Monday, May 27, 2019

Review of By the Light of Embers by Shaylin Gandhi

Welcome to the review tour for By the Light of Embers. You may have caught an excerpt already on one of my other websites, Candrel's Crafts, Cooks, and Characters. It's a powerful book that I highly recommend. Feel free to read my review before you download your own copy. Also leave comments and questions for the author as you follow the tour and enter the giveaway!


It's 1954, and twenty-two-year-old Lucia Lafleur has always dreamed of following in her father’s footsteps. While sock hops and poodle skirts occupy her classmates, she dreams of bacteria and broken bones—and the day she’ll finally fix them.

After graduation, a letter arrives, and Lucia reads the words she’s labored a lifetime to earn—"we are pleased to offer you a position at the University of Pennsylvania School of Medicine." But in the midst of her triumph, her fianc├ę delivers a crushing ultimatum: forego medical school, or forego marriage.

With fractured hopes, she returns home to Louisiana, expecting nothing of the summer of '54 but sweet tea and gumbo while she agonizes over her impending choice. There, she unexpectedly befriends Nicholas, a dark-skinned poet whose dignity and intellect are a salve to her aching heart. Their bond, initially forged from a shared love of literature, soon blossoms into something as bewitching as it is forbidden.

Yet her predicament deepens when a trivial misunderstanding between a local white woman and a black man results in a brutal lynching, and the peril of love across the color lines becomes chillingly real. Now, fulfilling her lifelong dream means relinquishing her heart—and escaping Louisiana alive.

Read an excerpt:
I didn’t realize I’d drifted off until Nicholas touched my hand, startling my eyes open. He lay on the blanket a few feet away, watching me. His twilight eyes were as heart-stopping as ever, his lashes so long they nearly brushed his brows.

“I’m sorry it took so long,” he said. “I wanted to get here earlier. You don’t know how envious I am, seeing you nap. I stay up half the night for all the work I should’ve finished while here with you.”

His mouth curved gently, though a sliver of sadness showed in the bow of his lips. I wondered if he intended the words to distract me from what I had to ask.

“What happened last night?”

“Nothing you need to worry over, little bird. Everything’s alright now.”

He didn’t elaborate. Around us, cypresses reared skyward like cathedral columns while soft light filtered through the canopy and dusted our faces with tiny islands of radiance. As always, the pristine silence of the swamp circled steaming waters, but today, something menacing lurked beneath it all.

“How can it be alright? They’re talking all over town, about how someone attacked the Widow Magnusson in the street.”

His face lengthened. “You heard about that?”

“I couldn’t not hear about it.”

He looked away.

Fear bubbled up from somewhere deep. “Who’re they talking about?”

“Does it matter?”

The same maddening answer Gertrude Mays had given. But she’d said it maliciously, while Nicholas imbued the words with grief.

“Will it always be like this?” I said, frustrated. “Will there always be secrets, things you can’t tell me?”

“Yes,” he said.

Available on Amazon 
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**My thoughts**
I almost hate to use these words because they are so pedestrian, but this novel is beautiful and powerful. I'm afraid I am at a loss for better words to describe it, especially considering the elegantly stunning prose this novel contains. I even found myself saving certain characters quotes and descriptions, which I almost never do, because the words were so beautiful.

In addition to the beautiful language, the author weaves a tale of love, friendship, devotion, racism, and history reminiscent of some of the great classics about the pre-Civil Rights era in the South. I was transported back to my elementary school through high school years when I first read those novels and now want to read them again. This one deserves its place on the shelf next to them. It's worthy of reading and discussing, especially in our current climate.

I loved all of the characters, even the despicable ones. Without them, the story would not be complete. They are extremely well-written and developed and all go through a growing process, at least in our eyes. Some of them are going to definitely surprise you. There are definite twists and turns in the plot as the multiple layers are pulled back and revelations are made. And so much emotion. I am just so impressed by this book.

About Shaylin Gandhi

SHAYLIN GANDHI secretly stole her mother’s copy of Clan of the Cave Bear at age ten, and fell madly in love with love stories. Now, as an author, she still can't get enough, and the tales she spins all center around affairs of the heart. To her, that's what makes a story truly worth telling.

Besides writing, she tries to stamp her passport at every opportunity. Traveling has been a lifelong passion, and she’s lucky to have done it a lot. Shaylin and her husband once spent an entire summer living in their van while touring the Pacific Northwest, British Columbia, and Alaska. Her most memorable trips often tie in with writing: her books are usually inspired by majestic places that stole her breath.

In addition, Shaylin practices medicine, scuba dives, plays the piano, and once rode her bicycle from the Pacific Ocean to the Atlantic. She now lives in Denver with her incredible husband, their identical twin daughters, and two adorable rescue dogs. The family can usually be found in the mountains, either hiking up or skiing down.

You can find Shaylin online at or on Twitter @shaylingandhi. Please get in touch—she would love to hear from you!




Shaylin Gandhi will be awarding a $25 Amazon or B/N GC to a randomly drawn winner via rafflecopter during the tour.

a Rafflecopter giveaway


  1. I already have this book on my reading list.

  2. Thank you for your kind review, and for hosting! I'm so glad to finally share this book with the world :)

  3. it's great when even the bad characters are good. lol
    sherry @ fundinmental

  4. I can't wait to read this!!! Sounds super amazing!!


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