved him! If you like your book boyfriends Southern Style with a side of hot sauce, then you can’t go far wrong with this guy!